Posts Tagged ‘male fertility’

Public Enemy #1 for Male Fertility: Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids, such as testosterone and its derivatives, are often taken by athletes to get “pumped.”

But these drugs have a unique side effect — they can shrink a man’s testicles and drastically reduce his fertility.

One of the more serious side effects of these poisonous chemicals is on male reproductive organs, says Marc Goldstein, MD, director of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine and Microsurgery and surgeon-in-chief of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“Because of the high level of circulating testosterone caused by the steroids, the testicles no longer need to manufacture this hormone, so they being to shrink.

This reduces sperm production and may lead to both impotence and sterility,” says Dr. Goldstein.

In a new article posted on the American Fertility Association website, Stanton C. Honig, MD, Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery/Urology and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, examines how anabolic steroids affect male fertility.

“The use of anabolic steroids historically has been used by athletes in major sports, such as weight lifting, baseball and football,” writes Dr. Honig, who is also a Staff Urologist at Yale New Haven Hospital and the Hospital of St. Raphael in New Haven, CT.

“Because these so-called ‘role models’ use these drugs, anabolic steroid use or abuse has filtered down and is being used by recreational weight lifters, college, and high school athletes.”

The good news is that in many cases this problem is reversible, Dr. Honig says.

Once performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) such as steroids are stopped, sperm production may start again and sperm will return in the ejaculate, usually in about 3 months.

However, for those who have used steroids for years, this may take up to 2 years.

Once steroids are stopped, medical therapy may help enhance the ability of a man’s body to restart sperm production.

What’s more, PEDs can also cause sexual dysfunction, Dr. Honig notes.

When testosterone levels crash, this may lead to tiredness, loss of energy, and loss of sex drive.

“The most important point here is if you want to have children at some point in your life, DON’T USE ANABOLIC STEROIDS!!!” Dr. Honig admonishes.

And Dr. Goldstein agrees: “If you want to preserve your fertility, do not use anabolic steroids.”

In fact, testosterone has been successfully used as a contraceptive for men, he notes.

“Don’t Hit My Balls” – How Young Male Athletes Can Preserve Their Fertility

“Don’t hit my balls. I want to have kids!”

I heard one of my son’s high school varsity soccer teammates shout this as he took his place in “the wall” to stop an opponent’s free kick at the goal.

At least he knew that testicular trauma could lead to fertility problems.

Most young men don’t know about the effects of damage of the male genitals and possible problems with having a child later in life.

The first installment from the American Fertility Association’s Male Reproductive Health Alliance (MRHA) features Dr. Ajay Nangia, Associate Professor of Urology at the University of Kansas Medical Center, addressing the topic of male fertility and sports activities.

Dr. Nangia notes that blunt trauma, such as being hit by a bat, ball or hockey puck in the genitals without breaking though the skin, accounts for most of the testicular injuries that send young men to the emergency room.

Yet, only about half of the men playing sports wear genital protection, such as a cup, during sports.

Dr. Nangia emphasizes the need for self-examinations for testicular cancer.

He is a big believer in preparticipation physical exams for all young athletes to check for testicular damage and hernias.

And he notes that while Lance Armstrong survived testicular cancer he really waited too long for the diagnosis and that’s why his cancer spread.

“Overall, sporting activities highlight the need to discuss men’s health issues at preparticipation physicals at all levels but also in schools from an early age,” writes Dr. Nangia.

“Sports also highlight the need to re-iterate education and protection of the male genitals during sports.

At present, there is a lack of adequate information provided to young men and also inadequate technology to make such protection comfortable to wear.

More work is needed to educate sports equipment companies and sporting leagues of the importance of this issue.

Great advances have been made with bike seats through better knowledge and health promotion, now it is time to improve other genital protection.

We urge boys and men who participate in sports on a regular basis to help and educate themselves to ensure a successful reproductive life and good long-term men’s health.”

Back to the game: With their hands covering their crotches, the young soccer players sighed in relief as the opponent’s kick went well over their heads, and they turned to play on.

Some Surprising Causes of Male Infertility

A number of lifestyle factors play a role in a man’s fertility.

About 25% of the time, a man could have avoided infertility by being more aware of lifestyle choices that can harm sperm, says male fertility expert Marc Goldstein, MD, in a new article in the Wall Street Journal about the surprising causes of male infertility.

The article highlights certain lifestyle factors, specifically an adolescent groin injury, cigarette smoking, heavy drinking, intense cycling, and even using a laptop directly on the lap.

In A Baby at Last!, Dr. Goldstein and co-author Zev Rosenwaks, MD, fertility experts at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical College, provide a list of lifestyle factors that can impair a man’s fertility.

These include:

–smoking cigarettes

–heavy drinking

–stress

–excessive weight

–exposure to heat

–recreational drug use

–sexually transmitted diseases

–genital infections that lead to sperm busters called antisperm antibodies

–drugs to improve sexual performance

–health kicks such as too-strenuous exercise

On Dr. Goldstein’s Cornell Institute for Reproductive Medicine website, he describes “10 Tips to a Fertile Lifestyle” that provide guidelines on how a man can maintain his fertility.

In their book, the two fertility doctors suggest what a man and a woman can do to “upgrade” their fertility.

Their take-home messages for men are:

• To optimize your chances of producing viable sperm, live a fertile lifestyle: don’t smoke, limit your drinking, minimize stress, be physically active, maintain a healthy weight, eat lots of fresh fruits and leafy, green vegetables, take fertility-enhancing vitamins, and avoid recreational drugs.

• Protect yourself from damage from sexually transmitted diseases.

• If you take prescription medications regularly or you need cancer therapy, talk with your doctor about strategies to preserve your sperm.

• Reduce your exposure to environmental hazards.

• If you are a man, avoid activities that raise the temperature of your testicles, ask your doctor for help with erectile problems, and don’t take hair-growth pills.

Adopting these healthy lifestyle habits, and avoiding negative habits, will help preserve your fertility and increase your chances of fathering a child.