Analgesic use in pregnancy and male reproductive development.

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Male reproductive disorders are common and increasing in incidence in many countries. Environmental factors (including pharmaceuticals) have been implicated in the development of these disorders. This review aims to summarize the emerging epidemiological and experimental evidence for a potential role of in-utero exposure to analgesics in the development of male reproductive disorders.


A number of epidemiological studies have demonstrated an association between in utero exposure to analgesics and the development of cryptorchidism, although these findings are not consistent across all studies. Where present, these associations primarily relate to exposure during the second trimester of pregnancy. In vivo and in vitro experimental studies have demonstrated variable effects of exposure to analgesics on Leydig cell function in the fetal testis of rodents, particularly in terms of testosterone production. These effects frequently involve exposures that are in excess of those to which humans are exposed. Investigation of the effects of analgesics on human fetal testis have also demonstrated effects on Leydig cell function. Variation in species, model system, dosage and timing of exposure is likely to contribute to differences in the findings between studies.


There is increasing evidence for analgesic effects on the developing testis that have the potential to impair male reproductive function. However, the importance of these findings in relation to human-relevant exposures and the risk of male reproductive disorders remain unclear.

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