Are paracetamol and ibuprofen infertile?

More and more couples are unintentionally childless. In addition to older age and environmental toxins, experts have recently been responsible for paracetamol and ibuprofen. When taken during pregnancy, they damage the germ cells of the unborn child.


In July 2018, the magazine “Bild der Wissenschaft” published a detailed report on the reasons for the growing number of unintentionally childless couples in Germany. According to a current estimate of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs this is every eighth to fifth pair. The author Susanne Donner has questioned various experts – reproductive medicine, endocrinologists and chemists – about the causes. First and foremost is still the higher age of women when they decide to have a child or found the right partner or have reached the desired occupational situation.

From the middle of the forties it is very difficult for a woman to get offspring without the help of reproductive medicine. This is because the eggs are already attached to the embryo and age with the woman. At the same time, the genetic defects in the oocytes are becoming more frequent. (To minimize damage to oocytes, older women who want to have children are advised to take Resveratrol and coenzyme Q10.)

In men, the sperm are constantly being regenerated during life. But in the past 50 years, the sperm count and quality has drastically deteriorated. Recent data from the Lincoln University College show that sperm counts in Europe have dropped 32.5 percent during this period; in Africa even by 76.2 percent. It is no coincidence that the World Health Organization 2010 downgraded the limits for a spermiogram after which a man is very likely to be unfruitful.

Chemicals and painkillers under suspicion

This draws attention to other factors. So far, only chemicals with a hormone-like effect were suspected: certain disinfectants and cleaning agents, hair dyes, UV filters in sunscreen creams or plasticizers in plastic bottles (bisphenol A). The WHO has listed a total of 800 such infertile chemicals. But their concentration of these chemicals in the body is usually comparatively low. However, when you take one of the over-the-counter painkillers acetaminophen and ibuprofen by comparison, the active ingredient in the body gets a much higher concentration – and that, according to recent findings, during pregnancy, carries the risk of losing fertility in the fetus.

The endocrinologist Rod Mitchell from the University of Edinburgh apparently warned experts in 2015 about the effects of acetaminophen on the unborn child. He had transplanted testicular tissue from aborted male fetuses into mice and treated them with analgesic for one week. As a result, the amount of testosterone in the grafted tissue had decreased drastically. Shortly thereafter, his French colleague Severine Mazaud-Guittot from the research institute Inserme in Rennes made similar experiments on the effect of ibuprofen on the ova of aborted female fetuses. In comparison to the control group, the number of oocytes was halved after one week of treatment with ibuprofen. A look at the medical database Pubmeb shows that the two researchers are now continuing their investigations together and the suspicion is confirmed.

Unfortunately, these findings come too late for couples with unfulfilled desire for a baby, as they should have heeded by their parents. However, if the wish to have a baby has been fulfilled (yet), expectant mothers should refrain from paracetamol and ibuprofen in the first trimester of pregnancy so as not to impair the fertility of their own offspring.

What you should consider to maintain or improve the quality of your germ cells:

  • Avoid drinks from PET bottles because of the hormone-like action of the plasticizers
  • Avoid foods contaminated with hormones
  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine and other drugs
  • Use gloves when cleaning and handling chemicals (including hair dyes)
  • Avoid lubricants, hair restorers and, if possible, medicines
  • avoid radiation by frequent X-rays, for safety’s sake do not keep your laptop on your lap and keep your phone in your pocket
  • Men should also avoid tight trousers and heated seats in the car

However, from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, it is only one side of the coin to avoid pollutants and detrimental factors. The TCM works primarily with herbal formulas to improve the quality of the germ cells. In combination with reproductive medicine, this improves the chances of getting healthy offspring.

About the Author