Not only are the physical changes noticeable on the outside, but the inner workings of the body often take a hit as well. Because the effects of drug abuse on infertility may not be as well known, we wanted to share some information that might clear the air.
Although drug abuse can result in some noticeable changes in physical appearance, like skin discoloration or hair thinning, drug use and infertility sometimes go hand in hand as well. Some prescription medications may have side effects that impact the reproductive system, but doctors will usually closely monitor their use to avoid such problems. On the other hand, recreational drug use affects fertility in various ways that may become severe over time.
The long-term effects of drug abuse on the reproductive system may include:
The relationship between drug use and reproduction will vary depending on the specific substance. Some of the more commonly used drugs that affect infertility in both men and women are marijuana, cocaine, anabolic steroids, and opiates.
Marijuana is considered the most commonly used drug in the world, with over 19.8 million users in the U.S. alone.1 It has often been linked to infertility in men due to its effects on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS releases hormones called endocannabinoids, which protect the body and ensure that reproduction runs smoothly. If unchecked, cannabinoids from marijuana can hinder normal sperm production and negatively impact the semen. Continued exposure may also lead to erectile function and a decreased sex drive.1
In women, marijuana can prevent regular ovulation, interrupt the menstrual cycle, and disrupt estrogen production. Just like with men, this is a result of the cannabinoids in marijuana interacting with the endocannabinoid system.2 While this does not necessarily mean they cannot have children, women who experience these irregularities are at a higher risk of infertility.
Like marijuana, cocaine is one of the drugs that can cause infertility. It has been found to interfere with sperm production and hormone production including testosterone production.3 It can also cause infertility in women by affecting their hormones, ovulation cycles, menstrual cycles, and their fallopian tubes.4 Typically, the longer someone abuses cocaine, the worse these problems will be, so going to a cocaine detox center at the first signs of addiction could help you avoid these problems.
Anabolic steroids are used to help people build muscle and decrease fat. While they may be great for getting a toned look, they can also negatively impact fertility, especially in men. Steroids disrupt the release of hormones that are needed to produce sperm and testosterone. Long-term use may lead to serious problems, but these can often be reversed if their use stops.5
Opiates, both prescribed medications and illegal substances, can also cause infertility. While some of these drugs may be prescribed by doctors to treat certain reproductive issues, abuse of these substances can lead to problems instead. Opiate abuse can lead to erectile dysfunction, decreased sex drive, and testosterone deficiency.5 If the abuse continues and the user neglects to go to an opiate detox program to get clean, it could eventually lead to infertility.
Because there is such a strong connection between drug use and infertility, it is important to get help before it is too late. In addition to infertility, long term drug abuse can be damaging to many of the body’s functions as well as mental health. At Banyan Treatment Centers Boca, we provide patients with the help and support they need to start building a foundation for a healthier life.