Prescription medications can adversely affect male fertility.
Researchers at Stanford determined that certain classes of antihypertensive medications have a deleterious effect on male fertility. Using a national database of insurance claims filed in the US for patients with employer-provided coverage, they extracted data on men who had taken antihypertensive drugs, whose diagnosis or treatment codes suggested infertility. They compared the incidence of infertility during the year after patients were prescribed drugs with the infertility rate in the year prior to the prescription. The risk of infertility was higher among patients taking ACE inhibitors and beta blockers by 9% and 11%, respectively. There was no association between calcium channel blockers and infertility rates.
To confirm their findings, the researchers examined the records of men evaluated at a California fertility center for whom semen analyses and medication histories were available. They found that beta blockers had a significant negative effect on semen volume, sperm concentration and motility.
University of Utah researchers reviewed almost 12,000 semen analyses and associated patient records that included prescription drug use to determine whether stimulants taken for ADHD improve the sperm motility of infertile men. They found that patients who had been taking stimulants for at least three months prior to their semen analyses had lower semen values for sperm concentration, total sperm count, total progressive motility, and total motile sperm count compared to patients who had taken no medications. Patients who had taken other, spermatotoxic, drugs along with stimulants showed some increase in total sperm count.
Men who are taking these drugs could consider asking their medical doctor to switch to an alternative that might be more fertility-friendly. If the semen parameters are very low, then a change in medication would be unlikely alone to make a significant difference. At Reproductive Partners we have all fertility treatment options available for men who have even the most severe semen problems. Conventional treatment such as intrauterine insemination for less severe problems to IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) are available.
For couples just starting to try to conceive, a discussion with the man’s physician to make sure he is not on any sperm toxic drugs or has lifestyle issues that might adversely affect his sperm could allow him to make changes early that might help avoid a delay in conceiving.