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Steroid Use and Infertility

Steroids use can drastically lower sperm counts in men and result in infertility

Male infertility can be a very sensitive and difficult issue for many men to accept. It can come as a big surprise that they may be creating the problem by taking certain supplements – especially (anabolic) steroids. Steroids that are used to enhance strength and fitness can actually drastically lower a sperm count (to zero in many cases).

Steroids that are taken to promote muscle growth and overall fitness can 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….leading to low (or absent sperm counts) and shrunken testicles. In a sense, steroids can act like ‘male birth control.

The good news is that steroids use is often a very treatable and recoverable form of male infertility.

Once the use of steroids has stopped, it generally takes about 3 months for there to be a return of sperm in the semen. For men who have used steroids for a long time, the time to recovery may be longer – even sometimes a year or more.

In addition to male fertility issues, steroids can cause a number of other health issues, such as acne, breast development, liver problems, heart attack, and stroke. Some of these issues may be irreversible. If you are taking steroids to improve your strength and muscle mass, it is critical for you to be aware of the health risks you are taking – both short term and long term.

Occasionally men may be prescribed testosterone by a physician to boost an overall lower than normal testosterone level. This would be an appropriate use of testosterone. However, testosterone is a steroid hormone – and will cause the sperm count to plummet. If a man has baseline low testosterone and also desires fertility, there are other alternative medications that can help maintain normal testosterone levels AND a normal sperm count.

Take the first step toward reaching your goal. Call our office today and schedule a consultation with one of our fertility physicians. We serve the Austin, San Antonio, and Houston areas with comprehensive Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility care.

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