SA's IVF Leader Since 1982
Endocrine Disorders

Androgen (anabolic steroid) abuse and fertility

Androgen abuse refers to unauthorised or excessive use of male hormones (such as testosterone) for the purpose of enhancing physical performance or appearance. This can include the use of anabolic steroids, which are synthetic compounds that mimic the effects of testosterone in the body such as to increase weight and muscle mass. These steroids can cause male infertility by affecting the production and function of sperm.

One of the most common ways in which anabolic steroids can affect fertility in men is by decreasing sperm count and motility. This happens because steroids disrupt the normal balance of hormones in the body. External anabolic steroids raise blood levels of testosterone which switches off the signal to the testes to make natural testosterone. Low testosterone inside the testes is detrimental to sperm production and causes the testicles to shrink.

Long-term use of anabolic steroids can also cause the body to stop producing testosterone naturally. This can lead to a decrease in testicular function and a host of other health problems such as cardiovascular disease, liver, and kidney damage.

There is no evidence that intermittent cycling of drugs reduces their impact, and these effects can sometimes be irreversible.

Anabolic steroids are best avoided by anyone seeking to become a parent.