| Drugs and fertility
- Many drugs are contra-indicated in pregnancy and it is important to identify these and adopt alternative treatment before falling pregnant. By ensuring good health prior to pregnancy many unnecessary drugs can be avoided during pregnancy.
- Recreational drugs such as alcohol, cigarettes, coffee, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and speed all have documented effects on fertility and pregnancy.
- The frequency and quantity of the drug use will influence the seriousness of the impact on the sperm, eggs or foetus. For example regular marijuana use is associated with poor ovum development, seen in long cycles; coffee consumption (more than 3 cups a day) is linked with miscarriage.
- Limit your alcohol intake when you are trying to improve your fertility.
- A recent research paper published in the British medical Journal reports that the probability of conceiving decreased with increasing alcohol consumption, even among women who were drinking fewer than 5 drinks a week.
- Moderate intake disrupts calcium, zinc vitamin C, chromium and magnesium by increasing urinary excretion, and reduces B vitamin absorption. Alcohol is associated with increased risk of foetal death and causes chromosomal abnormalities that may contribute to infertility. There is no safe threshold for alcohol consumption below which the development of the foetus is not affected.
- Alcohol interferes with the secretion of testosterone, speeds up the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, lowering sperm count and sex drive. The breakdown product of alcohol in the body is acetaldehyde, which is toxic to sperm. Too much alcohol may reduce zinc levels decreasing sperm quality.
- Alcohol can interfere with the function of the male reproductive system, and can lead to tissue shrinkage, reduced testosterone production, and sperm abnormalities, in the testes. Alcohol may interfere with normal sperm structure and movement by inhibiting the metabolism of Vitamin A, which is essential for sperm development.
- Even light drinking (one to three drinks a month) had a 32% reduction in the concentration of spermatozoa, and in those who drank four to five times a week there was a 56% reduction.
- Erections of the male may be considerably diminished after alcohol use. Even a single drink can have a negative effect on sexual pleasure.
- Smoking has harmful effects on male and female fertility. Studies show that smoking can reduce the number of sperm in ejaculate and can cause DNA damage to developing sperm cells. Smoking induced sperm DNA damage can be transmitted to the embryo and subsequent offspring.
- Altered sperm DNA from smoking fathers was also associated with an increased risk of childhood cancers.
- In women one study showed that smokers were three to four times more likely to take longer than a year to conceive than non smokers.
- The chemical components of cigarettes have been isolated in the fluid surrounding developing oocyctes (eggs) and smoking has been shown to cause DNA damage during oocycte cell division.
- However unlike sperm, eggs have the capacity to repair DNA damage before fertilisation occurs.
- Smokers have seriously compromised nutritional status, low vitamin C, zinc and high copper.
- Male smokers have lower levels of testosterone, lower sperm numbers and more deformed sperm.
- There are over 30 compounds in cigarettes are recognised as mutagenic.
- Cadmium a heavy metal in cigarette smoke which displaces trace minerals essential to health such as zinc.
- Hyperactivity of children of smokers is three times more common.
- Passive smoking will also have a deleterious effect almost as high as if the mother smoked.
- May cause chromosomal damage.
- Marijuana affects sperm parameters, reducing sperm count and increasing abnormal forms, chromosomal damage is also increased.
- Animal studies have shown that moderate marijuana use stops ovulation by having a toxic effect on the developing egg.
- A study exploring marijuana usage and time taken to conceive found that women who smoked marijuana had a slightly elevated risk of infertility due to ovulation problems.
- A chemical ingredient in Marijuana is very closely related to testosterone, therefore the body will produce less of the male hormone. It builds up in the testes lowering libido, causing impotence, and sometimes sexual anxiety.
- The most recent research shows that sperms have THC (the active chemical in marijuana) receptors on their heads.
- Normally the event of ovulation triggers the release of a natural THC to be released with tells the sperm to swim fast and hard towards the egg.
- When sperm in the male body are exposed to THC from the drug they swim and exhaust themselves before they even get out of the man’s body. It is unknown what concentrations or frequency of use may contribute to a reduction in fertility
- Caffeine has harmful effects on all aspects of reproductive health.
- May impair sperm production.
- It adversely effects the way sperm swim forward (motility).
- It is linked with chromosomal damage.
- Caffeine inhibits absorption of nutrients when taken with meals and increases excretion of minerals and vitamins through urination.
- Consumption of 3 or more cups a day by women is linked with miscarriage.
- Caffeine has a distruptive effect on the brain development of the foetus in utero, causing more tangles in the connections between brain cells
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