DRUGS AND MALE FERTILITY
- July 31, 2018
Apart from the many other reasons people shouldn’t do illegal drugs, studies show that certain substances can affect the male reproductive system, lessening the chances of having offspring. Some drugs affect sperm count, sperm motility (movement), and the testes, and can even pass on damaged genes to children.
Anabolic steroids (also called anabolic-androgenic steroids) are drugs that are used to build muscle mass and decrease body fat. They interfere with the hormone signals that help produce sperm. The amount of damage done depends on length and dosage of use, but most men can regain sperm function within three to twelve months.
Heavy alcohol consumption can decrease the production of testosterone and increase estrogen levels in men, which lowers sperm production.
Tobacco factors into about 13 percent of cases of male reproduction problems. It can cause DNA damage in the cord blood of the offspring, an increase in miscarriage of the female partner, and congenital malformations and low birth weight of the fetus. It can also be harmful to children after they are born. The toxins can cling to surfaces in your household even after you stop smoking, causing respiratory problems.
The cannabinoids in marijuana are synthesized by the human body, so our cells have natural receptors for them. If the cannabinoids latch onto cells in the testes or the sperm, it can cause problems with sperm function. About 33 percent of frequent marijuana users have low sperm counts. Marijuana can also cause a decreased sex drive.
Cocaine causes vasoconstriction (the narrowing of blood cells), which leads to erectile dysfunction.
Long term use of opiates can lead to issues with the reproductive system due to suppression of the hormone GnRH, which plays a role in sperm cell production. Short term use, such as taking a course of pain pills as prescribed, has no effect on male fertility.
Amphetamines cause damage to the seminiferous tubules, which act as a support system for the testis. Like with steroids, this leads to lowered testosterone production. Men who use methamphetamine may initially experience some benefits to sexual activity, such as heightened arousal, but continued use can cause erectile dysfunction and problems achieving orgasm. It is possible for the sperm themselves to be harmed by vascular constriction and blood flow issues. There is also a risk of heart deformities in children.
With MDMA or ecstasy use, sperm still retain motility, or move around normally, but there aren’t as many produced, which lowers your chances of reproduction. As with meth, MDMA can lead to heart abnormalities in children.
There are ways to repair damage to sperm count and motility. Stopping illegal drug use and smoking, and cutting down to a moderate amount of alcohol, can reverse many of the negative effects. There are also hormone treatments and medications that can help.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504.