Low sperm counts can often be the result of testosterone and steroid use
Many men are surprised to learn that they may be harming their fertility by taking certain supplements to make them feel better or stronger. In particular, testosterone and anabolic steroids can have detrimental impacts on a man’s sperm production and his ability to father a child.
High testosterone levels harm sperm count
Our fertility specialists routinely raise awareness of the impacts of testosterone and steroid use on a man’s sperm count. Occasionally men may be prescribed testosterone by a physician to boost an overall lower than normal testosterone level, commonly known as Low-T. However, testosterone is a steroid hormone and will cause sperm count to plummet.
Testosterone and anabolic steroids harm male fertility by interfering with the hormone signals that are needed to produce sperm. Steroids that are taken to promote muscle growth and overall fitness actually trick the brain into thinking that there is a sufficient amount of testosterone being produced. As a result, the brain decreases its signaling to the testicles. Steroid use can actually lead to low (or absent) sperm counts and shrunken testicles. In a sense, steroids can act like male birth control.
The good news is that this is often a very treatable and recoverable form of male infertility. Once a man stops testosterone and steroid use, sperm counts generally return to normal in about three to twelve months after they stop taking the drug. However, for men who have used steroids for a long time, recovery may take longer – sometimes a year or more. Occasionally testosterone treatment can mask testicular failure. Blood work can fully evaluate the causes of low sperm production following testosterone discontinuation.
Steroids can have long-term impacts on overall male health
If you are taking testosterone or steroids to improve your strength and muscle mass, it is critical for you not only to be aware of the connection between steroid use and male infertility, but also the risks you are taking that impact long-term health. Just how much damage is done depends on the drugs, dose and how long a man takes them.
Ongoing, long-term steroid use can cause other health issues — some of which may be irreversible — such as adult acne, breast development, liver problems, heart attack and stroke. Because of the strong negative impact of anabolic steroids on male fertility and the other health concerns related to these substances, men should not use these drugs.
Men should also be wary of easily available fitness and muscle-building dietary supplements from less reputable sources. These supplements may be tainted with anabolic steroids and cause sperm production problems as well as other longer-term health issues.
Contact Fertility Answers to make a plan for addressing hormonal imbalances while boosting fertility.