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Drugs That May Affect Fertility

If you and your partner are finding it difficult to conceive, then you're probably wondering whether or not you're suffering from an underlying fertility problem. Infertility can be caused by a number of factors, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), endometriosis, diet, exercise and age, among other environmental and occupational hazards. Sometimes, infertility can be the result of reproductive issues caused by the use of recreational and prescription drugs. According to experts, drug use plays a roll in a large percentage of unexplained fertility cases. Below is a comprehensive list of drugs, both recreational and prescription, with explanations as to how they may affect your fertility.


The use of steroids, including anabolic steroids (used by athletes to increase endurance) and corticosteroids such as cortisone and prednisone (used to treat conditions such as asthma and lupus) are derived from the male hormone testosterone and can have a permanent negative affect on both the male and female reproductive systems. In high doses, steroid use in men can lead to decreased sperm production, increased numbers of abnormal sperm, erectile dysfunction and atrophy (wasting away) of the testicles. In women, steroids may inhibit the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which are needed for ovulation and disrupt menstruation.

Prescription Medicines

Certain prescription medications can also negatively affect fertility in both sexes, which is why it is important that you talk to your doctor about the possible side effects that your medications may have on your fertility, especially if you and your partner are trying to conceive.

Antidepressants have previously been shown to affect the reproductive system as a result of common side effects such as loss of libido, lowered sperm count, erectile dysfunction and menstrual irregularities. Most modern antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs), however, have not been shown to have any negative effects on ovulation or fertility. Comparably, some older blood pressure control medicines, such as Largactil and Aldomet, have been shown to raise prolactin levels in women and disrupt ovulation. In too high or too low doses, thyroid medication, tranquilizers and similar drugs prescribed to prevent seizures can also affect prolactin levels in this way. It is also best to avoid skin products that contain estrogen or progesterone, hormones which can negatively affect ovulation when absorbed in large quantities.

In men, a medication known as Salazopyrin used to treat colitis can reduce sperm count, and beta-blockers (blood pressure medications) can lead to impotence. Unfortunately, not much more is known about the effects of prescription medications on male fertility.


It is safe to assume that most men and women are familiar with the hazards of using tobacco during pregnancy, but few people recognize that tobacco has the potential to affect your chances of conceiving as well. The truth is, smoking and chewing tobacco have been related to numerous fertility problems in both men and women. In men, tobacco use can lead to low sperm counts and poor sperm motility, which may drastically reduce a couple's chances of conceiving. Additionally, women who smoke run the risk of suffering from reduced ovarian reserve and chromosomal abnormalities, which may lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.

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