A man and woman embracing in front of a railing

Understanding Medications that Affect Sperm

Certain drugs can affect sperm quality and contribute to male infertility. If you and your spouse or partner are trying to get pregnant, be sure to talk with your doctor about potential side effects. They can help you determine if your current medications might interfere with your plans and make adjustments to increase your chances of becoming pregnant. 

Medication is a known source of problems with sperm count or quality, which could prevent pregnancy. If you are trying to conceive, it’s just as crucial to pay attention to the man’s health as well as the woman’s. A physical condition could cause the sperm to be less effective, lowering the chance of conceiving. If a man is healthy, his sperm is normally healthy, too, but a man’s fertility can be influenced by many factors, such as being overweight or underweight, using tobacco, drinking in excess, or using recreational drugs. Another factor you may not be aware of is that some medications can affect sperm and interfere with his fertility.

a worried couple holding a pregnancy test

Medicine can affect male fertility by reducing sperm production, lowering the overall sperm count. Low numbers of sperm correlate with less sperm being able to fertilize an egg. Some drugs can affect the quality of sperm function. If the motility of the sperm is reduced, there is a lower chance of reaching the egg.

Which Drugs Might Affect Sperm Quality?

There are several kinds of medications that affect sperm quality. Here are a few of the biggest culprits that can prevent pregnancy.

  • Testosterone supplements are frequently taken to enhance sex drive or build muscle mass and strength. However, testosterone therapy can negatively impact sperm production, so men should discontinue using them for several months before trying to conceive a child.
  • Anabolic steroids are typically used to decrease body fat and increase muscle mass. These drugs are popular among competitive athletes and fitness enthusiasts. But much like testosterone supplements, these drugs interfere with the hormones required to produce sperm. Therefore, if conceiving a child is a priority, discontinuing steroid use up to a year in advance is best.
  • While light or moderate alcohol consumption does not impact male fertility, consuming more than 10-14 alcoholic beverages per week does. This level of alcohol intake can decrease natural testosterone production and increase a man’s estrogen levels, reducing sperm production.
  • Tobacco use causes serious health conditions to both the user and household members. If that isn’t reason enough to kick the habit, you should know that it’s one of the drugs known for affecting sperm quality. Research has shown that smoking harms sperm production and motility.
  • If you use medical marijuana, you should speak with your doctor, as this medication may affect sperm quality depending on the dosage and frequency of use. Couples trying to become pregnant should speak with their healthcare provider about alternatives.
  • Narcotics include both doctor-prescribed drugs used to treat pain and substance use disorders as well as some drugs purchased without a prescription. While short-term use of narcotics and opiates does not affect male fertility, long-term use can negatively impact testosterone production. Men in active substance use recovery should speak with their counselor and healthcare provider about treatment alternatives.

Screening Process for Sperm and Egg Donation

For couples wanting to become pregnant, sperm and egg donation are viable options to start the family of your dreams! When searching for a reputable organization that provides these services, be sure to look for one that expressly tests prospective donors for drugs that affect sperm quality. Family Creations has over 15 years of experience matching comprehensively screened egg donors with recipients.

If you’re considering a donor egg to conceive your child, get in touch with Family Creations. Register today to review our donor profiles.

by Julia McConnell | Last updated on : July 6, 2023