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Can certain medications reduce fertility?

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Motherhood is an incredible experience and every woman is keen on becoming a mother and experience, the joy of carrying a life within. Some women have problems becoming a mother which may be a result of various reasons affecting her or her partner. Infertility is when a woman is unable to bear a baby after 1 year of unprotected sex. There are various conditions that may cause infertility. A normal understanding of infertility is that it is thought to be only because of issues with reproductive, genetic, morphological, anatomical, or general health conditions. Little is known that a greater part of it is impacted by medications and it might be one of the main causes of infertility. For a woman, irregular menstrual cycle, age, impaired ovarian function, blocked fallopian tubes, or problems in the uterus are responsible for one not getting pregnant. For a man, infertility is primarily because of the quality and quantity of the sperms and hormonal problems may be the cause of infertility. Both men and women are affected by certain medications, while some drugs affect only women or only men. The medications that cause infertility could also be prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs. When a couple is planning a family, it’s essential to watch out for the kind of medicines and drugs that they take because it might have an adverse effect on their fertility.

 Fertility can be affected by medications in many ways.

Medicines can alter a woman’s ovulation and endometrial or uterine receptivity to pregnancy. Medication may very well affect a woman’s ability to ovulate by affecting the production of FSH (Follicular Stimulating Hormone) or LH (Luteinizing Hormone) by the pituitary. If one is taking medication like antidepressants or antipsychotics, they must be careful because they can interfere with the hormonal regulation of one’s ovulation and also elevate associated hormone levels like prolactin. Ovulation and fertility may be affected by medications that raise the prolactin levels – chlorpromazine, haloperidol, risperidone. Cyclophosphamide used for cancer and as an immunosuppressant can be toxic to the male and female reproductive system by interfering in oogenesis and spermatogenesis. For men testosterone treatment, anabolic steroids, narcotic painkillers, SSRI antidepressants can affect fertility by affecting the quality and quantity of sperms.

Some of the medications that one should consider replacing after consulting a doctor that can impact infertility are

  1. Anabolic steroids/testosterone therapy: Anabolic steroids used to counter muscle loss can make a man permanently sterile by reducing the quality and quantity of sperms
  2. Antidepressants: Some antidepressants, like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft, can impact a male’s sexual drive, his ability to get an erection and damage the sperm quality, a number of these drugs have side effects like loss of libido lowered sperm count, male erecticle dysfunction, and menstrual irregularities, they also raise the prolactin levels in women and disrupt ovulation.
  3. Antifungal medications: Antifungal medications, like ketoconazole, can restrain the production of testosterone hormone and lower the sperm count, and negative effect on sperm motility.
  4. Blood pressure medications: Calcium channel blockers, like Procardia (nifedipine), used to treat high blood pressure, increase the risk of lower sperm count.
  5. Chemotherapy drugs: Chemotherapy may interfere with fertility both in men and women. Chemotherapy can cause nausea and hair loss, may also decrease the libido. Chemotherapy drugs like cyclophosphamide and methotrexate, lower the sperm count in males. Cyclophosphamide, also called Cytoxan, is a medication administered to cancer patients and also used in autoimmune diseases that may cause fertility issues like amenorrhea and decreasing the estrogen levels and other hormonal levels in women. In men, the drug may cause low sperm count, impaired sperm motility, and there are cases when the sperm doesn’t develop properly. The cyclophosphamides can also decrease libido.
  6. Epilepsy drugs: Common drugs such as carbamazepine and valproate used to treat epilepsy can affect the sperm count, morphology, and motility of the sperm.
  7. Painkillers: The pain killers containing ibuprofen can reduce male fertility, painkillers are known to delay ovulation. If one is using prescription anti-inflammatories for conditions such as arthritis or rheumatism may temporarily interfere with ovulation. Periods can be disrupted or even stopped by drugs that affect the pituitary gland, talk to your doctor first about lowering your dose or switching to another medication.
  8. Propecia: Propecia a drug commonly used for hair loss impacts the male reproductive hormones to such an extent that it can weaken the production and functioning of sperms which may have adverse effects in men who have extremely low sperm counts.
  9. Sulfasalazine: Sulfasalazine which is commonly used to treat ulcerative colitis (a type of bowel disease), IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome), can affect the total sperm count, motility, and cause functional azoospermia.
  10. Urinary function drugs: Urinary function drugs, such as Nitrofurantoin are also known to lower the sperm count.

If one is on certain medication it’s recommended to wait three months before attempting conception. It may also make one’s body a month or two to get back to its optimal fertility after stopping some types of birth control pills, this may be because the ovaries are recovering after an extended time of suppression. Once a medicine is stopped, it takes a while for one’s body to recover, though the exact span varies from drug to drug. Normal egg production for months can be affected by some medications. Generally, most over-the-counter medications don’t interfere with fertility, but it’s always good to ascertain first with the doctor. Consultation with the doctor is necessary when it involves the medications one takes. If one is looking forward to planning a baby sooner or later, one needs to approach an established clinic or fertility centre to seek advice and get the best treatment that enhances the chances of success.

GarbhaGudi IVF Centre is amongst the country’s best fertility centres, based in Bangalore with an amazing team of fertility doctors, embryologists, and support staff who work closely with you to develop a personalized fertility treatment plan. GarbhaGudi is a destination to your bundle of joys.

For further details, you can also write to GarbhaGudi at dreams@garbhagudi.com or directly talk to our team at 8880000909

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