Drugs & Medication and Sperm Health

Top 5 Drugs That Affect Sperm Health

This article will describe the influence of various legal and illegal drugs on sperm health and male fertility.

Which Drugs Affect Sperm Health And Fertility?

Male fertility is complex and depends on many external and internal factors, and certain drugs may affect your sperm health and production. Certain steps may also be taken to help improve sperm health.

It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any medication, especially if you are trying to conceive.

Let’s take a look at some of the common drugs that influence sperm health or male fertility.

Testosterone Supplements

Recently, there has been a boom in the supplement market. Some call it the “low T-boom.”

Exogenous testosterone activates a negative feedback loop in your body. That means when you have high testosterone levels, your brain receives a signal to tone down testosterone production in the body because you have more than enough.

If this goes on long enough, it can lead to low libido and poor sexual health.

Testosterone is an androgen (male hormone) that supports spermatogenesis hormone. In addition to the process of making sperm, testosterone supplements also affect the regulation of other sex hormones.

For instance, high testosterone levels in the body decrease the secretion of follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Both these are involved in the division of spermatozoa and their maturation in testes.

Therefore, people who take testosterone supplements may notice a drop in their sperm analysis parameters.

Marijuana

The jury is still out with regards to marijuana's impact on male fertility.

Some studies suggest that marijuana may affect sperm and fertility. However, most of the reasearch has been done in animals within limited data for human effects. If you are planning on becoming a father, it's important to discuss this topic and seek advice from a medical professional.

Cocaine

The risk of low sperm count is double in cocaine users as compared to non-users. Cocaine activates your sympathetic nervous system. It makes you hyperactive, increases your heart rate, and puts you into a fight or flight mode. Cocaine also causes your blood vessels to constrict and may impede its flow in the body.

The theory is that this decrease in blood flow deprives testes of essential nutrients and oxygen. Data shows abnormalities in seminiferous tubules of the testes of cocaine users, leading to decreased sperm count and mobility in some studies.

Ecstasy

The effect of ecstasy on sperm health needs further research. However, animal data suggests  that it may affect testosterone secretion and sperm DNA damage.

Opiates

Opiates have both recreational and medical uses—unfortunately, they can also affect your sperm.

Opioids may lead to a drop in testosterone levels and sperm production, decreasing the likelihood of pregnancy.

Apart from the aforementioned illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco usage also influence sperm parameters.

Prescription Medications

Many FDA-approved medicines may also cause sexual health problems.

Antidepressants

This group of medications is a double-edged sword. Although they are necessary for treating depression, you need to be mindful of their sexual side effects.

Some types of antidepressants cause erectile dysfunction, low libido, and delayed orgasm. While the sperm parameters stay unaffected for the most part, recent data suggests that certain antidepressant may cause DNA fragmentation in the sperm of users.

Hypertension Medications

Rarely, a specific type of hypertension medication, known as calcium channel blockers, may lower your sperm concentration. One case study suggests that they may temporarily reduce the ability of sperm to fertilize the ovum, but more data is needed.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy has extensive adverse effects on the entire body, including sperm health. The reason behind this is the inability of these chemicals to discriminate between cancerous and normal body cells. In trying the target the cancer cells, sperm cells may also be affected.

What Are The Options For People Who Use These Drugs?

If you take any of these medications or foresee a potential future use, you should talk to your healthcare provider about your fertility questions.

If you have already started these medications, you can take an in-home semen analysis test. It allows you to monitor your sperm parameters before you can preserve them.

References

  1. Brezina, P. R., Yunus, F. N., & Zhao, Y. (2012). Effects of pharmaceutical medications on male fertility. Journal of reproduction & infertility, 13(1), 3–11.
  2. Ding, J., Shang, X., Zhang, Z., Jing, H., Shao, J., Fei, Q., Rayburn, E. R., & Li, H. (2017). FDA-approved medications that impair human spermatogenesis. Oncotarget, 8(6), 10714–10725.
  3. Safarinejad, M. R., Asgari, S. A., Farshi, A., Ghaedi, G., Kolahi, A. A., Iravani, S., & Khoshdel, A. R. (2013). The effects of opiate consumption on serum reproductive hormone levels, sperm parameters, seminal plasma antioxidant capacity, and sperm DNA integrity. Reproductive toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.), 36, 18–23.
  4. Barenys, M., Macia, N., Camps, L., de Lapuente, J., Gomez-Catalan, J., Gonzalez-Linares, J., Borras, M., Rodamilans, M., & Llobet, J. M. (2009). Chronic exposure to MDMA (ecstasy) increases DNA damage in sperm and alters testes histopathology in male rats. Toxicology letters, 191(1), 40–46.