Can Drugs or Alcohol Affect Male Fertility?

By now, most people are fully aware that the use-or abuse-of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy can have detrimental and far-reaching effects on the developing baby and that many of these same substances are also known to harm male fertility, making it difficult, if not impossible, for a couple to conceive. If having a baby is a dream of yours and your partners, it would be wise to cut alcohol and drugs entirely from your life. Many of the men who regularly drink larger-than-normal amounts of alcohol--four or more drinks in one evening--could end up having serious and possibly long-term issues with fertility. Because alcohol is known to damage the liver, male alcoholics can end up with higher levels of estrogen in their bodies, which can, in turn, suppress sperm.

Many studies have confirmed the link between damaged sperm, lower sperm count and alcohol, making it imperative that a man who is attempting to conceive cut out alcohol entirely during this time. One study in particular which was performed on male rats, showed that the rats who were given enough alcohol to render them intoxicated within 24 hours prior to mating had a conception rate of 50% less. This study has led researchers to believe that even occasional intoxication can, at least temporarily, reduce sperm count-and that frequent intoxication can leave a man with a permanent reduction in sperm count and motility. Not only does alcohol decrease the sperm count and movement of the sperm, it can drastically alter the normal shape and size of sperm, leaving some of them without tails. Serious alcoholics may never be able to have a child simply due to the

Recreational Drugs and Male Infertility

Narcotics such as heroin, amphetamines, cocaine and PCP have not only been linked with libido decreases, but may also diminish testosterone levels. Both testosterone and LH hormones are necessary to ensure the male reproductive system properly does its job, and the sperm develop correctly and healthily. In particular, cocaine has been shown to have a significant impact on a man's fertility, and can also contribute to birth defects in a baby. Regular male users of cocaine have lower sperm counts, and a significant increase in the amount of abnormal sperm.

Marijuana Use as a Cause of Male Infertility

Low sperm count has been linked with frequent marijuana use, and, like those who use cocaine, the sperm which is produced can have serious abnormalities, such as difficulty swimming and penetrating the egg. Men who habitually use marijuana will likely have lower testosterone levels-a necessary hormone in the production of sperm.

Other Causes of Male Infertility

Smoking tobacco can also reduce a man's sperm count, and can significantly decrease the quality of a woman's eggs. In fact, smoking and the toxins which come with it, can cause as much as a 23% decrease in sperm density, and a 13% decrease in motility. Some researchers believe that caffeine can affect sperm count almost to the same degree that alcohol can, so if you are having trouble with a low sperm count, coffee may need to be off your daily list for a while at least. Anabolic steroid use is becoming widespread, and by the 12th grade, over 6% of males have used them to build muscle mass. Beyond other health problems steroid use can bring, they also severely diminish sperm. If you typically-or frequently-engage in drinking or the use of illegal drugs, you should stop these vices when you are attempting to conceive a child. Even if you do stop immediately, it can take up to three months for your body to produce healthy sperm and to undo the damage done to your reproductive system.

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