Anti inflammatories: the startling side effects

Aching joints, headaches, inflammations – at the first sign of these many of us reach for the pain relief, usually an anti inflammatory painkiller like Ibuprofen.

Woman in green jumper holding her head to ease headacheAnd if these don’t work, often our GP will prescribe a stronger version such as Diclofenac or Naproxen.

These can really help with the pain, but did you know they could also be affecting your fertility and your hormones?

As a herbalist I work with women who want to become pregnant. A significant number of these women are, shall we say, over 21. Rather like myself.

Joint pain and headaches become more common as we leave our early 20s and those who have arthritic conditions in the family or who have been committed sports and fitness enthusiasts will see the first signs of wear and tear from mid 30s.

Hence the need for the non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (known medically as NSAIDS).

However, a study by the University of Baghdad has shown that women taking any one of a variety of NSAIDS have severely impaired ovulation compared with a control group who were not taking any medicines and were of comparable age.

Ovulation rates were as follows:

Drug Ovulation rate
Diclofenac sodium 6.3%
Naproxen 25%
Etoricoxib 27.3%
Control group (no drug) 100%

The small-scale trial showed that levels of progesterone – a hormone essential for successful pregnancy – and follicle size – where the new unfertilized egg develops – were both impaired.

It is not yet known how progesterone is impaired or at what level it starts to prevent ovulation but we do know that if you don’t ovulate you cannot become pregnant naturally, which highlights the urgent need for further investigation.

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If you want to get pregnant and suffer from joint pain, rheumatic disease or are in the habit of reaching for pain relief in the event of a headache you should seriously consider a natural alternative without these worrying effects.

Close up of turmeric powder on bamboo matHerbalists have used turmeric for thousands of years to reduce inflammation and pain. Every year research is proving how effective it is for tackling inflammation and rheumatic disease.

Headaches can be symptoms of other hormonal issues. If you are getting regular headaches, stop taking the tablets and see your herbalist for some practical help in getting them under control.

Simple herbs like bitters, dandelion and betony can relieve your symptoms without recourse to tablets.

Who knows, you may sort out your headaches, sore knees and fertility problems all in one go.

Find out more…

Katherine Bellchambers-Wilson

About Katherine Bellchambers-Wilson

Passionate about looking good and feeling great, I’m a BSc qualified herbalist who won’t make you give up your chocolate, coffee or alcohol (unless you have a stomach ulcer and then only for a while). I believe a little of what you fancy does you good and that all work and no play just spoils a perfectly good Sunday. Herbal medicine harnesses the power of plants to help nudge your body into balance so you can get on with doing what’s important. BSc MNIMH