Painkillers linked to global sperm decline

The global decline in sperm counts may be due to the use of common painkillers, scientists have revealed. Researchers found that women who take analgesics such as paracetamol and ibuprofen during pregnancy are at increased risk of giving birth to sons with reproductive disorders.

Those who took painkillers regularly, especially in the second trimester, were at increased risk of having a baby boy with undescended testicles. The condition affects one in 17 boys in the UK and is linked to lower sperm counts in adulthood and an increased risk of testicular cancer.

Surveys show more than half of women in Europe and the US take painkillers during pregnancy. Global sperm counts have fallen by over half in 50 years and rates of testicular cancer and abnormalities of the reproductive organs have soared.