Substance abuse has the potential to affect the reproductive health of both males and females negatively. In fact, drug addiction and alcoholism can lead to infertility. When a woman abuses drugs or drinks alcohol during pregnancy, she puts her unborn child at the risk of complications that relate to pregnancy. She also exposes the child to risks of future problems that may affect their health as well as functioning ability after birth.
What’s more, alcoholism and drug abuse can damage body organs as well as bring infections and diseases. It can impair mental, physical and emotional health. It’s therefore not wrong to think that alcoholism and drug abuse can interfere with the proper functioning of the entire reproductive systems. Alcoholism and drug addiction can cause possibly irreversible damage to the reproductive systems.
Why Women Abuse Drugs
Women abuse drugs for varied reasons including fighting exhaustion, controlling weight, coping with pain, and self-treating mental health issues. Majority of the women that abuse drugs have issues with the menstrual cycle, hormones, pregnancy, menopause, and breastfeeding. Essentially, most women have unique reasons for abusing drugs.
When compared to men, women use substances differently. For instance, women use some drugs in smaller amounts and in relatively less time to become addicted. In the specialized rehab for women, the response is also different. Women respond to addiction treatments differently from men even in the same environment. For instance, women can have more cravings for drugs when undergoing treatment. Chances for relapse are also higher for women.
How Alcoholism and Drug Addiction Affect Women Fertility
Generally, medical professionals recommend against even moderate drug use and drinking when a woman wants to conceive. That’s because knowing exactly when a woman conceives is difficult for a woman that is high on drugs or alcohol. Additionally, alcohol and drugs can harm the growing fetus.
Research shows that when starting an In Vitro Fertilization treatment, women that drink four or more drinks every week are 16% less likely to give birth to a live baby than those who drink less than this or don’t drink at all. If both partners drink a minimum of four drinks per week, chances of giving birth to a live baby are reduced further to 21% when compared to that of couples that drink less than 4 drinks per week or don’t drink at all.
Additionally, women with high alcohol consumption rate are 18% less likely to conceive when compared to women that do not drink. Women who smoke tobacco or use tobacco products are at a higher risk of delayed conception and other fertility issues.
Alcoholism and drug addiction alter women’s menstrual cycle. It can also lead to heavier or lighter menstrual periods as well as increased cramping. Methadone and heroin can cause amenorrhea.
What’s more, substance abuse can affect sexual desire, arousal, and pleasure in women. Heavy alcohol consumption can lower vaginal lubrication as well as orgasm ability. Addiction to intravenous drugs among women increases the risk of developing diseases and infections that are transmitted via blood. These include HIV and STDs which can affect the fertility of a woman. It’s therefore important for a woman to seek help at a reputable women’s recovery center before the addiction problem escalates.
Effects of Alcoholism and Drug Addiction on Men Fertility
Alcoholism and drug addiction in men can cause several fertility issues. For instance, alcohol and drug abuse increase STDs risk in men. When using intravenous drugs, men share needles and this puts them at the risk of getting HIV/AIDs and hepatitis among other blood-borne diseases.
Men that use cocaine and marijuana can undergo hormonal level changes that affect sperm movement leading to infertility. Performance-enhancing drugs can increase testosterone levels. This can lead to lower hormone production in the reproductive organs. Testicles can produce sperm in fewer amounts or even shrink.
Additionally, alcoholism and drug abuse in men can cause sexual dysfunction. Alcohol consumed even in a lower or moderate amount can slow the brain and body leading to erectile dysfunction. It can even make a man unable to get or maintain erection. It can also cause ejaculation problems just like methamphetamine and cocaine.
Treatment for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction
According to research, alcoholism and drug addiction treatment is a complex issue that calls for a multidisciplinary approach. Seeking professional help is the best chance a person has when it comes to recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction. In most cases, going alone or isolation does not work. Many people end up relapsing when they try to quit alcohol consumption or drug abuse without professional assistance.
If you are a woman or you know a woman that is battling alcoholism or drug addiction, it’s important that you seek help at a women-only drug rehab. Such a facility provides treatment that is tailored with careful consideration of the fact that women respond to addiction and treatment differently from men.
Specialized treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction in women is highly beneficial because it focuses on their emotional needs. It also helps with the management of co-occurring disorders, childcare issues, as well as coping with stigma, stress and cultural expectations. Additionally, specialized alcoholism and drug addiction treatment programs for women teach them how to avoid or minimize relapse.
Men can also seek treatment in gender-specific rehab centers. In addition to detox, treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction can include workshops which teach individuals important coping skills. Emotional support is also provided via peer groups. Therapy and counseling sessions are also part of addiction treatment programs.
In female rehab centers, women can face mental and medical health complications. However, these are managed with integrated care as well as medical detox. Medications can also be administered if necessary. Pregnant women battling alcoholism or drug addiction can also enroll in specialized treatment programs.
In a nutshell, men and women are different and the way they respond to addictive substances and addiction treatment varies. However, alcoholism and drug addiction affect fertility in both men and women. For effective recovery, treatment modalities should be tailored to suit the specific needs of women and men. Hence, the need for gender-specific alcoholism and drug addiction treatment programs and centers.
About the Author
Jaffrey Buckley is a columnist who focuses on drug use/abuse in the sport. His works aim to prevent athletes from improper drug use showing the consequences of abuse.