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7 Medications That Negatively Affect Sperm Health

When it comes to building a family, it’s important to be aware that certain legal and illegal drugs can have adverse effects on male fertility. In this article, we’ll explore the impact of various medications and substances on fertility in men and those assigned male at birth. From antidepressants to opioids, we’ll discuss how these substances can affect your reproductive health and what you can do to mitigate their effects.

Both prescription medications and recreational drugs can influence your ability to conceive a child. While many of these effects are reversible upon discontinuation of the drug, some may lead to lasting male infertility. To safeguard your fertility, it’s crucial to discuss any medications you’re taking with your healthcare provider, particularly if you have aspirations of parenthood.

Aside from affecting fertility, recreational drugs can have far-reaching consequences on your overall well-being, putting your health at risk in various ways. Seeking treatment for drug addiction not only benefits your health but also creates a safer and more stable environment for your future children.


7 Common Medications and Their Impact on Male Fertility

Let’s delve deeper into specific prescription medications and their potential impact on male fertility:

1. Alpha-blockers: Alpha-blockers, used to treat urinary symptoms related to an enlarged prostate, may affect fertility. Silodosin and tamsulosin (Rapaflo® and Flomax®, respectively) can decrease ejaculate volume or even inhibit ejaculation. Consult a urologist for advice on alternative treatment options.

2. Antidepressants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly prescribed for depression and anxiety. They can lead to sexual dysfunction, particularly delayed ejaculation. Concerning male fertility, SSRIs have the potential to decrease sperm count, impede sperm motility (movement), and cause harm to the genetic material (DNA) within the sperm. If you’re on SSRIs, discuss the risks with your healthcare provider.

3. Chemotherapy Medications: Chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer can significantly reduce or halt sperm production. Although sperm production may return for some, it may not for others. If you’re facing chemotherapy, consider sperm freezing before treatment.

4. Opioids (Narcotics): Long-term opioid use can disrupt testosterone production, lowering sperm quantity and quality. Short-term use, such as post-surgery pain control, is less likely to affect fertility. If you have concerns about opioid use, consult your healthcare provider.

5. Testosterone Replacement: Supplemental testosterone can negatively affect sperm production, and may lead to low sperm concentration. This effect is typically reversible, but it may take several months for sperm production to return to normal. However, there are several other health benefits of Testosterone Replacement Therapy for men suffering with low T. If you are taking or planning to take supplemental testosterone, it’s important to get a sperm test so you know the status of your sperm so you can make informed decisions about your health.

6. Ketoconazole: When taken orally, ketoconazole, used to treat fungal infections, can inhibit testosterone production and reduce sperm production. Applying it topically on the skin is unlikely to affect fertility.

7. 5-alpha-Reductase Inhibitors: Medications like Propecia® and Avodart®, used for hair loss and prostate enlargement, can temporarily impact sperm production and semen volume. This effect is usually reversible upon discontinuation.

Other Medications: Several other prescription medications can cause fertility problems, most of which are reversible. Some of these include:

  • anti-epilepsy medications
  • antiretrovirals
  • antibiotics
  • blood pressure medications
  • cimetidine
  • colchicine
  • sulfasalazine

If you’re taking any of these and experience fertility issues, consult a urologist for semen testing.


The Effect of Recreational Drugs on Sperm Quality

Recreational substances like alcohol, anabolic steroids, marijuana, tobacco, and methamphetamine can have adverse effects on male fertility. Excessive alcohol consumption, steroid abuse, and marijuana use can reduce sperm production and impair sexual drive. Smoking is linked to decreased sperm production and mobility. Methamphetamine’s impact on human fertility is uncertain, but it has been shown to reduce sperm motility in animal studies. Avoiding these substances, either entirely or at least in moderation, and seeking treatment for addiction are essential for protecting fertility and overall health.

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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.