Antibiotics that cause male infertility
Antibiotics are often prescribed to deal with a variety of bacterial infections and problems. Often, they are only taken for a temporary amount of time and any effects they have on your fertility usually go away after discontinuing the medication. Other antibiotics may be prescribed to help deal with an ongoing problem, like acne, and therefore their use and effects may be prolonged.
Some antibiotics that are known or suspected to interfere with male fertility include:
- Nitrofurantoins: These are often used to treat urinary tract infections. They can lower a man’s sperm count by disrupting the sperm production process.
- Aminoglycosides: This type of antibiotic is generally only used for serious bacterial infections, like TB, and are administered under medical supervision. Aminoglycosides can negatively impact sperm production while neomycin (part of this antibiotic family) has been shown to reduce both sperm count and motility. However, other types of aminoglycosides have not been shown to have the same effects on sperm.
- Minocycline: This antibiotic is often used as an acne medication but can also be used to treat pneumonia, respiratory tract infections, and skin, genital or urinary infections. It is part of the tetracycline family of antibiotics. Although its effects on human sperm are not known, this antibiotic has been found to be toxic to cow sperm and it is believed to be just as toxic in humans.
- Macrolides: In addition to being used to treat chlamydia and Legionnaires disease, macrolides are similar to penicillin and can be used in place of it in people with a penicillin allergy. Macrolides research has mainly focused on animals, where it has been found that the antibiotic can decrease sperm motility as well as kill off sperm. It is believed that the antibiotic produces similar results in humans.
- Sulfasalazine: Mainly used to help bowel inflammation, diarrhea, rectal bleeding and abdominal pain in those with ulcerative colitis, this antibiotic is considered to be an anti-inflammatory drug and therefore is also used to help people with rheumatoid arthritis. Use of sulfasalazine has been shown to decrease male fertility by reducing a man’s sperm count as well as affecting his sperm’s motility and morphology. Fertility should return to normal once the drug is discontinued, though.
Men who have been diagnosed with cancer find that their fertility is affected when they undergo chemotherapy as well as radiation therapy. Often, the drugs used in chemotherapy result in a decrease in sperm count and motility. These effects can be temporary or permanent.
It is strongly recommended that men undergoing chemotherapy discuss with their doctor before starting treatment their desire to have children in the future and what steps can be taken to preserve their fertility. In some cases, sperm banking may be recommended.
Herbs are a very potent type of drug that can be very helpful in treating a number of ailments. However, they are also not a regulated medication and are often not prescribed.
If you use herbal supplements for male infertility, it is best to take advice from a trained naturopath who can advise you on which herbs should be avoided when you are trying to conceive.