Do non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs influence the steroid hormone milieu in male athletes?

Int J Sports Med. 2007 Oct;28(10):809-14. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-964991. Epub 2007 May 11.


Prostaglandins modulate the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal and -gonadal axis pathways. We explored the effects of a single course of treatment with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), an inhibitor of prostaglandin synthesis, on the steroid milieu in athletes. Morning plasma cortisol (F), dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate, free-testosterone, testosterone (T) and their ratios were evaluated before and after the administration of either ASA or placebo in twelve male athletes, when affected by minor musculoskeletal trauma and, as control, after a five/six week wash-out in healthy conditions respectively. One tablet of ASA (800 mg), or placebo, was administered two times daily for 10 days during treatment. All the volunteers suspended exercise training during treatment. The results revealed that compared to placebo, plasma F was significantly lower after ASA treatment (p = 0.023). Furthermore, the comparison of hormone's absolute and percentage of variations (Delta and Delta%) between ASA and placebo treatment showed significant differences respectively for DeltaF (p = 0.045), for DeltaT (p = 0.047), for DeltaT/F (p = 0.042), for DeltaF% (p = 0.04) and for DeltaT% (p = 0.049). Our data suggest that in comparison to placebo, a short-term ASA treatment is able to influence the plasma steroid milieu in athletes. Due to the observed variability of the individual hormonal patterns, further research is required to substantiate these findings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology*
  • Aspirin / administration & dosage
  • Aspirin / pharmacology*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / analysis
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate / blood
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / drug effects*
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries
  • Placebos
  • Testosterone / analysis
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Testosterone / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Placebos
  • Testosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Aspirin