Infertility can create a tremendous amount of stress and expense in families trying to have children. There are numerous causes of infertility in both men and women, but women want to be sure to check off this common, significant obstacle from their list. Recent research1 shows that certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) may inhibit ovulation and reduce progesterone in women of child-bearing age. This, in turn, can create profound fertility issues.

Sami Salman, M.D. from the University of Baghdad reports “this process is reversible, a woman is not going to get pregnant if she continues to take NSAID’s and doctors need to advise women to stop taking these drugs if they want to be fertile”. Salman reported these findings at the European League Against Rheumatism Congress in Rome. Previous studies have shown how NSAID’s disrupt ovulation in animals. Salman’s work is part of the preliminary human research demonstrating how NSAID’s, both prescription and over-the-counter, can cause infertility in women.

How Some Pain Relievers Cause Infertility

The report is based on a small study of 39 women of child-bearing age suffering with back pain. The women were assigned to one of four treatment groups: diclofenac 100 mg/day, naproxen 500 mg twice daily, etoricoxib 90 mg/day, or placebo.

The women were instructed to start treatment on day 10 of their menstrual cycle. This allowed adequate time for a follicle to develop in preparation for ovulation. The women had ultrasounds performed before treatment was started to measure the size of the dominant follicle, which releases the egg at ovulation. Progesterone levels were also measured at this time. Progesterone is necessary for ovulation to take place as well as helping a fertilized egg attach to the uterine wall. The women started their assigned treatments for 10 days followed by another ultrasound to determine the effects of the treatment.

The Results Are Shocking

Women treated with NSAID’s demonstrated a significant decrease in ovulation compared to the women treated with the placebo. Ovulation was reduced by 93% in the diclofenac group and by about 75% in both the naproxen and etoricoxib groups. All three active treatment groups saw profound decreases in progesterone levels as compared with the women taking the placebo. “This was really a shocking finding,” says Salman. About one-third of the women developed an ovarian cyst due to the unruptured follicle.

About half of the women had another follow-up one month after discontinuing the NSAID treatment and ovulation had returned to normal. So, the good news is the adverse effect on fertility with taking these commonly used pain medications is reversible.

Discontinuing these pain medications may sound like a painful proposition for women who regularly depend on these for relief from their back or neck pain, headaches or muscle aches and soreness.

Natural Strategies To Get Rid of Your Pain Pills

throw away pain pills

There are many natural, safe strategies that can be implemented that are also safe to continue during pregnancy.

  • Chiropractic Adjustments—Chiropractic adjustments can be very helpful for a variety of aches and pains including back pain, neck pain, headaches, shoulder and other joint pain.

  • Acupuncture—This ancient healing art can be very effective at reducing chronic pain

  • Massage—Not only helpful with reducing stress and tension that builds up in your muscles, massage creates a release of endorphins which are effective at relieving pain.

  • Optimize Vitamin D Levels—Getting your Vitamin D to optimal levels, whether through appropriate sun exposure or supplementation can be very helpful at reducing or eliminating chronic pain.

  • Supplement with Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids—These healthy fats are commonly found in fish, grass-fed beef and raw nuts, especially walnuts. Your body uses Omega-3 EFA’s to modulate inflammation. Most people don’t get adequate amounts through their diet alone, making supplementation necessary.

  • Exercise—Regular stretching and strengthening exercises can be very helpful with reducing or eliminating many types of pain. Yoga and tai chi are good examples that are also low impact.

1. Salman S, Sherif B, Al-Zohyri A. Effects of some non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on ovulation in women with mild musculoskeletal pain. Ann Rheum Dis. 2015;74(Suppl 2):117-118.