Anonymous on August 9, 2011

Do steroids affect sperm count?

Someday I want to have children with my boyfriend...but I’m concerned. He’s short, very muscular and he used to take steroids when he was younger (not anymore). Could his previous steroid use affect his sperm count and make him infertile? Also, his penis tilts to the side. Should I worry?

answered by David Sobel, MD, JD on August 9, 2011

You’ve asked some good questions and you’re right: anabolic steroids can temporarily lower sperm counts and could potentially cause problems with fertility.

Research shows that men who take steroids have significantly decreased sperm counts. What’s more, the sperm that they do produce functions poorly and aren’t good swimmers - an important aspect of fertility. In other words, men who are currently taking anabolic steroids will likely have trouble impregnating a woman.

The good news for you and your boyfriend is that the effect of steroids on sperm count and fertility is usually temporary. According to research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, most men who had taken anabolic steroids and stopped taking them for at least four monthshad almost normal levels of sperm count and motility (the ability of the sperm to swim). That means that as long as your boyfriend stopped taking steroids at least four months ago, it’s likely that his fertility today won’t be affected by his steroid use.

Regarding your concern that your boyfriend’s penis leans to one side...many men’s penises tilt to one side or the other, which can be entirely normal. That said, it’s hard to know for sure the nature of the “tilt” without an examination by a doctor.

There are some medical issues that could cause a bend in the penis, andpenis fractures andPeyronie’s disease also cause similar symptoms. To be on the safe side, I would encourage your boyfriend to see his doctor or a urologist...that way, he can know for sure whether he needs medical attention.

David Sobel, MD, JD

Dr. Sobel is a Colorado-based urologist and Director of the Denver Center for Men’s Health. His areas of expertise include men's sexual health and all areas of urology, including urologic oncology, treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy, stone disease and incontinence. Dr. Sobel was educated at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, and completed his residency at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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