Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on Male Fertility
While it has been well documented how the use of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy can affect a developing fetus, the fact that these substances can also harm male fertility is not as well known. When you and your partner are trying to conceive, it is best to cut alcohol and drugs from your life.
Men who regularly drink large amounts of alcohol or engage in binge drinking (four or more drinks in one evening) are likely to have serious problems with their fertility. Alcoholics often have problems with achieving and maintaining an erection. Additionally, because alcohol damages the liver, alcoholics are more likely to have higher levels of estrogen in their body, which can severely suppress sperm. Moreover, alcohol abuse has been linked with damaged sperm and reduced sperm counts.
Even if you are not a heavy drinker, you may want to cut back on your drinking habits. Studies have shown that women who drink moderate amounts of alcohol (one to five drinks per week) can have impaired fertility. While the effects of moderate drinking have not been properly studied in men, it is likely that regular alcohol consumption could impair male fertility as well.
Recreational drug use has also been associated with male infertility. Narcotics like heroin, amphetamines, cocaine and PCP have been linked with a decrease in libido, erectile dysfunction and ejaculatory problems. Heroin, as well as other drugs, has been shown to disrupt normal hormone production causing diminished LH and testosterone levels. However, both of these hormones are need in order for the male reproductive system to function properly and for healthy sperm development.
Cocaine in particular has been shown to significantly impact a man's fertility and even contribute to birth defects in a child. Men who use cocaine have been found to have lower sperm counts, reduced sperm motility, as well as an increase the amount of abnormal sperm. Cocaine use just prior to conceiving has also been associated with birth defects in children.
Athletes who use anabolic steroids to help increase their muscle mass are also advised to skip the drugs if they are hoping to have a child. These steroids have been shown to interfere with proper sperm production and to lower a man’s sperm count.