Previously, the male reproductive disorder of crytochidism, or undescended testicles, was blamed on environmental pollution and endocrine disruptors like phthalates. Now, scientists say it could have more to do with the use of painkillers by a pregnant mother.
Male Reproductive Disorder Linked to Painkiller Use by Pregnant Moms
Undescended testicles occur when the male reproductive organs are actually inside of the body rather than descended. Often the condition is handled with surgery and can affect male fertility in adulthood.
The Guardian reports scientists in France, Finland, and Denmark have determined that taking more than one “mild painkiller” at a time during pregnancy could increase the risk of undescended testicles in a male infant by 7 times. Mild painkillers include ibuprofen, aspirin, and paracetamol.
According to researchers, the risk was greatest when the painkillers were taken in the second trimester where the use of any painkiller more than doubled the risk. Ibuprofen and aspirin quadrupled the risk, and taking more than one type of painkiller in the second trimester “increased the risk 16-fold.”
The issue was previously only linked to endocrine disrupters in the environment. Now, experts are saying that “a single paracetamol tablet [500 mg] contains more endocrine disruptor potency than the combined exposure to the 10 most prevalent of the currently known environmental endocrine disruptors during the whole pregnancy.”
Many women use these mild painkillers during pregnancy, unaware of the risks. They reason that the drugs are used by nearly everyone for nearly any ache or twinge of pain, so how on earth could they be harmful? But, evidence from the scientists work reveals something interesting: that pregnant women were reluctant to admit to using the painkillers, perhaps revealing that they were aware there was at least some risk involved, or that they undervalued the effects of the medicine.
Telephone interviews found that women significantly under-reported their use of painkillers in written questionnaires. Among 298 Danish mothers, 30.9% said they used painkillers when they filled in a questionnaire, but 57.2% reported using them when asked in a telephone interview. They explained that they had not considered the tablets to be “medication”.
Of course this isn’t the only issue with OTC painkillers. Taking just a little ‘too much’ Tylenol over the course of days or weeks can be even more deadly than massive overdose. Taking even slightly higher doses than recommended can cause liver damage that is potentially fatal. In fact, Tylenol overdose is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the U.S., creating 26,000 hospitalizations and around 500 deaths each year.
The solution? As always—look for natural pain management alternatives before turning to a pill.