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Tobacco, Marijuana, and Other Drugs

Toxic effects related to tobacco, marijuana, and other drugs

Smoking may cause infertility in both men and women. In experimental animals, nicotine has been shown to block the production of sperm and decrease the size of male testicles. In women, tobacco changes the cervical mucus, thus affecting the way sperm reach the egg.

Marijuana may disrupt a woman's ovulation cycle, affecting the release of the egg. In men, marijuana use can decrease the sperm count as well as affect the quality of the sperm.

Heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine use induces similar effects but places the user at increased risk for PID and HIV infection associated with risky sexual behavior.

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Understanding Infertility -- The Basics

Infertility means not getting pregnant after a year of regular, unprotected sex. The man, the woman, or both, may have a fertility problem. In women over 35 years old, infertility means not getting pregnant after six months of regular, unprotected sex.  Infertility doesn't always mean a person is sterile -- unable ever to have a child. Up to 15% of all couples are infertile, but only 1% to 2% are sterile. Half of couples who seek help can eventually have a child, either on their own or with...

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In women, the effects of alcohol are related to severe consequences for the fetus. And chronic alcoholism is related to disorders in ovulation, which interferes with fertility. Alcohol use by men interferes with the synthesis of testosterone and has an impact on sperm concentration. Alcoholism may delay a man's sexual response and cause impotence by interfering with a man's ability to have an erection.

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on May 06, 2014

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