The Effects of Drugs on Fertility

If you and your partner are having difficulties conceiving, then you are probably eager to find out if you are suffering from an underlying fertility problem. Sometimes, infertility can be the result of reproductive issues caused by the use of recreational and prescription drugs. Though you may not realise it, drugs including steroids, alcohol, and tobacco, can have a very negative on both the male and female reproductive systems. In fact, it is believed that drug use plays a role in a large percentage of many of unexplained fertility cases.

What Are The Effects Of Alcohol On Fertility?

Prescription Drugs and Fertility


Drugs that are prescribed to help manage and treat certain illnesses and diseases can sometimes have a negative affect on both male and female fertility. If you are trying to conceive, it is important to speak with your health care provider about the possible effects that your prescribed medication may have on your fertility. Drugs including steroid shots, high blood pressure medication, and antidepressants can all negatively affect the reproductive system. The most common side effect of these medications is loss of libido, however, some of these medications can also lead to:

  • lowered sperm count
  • erectile dysfunction
  • menstrual irregularities

Alcohol and Fertility


Heavy consumption of alcohol has a startling effect on both male and female fertility. Men and women who drink more than six alcoholic beverages per day are more likely to suffer from hormonal imbalances, affecting both the generation of sperm and ovulation. Women who are heavy drinkers commonly suffer from:

  • luteal phase defects
  • anovulation
  • amenorrhea

Men who are heavy drinkers can suffer from:

  • low sperm count
  • poor sperm motility
  • poor sperm morphology

The affects of light to moderate alcohol consumption on fertility are, unfortunately, less well known. It does appear that moderate alcohol consumption can kill off some sperm-producing cells in the testicles and may contribute to impaired sperm morphology. Some studies also show that women who are light to moderate drinkers may experience some hormonal imbalances.

Tobacco and Fertility


Most men and women are familiar with the hazards of tobacco use during pregnancy. However, few people recognise that tobacco has the potential to affect your chances of conceiving. In fact, cigarette smoking and tobacco chewing have both been related to a number of fertility problems in both men and women.

Men who smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco often have low sperm counts and poor sperm motility, both of which can drastically reduce a couple's chances of conceiving. Women who smoke can suffer from reduced ovarian reserve and chromosomal abnormalities, and are at increased risk of suffering from a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Marijuana and Fertility


Marijuana use has long been thought to play a role in both female and male infertility. However, it is only in the past few years that any research supporting this theory has become available. According to a study performed in 2003, regular cannabis smoking can have serious effects on male infertility including:

  • lowered sperm count
  • decreased volume of seminal fluid
  • poor sperm motility

Additionally, those sperm that do enter the vaginal canal tend to be over stimulated as a result of the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This causes sperm to slow down when they approach the egg, and, as a result, they are unable to break through the egg's outer casing.

Female fertility also appears to be affected by regular use of marijuana. Women who smoke the drug regularly secrete small amounts of THC in their vaginal fluid and also have trace amounts present in their reproductive organs. Sperm that come into contact with this THC absorb the drug and become over stimulated.

Steroids and Fertility


Anabolic steroids are derived from the male hormone, testosterone. As a result, use of steroids can have a dramatic affect on both the male and female reproductive system, permanently affecting fertility. In men, steroid use can lead to:

  • decreased sperm production
  • increased numbers of abnormal sperm
  • erectile dysfunction
  • atrophy of the testicles

Steroids can also negatively affect female fertility, inhibiting the release of luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones needed for ovulation, disrupting menstruation, and causing the appearance of masculine traits.

Other Drugs


Street drugs, including cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy have all been shown to have dramatic affects on male and female fertility. Long-term use of these drugs can lead to permanent reproductive problems and could prevent you from becoming pregnant. Men who use cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy often suffer from:

  • reduced libido
  • abnormally-shaped sperm
  • poor sperm count

Women who use these drugs can also be affected, and may suffer from:

  • ovulatory dysfunction
  • menstrual irregularities
  • reduced ovarian reserves

Talk with other women about the effects of drugs on fertility in our forum.

 

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