Recent research by the University of Edinburgh suggests that paracetamol use by pregnant women could lead to a reduction in future fertility for their daughters. The study, which was on rats, showed that when paracetamol was given during pregnancy, the female offspring had smaller ovaries, fewer eggs and smaller litters of babies. Indeed the research team also found that the grand-daughters of the exposed pregnant rats also had reproductive function adversely affected. The findings are significant because of the similarities between the reproductive systems of rats and humans. The scientists said that further research is needed because this study was about prolonged exposure to paracetamol and now they need to look at the effects of shorter exposure and in lower doses. Exposed male offspring in this study were also affected, resulting in fewer sperm cells, although the effect had reduced by the time they were adults. Previous research published in 2015 also showed an effect on male offspring - testosterone was reduced by 45% after 7 days of exposure.
At the Natural Fertility Centre we have long been advising women who are trying to conceive not to take ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories because of the links with ovulation disorders, implantation problems and miscarriage. This new research about paracetamol now also needs to be taken into account. Women are advised to use painkillers at the lowest possible dose, for the shortest possible time - alternatives like acupuncture can be very effective with all kinds of pain including headaches and period pain.