Popular Pain Medications Inhibit Ovulation

kali's picture

Some pretty big headlines made the news this week, based off of a brand new study presented at a European Rheumatism Congress (EULAR 2015) that suggested that certain anti-inflammatory medications can significantly impact a woman’s fertility.


The drugs – diclofenac, naproxen and etoricoxib – significantly inhibited ovulation in women using them for mild aches and pains.  To be honest, the effect was eye-opening (even for me):


Of the women using the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), here's what they found:

            -93.7% of women on diclofenac (aka Voltaren) did not ovulate

            -75% of women on naproxen (aka Aleve) did not ovulate

            -and 72.7% of women using etoricoxib (not available in Canada) also didn't ovulate

            …compared to the control group, in which 0% of women failed to ovulate.


These are very significant reductions in ovulatory rates.


Important to note here is that the women used these medications for only ten days, which is a fairly short intervention time with a major impact.


In the study, they saw a significant decrease in progesterone production across all treatment groups, and the development of functional cysts in 1/3 of patients.  So even short-term use of these popular pain meds can have significant effects on a woman’s ability to conceive.  Many women with rheumatic diseases or chronic pain take these medications on a regular basis over long periods of time, likely with little to no awareness of the impact.  NSAIDs are available over the counter, and worldwide are taken by more than 30 million people every day.


The deets:

-39 women of childbearing age took part in the study, each of them suffering from back pain

-dose of the medications used were 100mg once daily diclofenac, 500mg twice daily naproxen, 90mg once daily etoricoxib or placebo

-meds were given for 10 days from cycle day 10 onward

-they measured progesterone levels and follicle diameter via blood tests and ultrasound


Moral of the study? If you have aches and pains and take medication for them, be aware that these may be affecting your ability to conceive.  Lucky for us, acupuncture is an incredibly safe and effective method to reduce pain, and it also boosts conception rates.


In health,


Dr. Kali MacIsaac HBSc, ND
Naturopathic Doctor