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Tobacco, Marijuana, and Other Drugs

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Casarella, MD on December 26, 2021

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 Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and HIV infection associated with risky sexual behavior.

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. Alcohol use disorder or excessive use of alcohol may delay a man's sexual response and cause impotence by interfering with a man's ability to have an erection.