Is there a link between substance abuse and fertility?

Ruben Lopez is a freelance writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for addiction treatment

He writes for The Recovery Village, and he is committed to helping those who are in recovery.

If substance abuse weren’t bad enough already, there is substantial evidence that both drugs and alcohol have the potential to affect fertility and cause other reproductive issues. Both men and women can be impacted. Therefore, it is critical for both genders to realize the impacts on their ability to reproduce, and overall health. In this post, you will be able to see the connections between substance abuse and fertility.

We will begin our search by looking at the effects of drug abuse on women’s reproduction

Several drugs responsible for causing reduced fertility include marijuana, cocaine, and opiates. A study conducted by the Journal of Epidemiology concluded that women taking Marijuana were more likely to be infertile, due to a lack of ovulation. Another recreational drug shown to negatively impact the chances of reproduction is cocaine. Similar to Marijuana, cocaine may disrupt ovulation, while also having the potential to hinder ovarian function. Not only that, but if the baby is born they are significantly more likely to have birth defects, low birth weight, and anxiety. Opiates have been shown to cause fertility problems in women, the most notable of which is hypogonadism, which essentially means that the gonads are no longer functioning properly.

Next, we will examine how alcohol impacts female reproduction

Drinking alcohol can have adverse side effects both if you are trying to get pregnant, or during the pregnancy. The NIAAA or National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, reports that no amount of drinking is safe during a pregnancy. According to Alcohol Research and Health, alcohol use can lead to a wide array of different medical problems during and after birth. First of all, the research suggested that alcohol use leads to a higher rate of both miscarriages and stillbirths. Additionally, the study concluded that alcohol is linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or (SIDS). This study concluded that infants who died due to SIDS were three times as likely to have had a mother who was a binge drinker. On top of that, mounting evidence suggests that women who consume large amounts of alcohol while trying to conceive a baby are significantly less likely to become pregnant.

We will now focus on how illicit drugs impact male fertility. Although men are not involved in the process of carrying or delivering a baby, there is evidence that suggests they play a crucial role in fertility, conception, and health of the baby. Drugs mainly impact the sperm of men, leading to potential reproductive issues. For example, the University of Sheffield conducted a study and found that men aged 30 and younger who had smoked marijuana at any point over the past 90 days were over two times more likely to have defects and abnormalities in their sperm. Other recreational drugs such as Heroin and Cocaine were shown to have even worse effects. According to a study by Clinical Endocrinology, these two drugs had the potential to not only damage sperm but lead to sexual dysfunction.

This next section will dive into the effects of alcohol abuse on the male reproductive system

Cynthia Daniels of Rutgers University looked extensively into the impacts of alcohol on male reproduction. She concluded that men who drink excessive amounts of alcohol produce much higher rates of sperm with defects. She also believes that these abnormal sperm could be a cause of birth defects. Multiple studies have also concluded that excessive alcohol intake has a negative impact on male fertility. The impacts include abnormalities in reproductive hormones and semen. Lastly, alcohol has been demonstrated to decrease the motility of the sperm, or their ability to move and swim in the area that they are located.

What does this mean?

All of this research suggests that substance abuse by either men or women can impact your chances of conceiving a child, as well as present consequences for the health of the child if they are born.

Overall, these are just some of the risks involved with substance abuse and fertility

It is your obligation as a potential parent to do all that is in your power to produce the healthiest child possible. Take these findings into consideration if you are planning on having a child or are concerned about your ability to reproduce.

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