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. 

The Effects of Opiates on Sperm and Male Fertility

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:

  • Damaged sperm cell DNA
  • Low sperm motility
  • Low sperm count
  • Hormone changes like low testosterone
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Low sex drive1,2,3

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.


To get more information on our various programs or to speak with an admissions counselor, call us today at 888-280-4763. At Banyan Pompano, we are here to help.

Sources:

  1. NCBI – Regulation of Male Fertility by the Opioid System
  2. NCBI – The effects of opiate consumption on serum reproductive hormone levels, sperm parameters, seminal plasma antioxidant capacity and sperm DNA integrity.
  3. NCBI – Opioid induced hypogonadism
  4. NCBI – Male hypogonadism: Symptoms and treatment
Alyssa
Alyssa
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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