Before reaching for anti-inflammatories, women may have concerns about their potential effects on birth control.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — including ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen — are generally considered safe and effective at reducing inflammation and relieving pain.
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Hormone-based birth control methods, such as pills, patches, injections, implants and vaginal rings, are considered safe and pose few risks of interaction with other medications, the University of Colorado said. Still, women should use caution and consult a doctor about any possible interactions.
NSAIDs and oral contraceptives both are common treatments for painful menstrual cramps, with NSAIDs being the treatment of choice as they have a direct analgesic effect and reduce the volume of menstrual flow, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
A study presented at the European League Against Rheumatism in 2015 found that NSAIDs significantly inhibited ovulation, raising concerns that the use of such anti-inflammatories should be avoided by women wishing to start families.
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The percentage of women who ovulated was 6.3 percent of women taking diclofenac, 25 percent of women taking naproxen, 27.3 percent taking etoricoxib, and 100 percent of the control group.
"After just 10 days of treatment we saw a significant decrease in progesterone, a hormone essential for ovulation, across all treatment groups, as well as functional cysts in one third of patients," study investigator Professor Sami Salman, Department of Rheumatology, University of Baghdad, Iraq, said in a statement. "These findings show that even short-term use of these popular, over-the-counter drugs could have a significant impact on a women's ability to have children. This needs to be better communicated to patients with rheumatic diseases, who may take these drugs on a regular basis with little awareness of the impact."
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