Effects of Methamphetamines on Fertility and In Pregnancy
Australia has recently received the unwelcome honour of being the ‘meth capital’ of the world, and methamphetamine is now the most popular illicit drug in Australia.
With such widespread abuse, we often see firsthand how it affects fertility.
Male Fertility Impacts
In men, meth use interferes with fertility in many ways. Prolonged meth abuse reduces sperm count and damages the sperm which remain. Sperm motility (ability to swim) is reduced, and there is significant DNA damage to the sperm that do retain motility. Meth use also reduces blood testosterone levels, as well as inhibits the balance of hormones that maintain healthy reproductive function. All of the effects which have been studied were dose-dependent meaning that the more meth used, the stronger the effects.
How Meth Affects Female Fertility
The most common side effect of meth use in women is menstrual & ovulation abnormalities. These can persist for 10 months or more after meth use has stopped. This may include irregular, heavy, or light periods with an increased possibility of anovulatory cycle. Anovulation occurs when an egg does not release, or ovulate, from a woman’s ovaries. Chronic anovulation is a common cause of sub/infertility, accounting for almost 30 percent of female sub/infertility.
Meth use in pregnancy
Use by women during pregnancy causes harm to the fetus and the mother alike. Factors that pose a threat to both can include higher chances of hypertension, placenta previa, placental abruption, amniotic infection, and intrauterine fetal death.
There are a variety of birth defects that can result from meth use. The most common issues are premature birth, small for gestational age (SGA), and low birth weight. Additionally, cognitive deficits and mental health disorders are common in infants born to mothers who used meth during pregnancy.
Breastfeeding and Amphetamines
Amphetamine use inhibits prolactin release and can reduce breast milk supply. It is reported that infants who ingest the breast milk of women using amphetamines exhibit increased irritability, agitation, and crying.