Friday, January 4, 2013

The Effects of Substance Abuse on a Woman's Fertility

The effects of substance abuse on fertility may not be a hot topic of discussion. However, studies have shown that drug use can have a significant effect on a woman's fertility. It is estimated that 10 percent of couples will have a problem conceiving.

There are a number of medical conditions that can contribute to female infertility; in some cases substance abuse can worsen those conditions. Fortunately a woman who seeks treatment and stops abusing drugs and alcohol can significantly decrease her risks of realizing the negative effects of previous drug or alcohol abuse.

Effects of Substance Abuse on Fertility

Ovulatory Dysfunction

Most women ovulate every 25 to 32 days. Ovulatory dysfunction occurs when a woman does not ovulate at all or on an infrequent basis. It is estimated that 40 percent of female infertility cases can be attributed to ovulatory dysfunction. Some of the possible signs of ovulatory dysfunction include irregular periods and periods that are unusually heavy or light. Unfortunately the many of the seemingly insignificant effects of drug and alcohol abuse, such as insomnia and poor nutrition can contribute to ovulatory dysfunction.

Poor Egg Quality

Drug use can cause the number and quality of a woman's eggs to decrease. Older women who have a substance abuse problem are more likely to experience poor egg quality, as a woman's egg quality naturally declines as she gets older. Women who have poor egg quality will not show any signs or symptoms - this condition can only be diagnosed by a physician.

Increased Risk Of Stillbirth Or Miscarriage

It is estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of pregnancies will end in a miscarriage, another of the common effects of substance abuse. Over 80 percent of miscarriages occur before the 12th week of pregnancy. Stillbirths, or when the baby dies after 28 weeks of pregnancy, occur in about one in 160 pregnancies.

Not only can a woman have a harder time getting pregnant if she abuses drugs, but she may also have a harder time carrying the baby to full-term. Additionally, women who use drugs while they are pregnant are more likely to give birth to a stillborn baby. Stillbirths and miscarriages are two of the most serious and devastating effects of substance abuse on fertility.

Ovulatory dysfunction, poor egg quality and an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth are just a few of the many effects of substance abuse on fertility. The good news is that women can dramatically reduce their risk of suffering fertility problems if they stop abusing drugs and alcohol. Women who have a substance abuse problem can consider enrolling in a treatment center for help.

If you or a woman you love is having problems with drug or alcohol addiction, a substance abuse treatment program for women may be the answer. Remember that recovery from addiction and alcohol abuse treatment means learning how to cope with intensely emotional situations, and identifying when you need help and support.