Pregnancy brings more than its fair share of aches and pains. And many women don’t think twice about popping a painkiller like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen to deal with the discomfort.
After all, the marketing for these little over-the-counter bombs has been pretty successful in convincing most of the population that they’re safe as candy.
But could these women be risking their chances for grandchildren when their own children aren’t even out of the womb?
New research from Denmark, Finland, and France says that the answer to that question could, sadly, be a big YES.
A study published in the European journal Human Reproduction shows that women who use analgesics during the second trimester of pregnancy more than double the risk of giving birth to sons with undescended testicles (cryptorchidism). In fact, ibuprofen and aspirin were associated with a quadrupled risk.
Using more than one kind of painkiller simultaneously during the second trimester introduced a 16-fold increased risk of cryptorchidism. Over the course of a pregnancy in general, simultaneous use brought on a seven-fold increased risk.
Cryptorchidism is a risk factor for poor semen quality and testicular germ cell cancer. Researchers went so far as to suggest that these “harmless” painkillers might be a big piece of the puzzle in the increase in male reproductive disorders in the past few decades.
So, why are these painkillers potentially harmful to an unborn son’s later reproductive health?
The answer may lie in a rat study that demonstrated that analgesics disrupt the production of androgen, which slashes testosterone supplies during a crucial time in male organ development. Mild analgesics reduced testosterone in the testes of rat fetuses by about half.
When it comes to this kind of hormone disruption, the use of painkillers is the largest exposure among pregnant women. In fact, as one researcher pointed out, one acetaminophen tablet “contains more endocrine disruptor potency than the combined exposure to the ten most prevalent of the currently known environmental endocrine disruptors during the whole pregnancy.”
It’s all well and good to suggest we throw out the painkillers — but what do you take instead? Search “painkillers” in the archive at www.wrightnewsletter.com.