Do recreational drugs affect male fertility?
Generally, yes. And not in a good way.
Most recreational drugs are bad for male fertility. They’re also bad for female fertility too; and for unborn babies.
A scientific article was just published on this topic and that’s where most of the information we have, is from.
Alcohol seems to have bad effects on male fertility if you drink more than one standard drink per day. One drink a day is within the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol but it’s probably too much if you’re trying to have a baby.
Caffeine doesn’t seem to affect male fertility, but it depends on how you get your caffeine. Drinking coffee and tea doesn’t have an effect but if you get your caffeine from soft drinks or energy drinks then there can be bad effects on the quality of your sperm. It’s probably the sugar in these drinks that is causing the problems with sperm because high sugar intake is associated with lower quality sperm and longer times taken to get partners pregnant.
Smoking and vaping both have bad effects on sperm.
When it comes to illegal drugs, evidence about their effects on fertility is hard to get.
- Marijuana doesn’t seem to have very bad effects on sperm, but one study found that the risk of miscarriage was higher for pregnancies from men who used marijuana more than once a week.
- Opioids like heroin, oxycodone and methadone cause low testosterone levels, low sperm quality and problems with sexual function that stay around even after you stop using.
- Cocaine use is bad for sperm, lowers testosterone levels and may lower libido (sex drive) and cause erectile dysfunction and ejaculation problems.
- Amphetamines and ecstasy cause low testosterone levels and sperm damage in rat experiments. Whether these results are relevant to humans is not known but without good evidence from studies in people, it’s reasonable to suspect that these drugs would cause problems with male fertility.
It’s worth mentioning, since the article that looks at recreational drugs and male fertility also looks at food, that diets high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy and seafood, and low in red and processed meats and sugar, are good for sperm quality.