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Drugs, Alcohol, and Fertility

Question

Can drugs or alcohol affect my -- or my husband's -- fertility?

Answer

While illicit drugs and alcohol can seriously affect the health of a pregnancy, they are less likely to affect a woman's fertility. However, studies have shown that drugs and alcohol can affect male fertility.

In males, both the testes and the liver are directly affected by ethanol, a component of most alcoholic beverages. Because of ethanol's effects, testicular atrophy (tissue degradation) and testicular fibrosis (scarring) is commonly found in chronic alcoholics. Testosterone levels are often decreased in these men as well, with the result that men who drink heavily may not be able to get or maintain an erection. However, several studies have found no correlation between sperm count or motility and the level of alcohol consumption in groups of infertile men.

Numerous studies have also shown that marijuana use can decrease a man's sperm count. The bottom line is, if you're trying to conceive, you'll increase the probability of success if your partner avoids alcohol and marijuana.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.