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
- blood pressure medications
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.