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How drugs and alcohol affect your fertility

By Docta, Oct 12, 2014 | | |
  1. Docta
    GENTLEMEN, if you like to party and also plan to have kids one day, we’ve got some bad news for you. Men produce literally millions of sperm a day, but it is still common for a healthy man with a fertile partner to take a year to conceive. But there is solid evidence that drug use can seriously disadvantage your little swimmers — and damage your chances of starting a family. Some studies are more conclusive than others and, often they only examine heavy drug users, but it still makes for some sobering reading. Guard your loins, gents. This is what drugs do to your sperm.


    It is typically seen as the least harmful of illicit drugs, but cannabis can pretty much turn your little swimmers into burnouts. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, decreases sperm production and weakens sexual drive by interfering with the production of testosterone. US reproductive expert Ricardo Yazigi told Vice that 33 per cent of chronic users had low sperm counts.

    He said the active components in the drug were synthesised by the body, which actually made sperm less active. “Binding of the active components and metabolites of marijuana to receptors on sperm themselves has also been shown to lead to decreasing motility rates,” Dr Yazigi said, which means the drug impairs the sperm’s ability to move properly through the female reproductive tract and fertilise an egg. There is less evidence about how those who might have an occasional joint or two are affected. “No good studies have been done but the prevailing thought is that while these men will have rapid recovery to their sperm function with briefer ... use, they should avoid use when trying to get pregnant as well,” Dr Yazigi said. Fertility treatment expert Amin Gafar says people who had used cannabis recently should wait a month before tyring to conceive.


    Well, this is a relief. Light to moderate drinking does not appear to affect male fertility. But it’s not such a rosy picture for heavy drinkers. Too much alcohol can decrease testosterone and actually increase a man’s oestrogen, which is women’s primary sex hormone. All of this is bad news for sperm production. However, the harmful effects can be reversed if you cut back on the beers. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends men and women drink no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion to avoid health effects.


    Cocaine can lead to erectile dysfunction because the drug narrows the blood vessels, a process known as vasoconstriction. But studies on the effects of cocaine by itself are limited because users tend to use cocaine with a cocktail of other drugs. “Most of the time there’s coexistence of the use of cocaine along with alcohol and cigarettes and other drugs, so the single cocaine users are almost a rarity,” Dr Yazigi told Vice. Animal studies have concluded that there are receptors for coke in the testicles and sperm, and the drug can degenerate the testicular tissue. Some trials even found that cocaine could be transferred from the sperm to the female egg, which can lead to early miscarriage.


    Long-term use of this class of drugs, which includes heroin, OxyContin and vicodin, can damage the male reproductive system because it suppresses the hormone GnNH, which is normally secreted by the organ that controls the pituitary gland. This leads to a decline in the hormones needed to create sperm. There also evidence that opiates can fragment DNA within sperm, leading to lower fertilisation rates and miscarriage.


    Meth, aka ice, is one of the most insidious drugs and, while sperm count may not be top of mind for users, it does have a direct effect on fertility. The drug can damage men’s seminiferous tubules, the place where sperm germinates, matures and transports in the testes. Drug expert Fernando Caudevilla told Vice that the main problem with these drugs was the risk of heart deformity in children.


    There isn’t much conclusive research, but ecstasy can damage the production of testosterone, damage sperm DNA, degenerate testicle tissue and reduced sperm count. Like meth, there is also the danger that MDMA can cause heart problems in children.


    The abuse of anabolic steroids can lead to secondary hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, which is essentially the diminished function of the testes. The drugs, popular with professional body builders and recreational power athletes, are used to build muscle mass, and can interfere with the hormone signals that are needed to produce sperm, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

    LSD (acid)

    Studies are limited but if you’re on acid and keen to reproduce, there is no conclusive evidence that the drug affects sperm. Shagadelic.

    The bottom line

    The good news is that if you manage to kick your habit, you can return to normal sperm production.
    Dr Yazigi said it takes about three weeks to clear affected sperm from your system and normal spermatogenesis (sperm production) will return in three to six months. For some men, however, it may take a few years.

    News Limited Copyright © 2014
    October 08, 2014


  1. detoxin momma
    I just want to say that I appreciate this information.

    my husband and I have been together almost 14 years,exclusively.

    we had 2 kids a decade ago.

    he was an alcoholic.hasnt had a drink in 10 months.
    I got pregnant 5-6 months ago.almost 4 months after he quit drinking.

    I can testify first hand that too much alcohol does kill your sperm count,or slow them down or whatever....no doubt about it.

    thanks for adding substance to my suspicion.
  2. 3oro
    I dont drink ha so my little boys n girls are safe to go! Having said that I dont plan on getting anyone pregnant anytime soon. HELL NO!
  3. KratomBound
    Any info regarding Opioids in this matter? Like, you guessed it, Kratom for example? It would be a reasonable guess to think it applied the same as opiates, but there are differences like synthetic vs. natural, and different actives. Or do the problems stem from receptor activity maybe? Just guesswork on my part, I would just be interested in info on this as I am an avid Kratom user and would like to have kids later on.

    I also think it would be good to include any possible info on cannabinoids and other research chems, though it is understandable if one is hard pressed to find such info.
  4. Booty love
    i had an 8 year addiction of heavy cocaine use, i've tripped 50-100 times on lsd, taken over a hundred xtc pills, drank like a fish for many years and have been a daily user of cannabis for many years. I have 3 kids, including twins. I'm mos def the minority to this story.
  5. KratomBound
    ^With those numbers I'm not too worried lol, I'd still like to be well-informed though in case I ever have any issues.
  6. Alien Sex Fiend
    Does sperm count really matter? If you do the artefactual insemination...
  7. perro-salchicha614
    Artificial insemination isn't an option for a lot of people. From what I understand, it's relatively expensive. Of course, it's still much cheaper than raising the child if the woman actually gets pregnant as a result, but that's a topic for another discussion...
  8. Docta
    It has been establish for some time that sperm from direct male ejaculation has a vastly superior viability then sperm collected for artificial insemination, we don't know why the swimmers out of the deluxe applicator (penis) are better then the ones out of the fringe but they are. They maybe able to do away with men some day but not just yet.
  9. Alien Sex Fiend
    isn't there a procedure where a doc pierces one's khem jewels with a needle and draws some fresh semen out? It doesn't have to come from a fridge
  10. Docta
    Technically yes an extraction by catheter is possible but that has no effect on viability.

    It seems to have something to do with the sympathetic nervous system and the human to human contact not freshness, if that's the right word.
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