Steroid Use and Male Fertility

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Many men do not realize that the testosterone they are taking to improve their appearance can seriously affect their fertility and overall health. They may not know that using a steroid like testosterone to build muscle mass can cause low sperm counts or even the absence of sperm. Ovation Fertility partner physicians routinely raise awareness of this problem.

To understand the correlation between steroid use and male fertility, it’s important to understand how steroid use affects the male reproductive system.

  1. Steroids can cause the brain to think that the body is producing the necessary amount of testosterone.
  2. The brain then signals the testicles to slow or even completely stop sperm production.
  3. This confusion can lead to a low sperm count or the absence of sperm, and even cause the testicles to shrink, resulting in male infertility.

In most cases, our Ovation Fertility partner physicians view this problem as treatable. When a man stops taking steroids, sperm generally returns to normal in approximately three months. If a man has been using steroids for an extended period, recovery could take longer. Occasionally testosterone treatment can mask testicular failure. Blood work can fully evaluate the causes of low sperm production following testosterone discontinuation.

It is important that men understand that ongoing 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.

Testosterone Use Requires Physician Supervision

Testosterone use is appropriate only when prescribed and administered under physician supervision. It is important to note that muscle-building steroids should never be used. If a man has a low testosterone level, a physician may prescribe testosterone, but this approach will also drastically lower his sperm count. Physicians may prescribe hormone-regulating medications that do not affect family-building potential while creating normal testosterone levels.

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