When discussing the opioid epidemic, the media often focuses on the rising number of overdose deaths from these drugs as well as the different means of treatment or prevention. As a PHP rehab, we have seen the damaging effects of these drugs firsthand and know that overdose is not the only matter to be concerned about. This drug abuse can cause severe and lasting damage to the body including the harmful opiate effects on sperm.
Long-term abuse of opiates can cause harm to the reproductive system in men. In particular, opiates can affect sperm, the male reproductive cell, in ways that could make conception more difficult.
With long-term abuse, opiates can affect sperm and male fertility including:
One study found that there was a significant amount of fragmented DNA in the sperm cells of opioid addicted men than normal.2 Combined with a lower amount of sperm that has trouble moving on its own, this can make conceiving a child more difficult.
It isn’t just the sperm either, opiates can affect the male reproductive system in other ways as well. The amount of testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, decreases by more than 50% within just a few hours of taking an opioid and will not return to normal levels until 24 to 72 hours has passed.3 With continued opioid abuse, these decreased testosterone level may become the norm.
Both low sperm count, and decreased testosterone production may be that result of hypogonadism, the failure of the testes to produce enough of these substances. It is estimated that the prevalence of opioid induced hypogonadism could be anywhere from 21% to 86%.3 More studies need to be done to find a more definitive number, but it is clearly a problem. Hypogonadism is often associated with infertility, muscle wasting, anemia, and reduced bone mass.4
While you should take medications as directed by a doctor, you should also be aware of the connection between opiates and male fertility when these substances are abused. If you or someone you care about is abusing these drugs, get opiate addiction treatment before the damage is done. Abuse, especially long-term abuse of these drugs, can cause far more problems than just fertility and could be permanent if you wait too long to get help.
Our Pompano substance abuse treatment center helps people and their loved ones move past substance abuse problems. Do not wait any longer to get the help you or your loved one deserves.