Cocaine use and addiction can make it harder to conceive a child. To avoid fertility issues, both men and women should also avoid cocaine use.

Yes, cocaine use can cause fertility issues for both men and women. Cocaine can disrupt the ovulation cycle for women and mens’ sperm counts. It is also known to cause congenital disabilities (birth defects) and miscarriages when used during pregnancy. To avoid these fertility-related complications, expectant mothers and their partners are advised not to use harmful substances like cocaine.

Article at a Glance:

Cocaine can cause infertility in both men and women

Cocaine has been shown to lower sperm count in men

Cocaine increases prolactin levels during use and withdrawal. Prolactin is a hormone that alters the menstrual cycle and can stop ovulation.

Never use cocaine while pregnant, it can cause permanent congenital disabilities (birth defects) or miscarriage

Cocaine and Male Fertility

Cocaine use among men has been associated with a lower sperm count and low sperm motility. 

A group of researchers interviewed men at an infertility clinic for an infertility study conducted in 2013. The results showed that men with a sperm count less than 20 million per milliliter were twice as likely to have used cocaine in the last two years. A normal sperm count is between 15-200 million per milliliter.

The same study also looked at the data in reverse. Researchers studied men with a five-year history of cocaine use and found that they were two times more likely to have low sperm motility.

How Does Cocaine Affect Sperm?

Cocaine binds to receptors on cells in the testicles and decreases their sperm production. When cocaine binds to these receptors, the sperm cells are constructed incorrectly and the cellular structures cannot survive. The cells die early and cannot mature into healthy, functioning sperm. 

When cocaine enters the bloodstream, it increases neurotransmitters (chemical signals) like dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are important for the development of new cells and tell the cells how to build their inner structures correctly. Therefore, these signals must be carefully regulated to produce new and functioning sperm cells.

Additionally, cocaine also causes blood vessels to constrict (tighten) and deliver less oxygen to some tissue. If tissue loses blood flow and oxygen over a long time, the cells can die.

Cocaine and Female Fertility

Currently, not as much research exists about cocaine and female fertility, as compared to the data on male fertility. However, cocaine use does harm female fertility as well. 

Cocaine use affects the menstrual cycle by increasing levels of prolactin. High prolactin levels stop ovulation and can cause delayed and irregular periods. 

Prolactin is also increased during periods of cocaine withdrawal, so detoxing from cocaine might prevent ovulation for days or months after detox.

Cocaine and Pregnancy

Cocaine should never be used during pregnancy, and it can cause many different types of birth defects, which are commonly referred to as congenital disabilities. The following are some common consequences associated with drug abuse during pregnancy:

  • Low birth weight
  • Lower IQ
  • Miscarriage
  • Premature birth
  • Stroke and brain damage in the fetus

If you or someone you know is abusing cocaine while pregnant, it is important to get help to stop using cocaine. Cocaine produces good feelings (euphoria) in people who use it and it may be hard to stop using this addictive drug. Damage to a developing fetus is permanent, so it is important to seek treatment for cocaine addiction if a person is pregnant or might be pregnant.

If you or someone you know needs treatment for cocaine use or abuse, The Recovery Village can help. We have facilities located across the country and offer comprehensive treatment programming. To take the first step toward recovery, call The Recovery Village today.

Camille Renzoni
Editor – Camille Renzoni
Cami Renzoni is a creative writer and editor for The Recovery Village. As an advocate for behavioral health, Cami is certified in mental health first aid and encourages people who face substance use disorders to ask for the help they deserve. Read more
Conor Sheehy
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

Das, G. “Cocaine Abuse and Reproduction.”“>“Cocai[…]roduction.” International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 1994. Accessed 15 May 2019.

Fronczak, C. M., et al. “The Insults of Illicit Drug Use on Male Fertility.”“>“The I[…]Fertility.” Journal of Andrology, 2011. Accessed 15 May 2019.

Mello, N K, et al. “Effects of Dopamine on Prolactin: Interactions with Cocaine Self-Administration by Female Rhesus Monkeys.”“>“Effec[…]s Monkeys.” The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 1994. Accessed 15 May 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.