Could common prescription medications be the reason why your sperm is so messed up?
Medications may not be the only reason why your semen analysis is giving you grief but it may be time to talk to your doctor about how the medications you are using may be affecting your chances.
*IMPORTANT NOTE – Don’t be a dummy and simply stop taking your meds just because you think they may be affecting your ability to get pregnant. Be smart and talk to your doctor before you add or take away any medications!
Okay…now that you know not to be a dummy, enjoy the article!
A variety of factors can play a role in male infertility, reducing sperm production and quality. Many of these factors are actions and habits you partake in during your daily routines and activities.
These habits and activities can include things like:
- Overexposure to cell phone radiation
- Chronic stress
- Alcohol abuse
Not only are there many different elements that can impact your sperm quality in a negative fashion, there are also various ways in which these factors adversely affect your sperm.
The main ways that male fertility is typically compromised by outside influences are:
- A decrease in sex drive or libido
- Inadequate amount of stimulation of the testes by pituitary produced hormones like Luteinizing Hormone (LH), and Follicle-Stimulation Hormone (FSH)
- Sperm is blocked from effectively fertilizing a mature egg
- Noxious or harmful effects, impacting the testes directly
- Erectile dysfunction and ejaculation issues
One such aspect of your everyday lifestyle that may be having a negative impact on your sperm quality, is the medications you are taking.
How Can Meds Hurt My Sperm?
Certain medications you take on a regular basis may be having an unfavourable impact on your sperm health. These medications can include over the counter meds, as well as those prescribed by a doctor.
Here are some potential outcomes of medications on male fertility.
Decreased Sex Drive
An example of a more indirect way taking medication can affect your fertility is a lowered libido. A low sex drive will obviously reduce chances of pregnancy just based on the laws of probability. The more attempts made, the greater chance of success.
You may have heard that anxiety and depression can lead to a reduction in libido. Well, the medications used to treat anxiety and depression can also have a detrimental influence on sex drive.
For example, a lot of anti-depression meds are aimed at enhancing mood by increasing serotonin production. This can have a negative effect on libido for some people.
Some other medications that may reduce sex drive include:
- Hair loss medications
- Meds to treat enlarged prostate
- Allergy meds
- Pain killers
- Blood pressure medications
Never stop taking a medication without first consulting with a doctor or health care professional.
Affects the Pituitary Gland
The male reproductive system is entirely dependant on the hormones that regulate it. These hormones are responsible for stimulating and regulating the activity of the reproductive organs and cells.
The two main hormones involved in the regulation of sperm production are:
- Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
These hormones are both produced in the pituitary gland, and are responsible for sperm and testosterone production. They are also known as gonadotrophin hormones.
FSH is required for stimulating spermatogenesis (the process of sperm production). LH sparks the production of testosterone, which is needed to continue and develop spermatogenesis.
Medications can sometimes disturb the connected network between the pituitary gland and the testes. This disruption may lead to insufficient stimulation to the testes, and a result, lower sperm production.
An example of a type of medication that can have this type of unfavorable effect on the production of FSH and LH is anabolic steroids, or other performance enhancing drugs.
Directly Affects Sperm Quality
Some medications may have a direct impact on sperm quality and activity.
For example, medications called Calcium Channel Blockers are used to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure. These calcium channel blockers can negatively affect male fertility by:
- Decreasing sperm motility
- Reducing sperm density
- Reducing egg penetration
- Diminishing capacitation
Some blood pressure medication can lessen sperm’s ability to move effectively (motility), while also cutting down sperm concentration (sperm density). Less viable sperm available to get the job done, will in turn reduce the chances of successful conception.
Less effective sperm, also means greater difficulty in penetrating the egg. This increased difficulty can be influenced by diminished capacitation.
Capacitation refers to the process where a sperm goes through a complicated series of changes in order to more effectively penetrate the egg.
Medications like calcium channel blockers can disrupt this process.
Toxic Environment for Sperm
There are also medications that can have direct toxic effects on your sperm. Meds that have a direct impact on sperm, typically cause damage to cells responsible for sperm production.
Effects of this nature can result in anything from sperm count reduction, to a complete absence of sperm in the ejaculate. This type of damage can be temporary or permanent, depending on the length of use of the medication, and the severity of the results.
Some medications that can have toxic effects directly on sperm are:
- Calcium channel blockers
- Alpha-adrenergic blockers – commonly used to treat urinary tract infections
There are several prescription drugs, as well as over the counter medications, that can result in difficult achieving and maintaining an erection.
If you are attempting to get pregnant the old-fashioned way, then the ability to get an erection is absolutely crucial to your conception success.
However, there are all kinds of medications used in daily life that can impede that goal. Some examples are:
- Heart disease and blood pressure medications
- Anti-anxiety, antiepileptic, and anti-depression meds
- Allergy meds
- Prostate meds
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Muscle relaxants
Ibuprofen and Other OTC Medications
Research has shown that regular use of certain over the counter medications like aspirin, paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen), and ibuprofen (an anti-inflammatory) can have negative consequences on your sperm production.
A recent study in Europe was done on two groups of men under the age of 35. One group of men were administered 1200 milligrams of ibuprofen every day for 6 weeks. Another group was given a placebo in its place.
The men in the group that was taking the ibuprofen, showed a noticeable drop in testosterone production in only two weeks. Male testosterone deficiency is also known as hypogonadism.
Taking ibuprofen on a consistent basis was shown to disrupt the male hormonal balance, making the body work harder to regulate testosterone levels.
Ask Your Doctor!
As you can see, there are a multitude of medications that can have adverse effects on sperm quality and production.
The best way to see if you sperm is affected is to get a semen analysis. You could also consider some of the home tests available on the market, check out our review of some of the most popular ones on our Top 5 Home Sperm Tests review article!
Remember, if you are struggling with infertility, it is highly recommended not to abruptly alter your medication intake without consulting with your physician or health care professional.