In this article, we’ll look at how various drugs and substances can affect the fertility of men and people assigned male at birth. In addition, we’ll look at what you can do to mitigate their effects. Preserving your fertility requires a discussion with your healthcare professional about any medications you’re taking, especially if you’re considering starting a family.
Prescription drugs and male fertility
Some prescription medications can have a temporary or permanent impact on male fertility. These drugs include
- Alpha-blockers: used to treat urinary symptoms associated with prostate enlargement, they can affect fertility by reducing sperm count.
- Antidepressants (SSRIs): in addition to altering sperm motility, these drugs can damage their genetic material.
- Chemotherapy drugs: used to treat cancer, they can considerably reduce or stop sperm production.
- Opiates: long-term use can disrupt testosterone production, reducing sperm quantity and quality.
- Ketoconazole: taken orally for fungal infections, it can inhibit testosterone production and reduce sperm output.
- 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors: drugs such as Propecia® and Avodart®, used for hair loss and prostate hypertrophy, may have a temporary impact on sperm production and semen volume.
- Other medications: many other prescription drugs can cause fertility problems, most of which are reversible. These include anticonvulsants, antiretrovirals, antibiotics, antihypertensives, cimetidine, colchicine and sulfasalazine.
If you are taking any of these medications and are experiencing fertility problems, consult a urologist for a sperm test.
Effects of recreational drugs on sperm quality
Recreational substances such as alcohol, anabolic steroids, marijuana and tobacco can also adversely affect men’s reproductive health. Alcohol abuse, excessive steroid use and marijuana have a negative impact on sperm production and libido. The effect of methamphetamine is uncertain, but animal studies have shown that it reduces sperm mobility.
It is therefore essential to avoid these substances whenever possible, or to consume them in moderation. If you are addicted to any of these drugs, it is important to seek treatment to preserve your fertility and overall health.
Fertility recovery after discontinuing treatment
In many cases, the effects of drugs on male fertility are reversible once treatment is stopped. However, it may take several months for sperm production to return to normal. It is therefore important to consult a healthcare professional if you are considering discontinuing a medication that affects your fertility.
Tips to protect your fertility and overall health
To preserve fertility and promote good overall health, here are a few tips:
- Avoid potentially harmful fertility drugs, or discuss them with your doctor.
- Limit consumption of alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in antioxidants to promote sperm quality.
- Exercise regularly, but avoid strenuous exercise, which can raise scrotal temperature and impair sperm production.
- Control your weight, as obesity can contribute to fertility problems.
- Manage stress, which can also have an impact on sperm quality.
- If you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone levels, consult a doctor to discuss possible replacement therapy.
In short, being aware of the adverse effects of drugs and substances on male fertility is crucial to preserving your chances of starting a family. Don’t hesitate to talk to your healthcare professional about the treatments you are undergoing and the lifestyle changes you need to make to protect your fertility.
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