Antihistamines May Affect Male Fertility

An Argentinian review of multiple animal studies is suggesting that antihistamines, found in common allergy medications, may affect male fertility.  The study, published in the journal Reproduction, found that antihistamine use could decrease sperm motility and alter sperm morphology.

The study found several papers that reported impaired testicular function in animal studies after antihistamine exposure.  These papers found that antihistamines possibly affected the production of male sex hormones in the testicles, thereby affecting sperm production and function.  The majority of these studies were performed on mice, rats, and hamsters.

Although the results sound alarming since antihistamines are one of the most commonly used over the counter medications, we must remember that there is still a lack of convincing evidence in humans.  Dr. Carolina Mondillo, from the Experimental Medicine and Biology Insistute in Argentina, authored the study and she herself pointed out, “More large-scale trials are needed to evaluate the possible negative effects of antihistamine on reproductive and sexual health.”

It has been estimated that up to 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children in the U.S. suffer from allergy symptoms.  Given how common allergies and allergy treatments are these days, further studies are certainly warranted.  Until those reports have been published, male suffering from infertility don’t necessarily need to discontinue antihistamine use altogether, but may want to limit use to the lowest dosage and shortest duration possible. It’s also important to note that any possible effects of antihistamine exposure can likely be overcome with treatments, such as intrauterine inseminations (IUI) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Dr. Channa Jayasena, from Imperial College of London, summarized the implications of this study well by saying, “The average sperm quality in the population has been reducing over the last few decades, so it is always important to  consider that common and increasingly used medications may be partly responsible.”

“The authors aim to summarize previous scientific studies in the field. As they acknowledge, it is far too soon to raise alarm bells about taking these medications.”

“Many agents have been linked to male infertility. The trick is working out how much overall impact they have on men’s reproductive health, which is still not known.”

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