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Drugs That May Affect Fertility

Alcohol

Although you may not know it, heavy consumption of alcohol has a staggering effect on both male and female infertility. Drinking more than six alcoholic beverages per day increases the risk of hormonal imbalances, which can affect both ovulation and sperm production. Women who drink heavily commonly suffer from luteal phase defects, anovulation and amenorrhea. In addition, men who consume large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis can potentially suffer from low sperm count, poor sperm motility and poor sperm morphology.

Unfortunately, the effects of light to moderate drinking are less understood. In men, it appears that moderate drinking can kill off some sperm-producing cells in the testicles, which may contribute to poor sperm morphology. Additionally, some studies have shown that women who consume alcohol on occasion may experience some hormonal imbalances.

Recreational Drugs

Marijuana, one of the most widely used recreational drugs, has long been thought to play a role in both male and female infertility. It is only in the past few years, however, that research has become available to support this theory. A 2003 study found that regular marijuana smoking can have serious effects on male fertility, including low sperm count and poor sperm motility. According to experts, sperm that are able to enter the vaginal canal tend to be over-stimulated by the active ingredient in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), causing them to slow down as they approach the egg, making them unable to penetrate the egg's outer layer. In addition, women who smoke marijuana regularly are shown to have small amounts of THC in their vaginal fluid and reproductive organs, further over-stimulating the sperm that manage to make it that far.

Other recreational drugs, also called street drugs, such as heroine, cocaine and ecstasy, have all been shown to have startling effects on fertility in both men and women. Long-term use can lead to permanent reproductive problems. Men who regularly use drugs such as these often suffer from reduced libido, poor sperm count and abnormal sperm structure. Women who use these drugs, on the other hand, may suffer from ovulatory dysfunction, menstrual irregularities and reduced ovarian reserve.

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