Struggling to get pregnant is incredibly painful for the nearly 1.5 million women who face infertility each year. For many of them, there is no obvious cause, leaving millions of women questioning, “Why can’t I get pregnant?”
NSAIDs can impair your fertility
For at least some of those women, the answer may be as close the medicine cabinet. Women who are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be inadvertently stopping their ovulation.[1-3]
NSAIDs include over-the-counter drugs such as
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- Naproxen sodium (Aleve)
- Aspirin (Ascriptin, Bayer, Ecotrin)
There are also many prescription NSAIDs, including brand names like Anaprox, Celebrex, Indocin, Toradol, Voltaren, and more. (Find a list of NSAIDs here.)
The NSAIDs and infertility link has been known for quite a while
While the link between NSAIDs and infertility isn’t newly discovered, it’s not common knowledge to many women.[2,3] Sami Salman, MD, and his colleagues from the University of Baghdad, are the most recent researchers to investigate the connection and are urging physicians to let their young female patients know about the link.
Research shows that NSAIDs prevent ovulation, lower progesterone
Dr. Salman and colleagues evaluated 39 women who suffered from back pain and would benefit from the pain relief of NSAIDs. At the start of the study, each woman had her progesterone measured and had an ultrasound to measure ovary size, endothelial thickness, and dominant follicle size.
Each was then given either diclofenac 100 mg per day, naproxen 500 mg twice per day, etoricoxib 90 mg per day, or placebo. The same tests were repeated after 10 days.
When the women were re-examined, the researchers found that ovulation was dramatically reduced in the women who were taking NSAIDs.
- Diclofenac reduced ovulation by 93%
- Naproxen and etoricoxib reduced ovulation by 75%.
Furthermore, there was a significant decrease in progesterone among the NSAID groups.
NSAID-induced infertility is reversible
The good news is that the effect is reversible. Dr. Salman’s team was able to follow up with half of the women and found that they all resumed ovulating after discontinuing the drugs.
If you’re trying to get pregnant—whether you’re just starting out or have been trying for a while—stay away from NSAIDs. Read more about improving fertility in our blog How to Increase Fertility Naturally. I also highly recommend picking up the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health by Toni Weschler.
Share your story
Have you experienced NSAID-induced infertility? Or have you found natural ways to increase your fertility? Please share your stories and suggestions in the comments section below.
 European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) Congress 2015: Abstract OP0131, Presented June 11, 2015. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/846552
 Prescrire Int. 2002 Aug;11(60):115-6.
 Rheumatology (Oxford). 2000 Aug;39(8):880-2.
Correction: The original article incorrectly identified listed Tylenol as an NSAID. We apologize for the error.