In a previous post, we talked about what gonadotoxins are and how chemicals found in everyday plastics can impact male fertility. But plastic chemicals aren’t the only toxins out there affecting sperm production. Drugs, such as nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, and steroids are common substances that can negatively impact fertility.
Recreational Drug Use
When you consider fertility, sperm count is not the only number that matters. Sperm quality, such as the size and shape of the sperm and the quality of the DNA they carry, are also factors that have been linked to male infertility. These recreational drugs may affect your fertility, especially if you are struggling with infertility. Here’s a list of common drugs and their known effects on fertility:
- Tobacco smoke: Lowers sperm count among men who smoke and possibly men who breathe secondhand smoke.
- Alcohol: Lowers testosterone levels, causes erectile dysfunction, and decreases sperm production. Liver disease caused by excessive drinking may lead to fertility problems as well.
- Cocaine and marijuana: May temporarily reduce the number and quality of sperm.Long-term use of marijuana may result in low sperm count and abnormally-developed sperm.
- Steroids: Anabolic steroids taken to stimulate muscle strength can cause the testicles to shrink and sperm production to significantly decrease.
If you think recreational drug use might be the reason for your infertility, you should talk to your doctor about possible treatments. In many cases, gonadotoxic effects are reversible once exposure to the toxin is eliminated (in this case, once recreational drugs use has ceased). Your doctor may, however, recommend additional treatments, to help improve these and additional adverse effects of recreational drugs such as erectile dysfunction, or decreased testosterone, among others.