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How Prescription Drugs and Medications Affect Male Fertility

Various types of prescription drugs – including medications such as antidepressants – can harm male fertility levels. This summary of the possible effects of medications on male fertility includes several tips for improving sperm health…

“Everyone knows taking anabolic steroids and other recreational drugs will negatively impact health, but there is rarely a discussion of how male fertility can be affected,” says Dr. Laurence A. Jacobs of the Fertility Centers of Illinois. “To achieve optimum fertility, men should refrain from drug and substance abuse and also be informed of the possible side effects of everyday prescription medications.”

Here, Dr Jacobs describes how drugs can harm male fertility, and offers quick tips for preserving healthy sperm. For more information about male fertility, read The Testosterone Factor: A Practical Guide to Improving Vitality and Virility, Naturally.

The drug scandal surrounding some of baseball’s greats including Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Alexander Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and more – has sparked discussions about the short and long term effects these drugs will have on their overall health. What has not been addressed and is often not known is how much these illegal drugs, as well as everyday prescriptions such as Paxil, can damage male fertility.

How Prescription Drugs and Medications Affect Male Fertility

Certain drugs can cause impotence, erectile dysfunction, ejaculation difficulty, low sperm count and function, changed hormone patterns, low libido, disruption of the pituitary gland and its stimulation of the testicles, baldness, toxic effects on the testes and decreased overall fertility.

The good news is that these effects can often begin to reverse immediately once drug use has stopped. However, since it could take up to 12 months for sperm count and function to return to normal after abusing Anabolic Steroids, Dr Jacobs advises men to be aware of how their choices can affect their chances of conceiving a baby.

Medications that can harm male fertility include:

  • Anabolic Steroids
  • Paroxetine (trade names Seroxat and Paxil)
  • Antibiotics containing Nitrofurans and Macrolides
  • Sulfasalazine, found in anti-diarrheal medication
  • Ketoconazole, found in anti-fungal medication
  • Labetalol (trade names Trandate and Normodyne)
  • Marijuana
  • Nicotine

Quick Tips for Male Fertility

  • Keep the laptop off your lap
  • Restrain from lengthy bike rides
  • Limit use of saunas, hot tubs and hot showers
  • Stay cool – the optimal temperature for the scrotum is 95 degrees F, whereas normal body temperature is around 98 degrees F
  • Avoid smoking – nicotine can damage sperm DNA and cause birth defects
  • Limit alcohol intake as excessive drinking may cause impotence

For more information on healthy sperm production, read 7 Tips for Improving Male Fertility Levels.

You may also be interested in 5 Foods That Increase Sperm Count, Production, and Motility.

If you have any thoughts about how prescription medications and lifestyle can harm male infertility, please comment below…

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Fertility Centers of Illinois, S.C., is one of the nation’s leading infertility treatment practices, providing advanced reproductive endocrinology services in the Chicago area for more than 30 years.

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7 thoughts on “How Prescription Drugs and Medications Affect Male Fertility”

  1. I took TEGRETOL & TRANXENE for many years & DILANTIN & BEUTOSOL for many years… total years on anti-convulsants is 42.
    My fertility was checked while still on TEGRETOL & TRANXENE and I was told that I am MORE FERTILE THAN 85% OF THE male population. Am I more fertile now because I am not on medication anymore? My current age is 58 years.

  2. There is no specific answer — some men’s sperm production goes back to “normal” and healthy soon after taking prescription medication, while others take longer. It depends on how long the meds were taken, genetics, lifestyle, and even environment.

  3. Does anyone know how long it takes for sperm count etc. to return to normal after stopping the anti-depressant “Paxil” ? My boyfriend has been on 20 mg a day for 4 years and has been off it for a month now. Thanks.

  4. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Megan,

    I have no idea if the depression medications affected your boyfriend’s sperm production, count, motility, or quality. The only way to find out is to get a sperm test. The at-home ones may be fine….but a sperm test from a medical lab might be the best way to go, so the doctor can explain the results to your boyfriend.

    When my hubby has to go for a sperm test, I go with him and help him out. If your boyfriend is reluctant to get his sperm checked, perhaps you could offer your services…it does make things easier!

    Good luck, and I hope his sperm is fine…


  5. my boyfriend took depression meds for 2 yrs and a high dose. will that affect his sperm count and motility? he is 28 yrs old and has been off them for about 1year now. thanks

  6. The book Testosterone Factor is an interesting read. Thanks for the heads up! The safest bet is to consult with a licensed physician such as an urologist to answer questions about male fertility or infertility. Also, when you buy drugs, make sure you buy from FDA-approved online pharmacies.