Ibuprofen use in early pregnancy might impact female offspring’s fertility

Research has shown for the first time that ibuprofen use may negatively affect foetuses as early as in the first trimester

ibuprofen tablets

Evidence from rodents indicates that analgesic use in pregnancy can impair the offspring’s future reproductive capacity.

In a paper in Human Reproduction (2 February 2018), researchers studied 185 ovarian samples from human foetuses at weeks 7–12 of development, and exposed them to ibuprofen at a range of concentrations (from 1–100μM) for 2, 4 or 7 days[1]

The researchers also measured ibuprofen levels in umbilical cord blood and showed that placental transfer of ibuprofen occurs as early as in the first trimester.

Exposure to 10μM and 100μM ibuprofen resulted in a number of effects indicating impaired ovarian development, including reduced cell number, fewer proliferating cells, increased cell death and dramatic loss of germ cells. At 10μM ibuprofen, cell death was observed after just two days.

The results indicate that ibuprofen consumption could have a deleterious effect on foetal ovaries in the first trimester of pregnancy. Given that ibuprofen is currently only contraindicated from week 24 of pregnancy, there is an urgent need for further investigations, the team concluded.


[1] Leverrier-Penna S, Mitchell R, Becker E et al. Ibuprofen is deleterious for the development of first trimester human fetal ovary ex vivo. Hum Rep 2018;33(3):482–493. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dex383

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, April 2018, Vol 10, No 4;10(4):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204466