How medications can affect man’s fertility

By Abayomi Ajayi

It is no longer news that good health is essential for fertility and pregnancy. In every infertile couple, the possibility of male infertility and how much sperm quality affects the chances of conceiving should not be overlooked. The healthier you are, the healthier your sperm will be.

A number of things can affect your sperm and your fertility, such as being overweight or underweight, smoking cigarettes, excessive drinking, and use of recreational drugs. You should also be aware that some medications can interfere with sperm fertility.

Medications can affect your fertility as a man in different ways. However, most of the medications that affect sperm generally decrease production, causing a low sperm count. Some other drugs can affect the way sperm functions.

By Abayomi Ajayi

Having a low sperm count means that your partner will have fewer sperm available to fertilise an egg, and if the sperm’s motility (its ability to move) is reduced, the sperm will have a difficult time reaching and penetrating the egg. How long a particular medication affects your sperm varies depending on the medicine. Ideally, you shouldn’t expect any changes to occur until at least two to three months after you have discontinued the medication. It takes sperm a while to form and fully mature.

If, for instance, within the past 90 days, you used recreational drugs, this will have a marked effect on your sperm (or the baby that you make) today. Also, what you do today will show up in your sperm over the next two to three months. With some medications, it can take much longer for sperm counts to increase. Testosterone supplements, for example, can have a lingering effect, taking many months or even years before sperm production resumes. In some cases, it doesn’t return at all.

Fortunately, if taken in the proper dose and used as intended, most common Over-The-Counter (OTC) medications shouldn’t reduce sperm count. Since there are many different OTC medications and remedies that are untested, it’s best to play it safe. If you’re trying to become pregnant, discuss any OTC meds with your doctor first, and be especially cautious with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), natural or herbal remedies, prescription medications, steroids/testosterone therapy, chemotherapy drugs, and blood pressure medications.

Others are opioids, antidepressants, antibiotics, and biologics, but just because you use one (or more) of these meds, doesn’t mean you can’t become a parent. It’s a good idea to have a sit-down with your doctor and discuss every medication you take and how it might affect your reproduction. In most cases, if a drug does affect sperm quantity or quality, you can switch to another medication that has less impact on fertility.

Certainly, some medications are necessary to treat certain conditions, but close consultation with your doctor is paramount when it comes to the medications you take and your fertility. In some cases, there may be alternatives that are just as effective as prescriptions and OTC medications.

Once a medication is stopped, it takes some time for your body to recover, though the exact span varies from drug to drug. Sincerely, most OTCs don’t interfere with fertility, but it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor first and be cautious when it comes to the following categories: hormones, analgesics and some vitamins.

The concern with herbal remedies is that there’s little to no data or regulation of content. So-called ‘natural’ herbs sometimes contain substances that can act like hormones (estrogens or progestins).

In some cases, like asthma, prescriptions are usually unavoidable. But some conditions may have equally effective alternative approaches that can work well during the conception stage. Most physicians would prefer that you are on as few medications as possible when trying to conceive. It’s a good idea to sit with your doctor to discuss the safety of each drug and attempt to either switch to safer ones or try non-pharmaceutical approaches.

Your lifestyle modifications are also important. For instance, losing weight, being physically active, limiting salt intake, and making other changes may help get your blood pressure under control so that you no longer need medication. Don’t stop taking a medication without doctor’s approval.

Even if you’re taking chemotherapy drugs, it doesn’t automatically mean your conception dreams are over. One way out is to bank-freeze your sperm beforehand.

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