Drug use may have negative eff ects on female fertility
- Carmyn Oliver
Elysia Mitchell, 24, said that if she had known what she knows now she would not have drank and smoked so much.Which means she wouldn’t be in the situation she is in now.
“I remember when I was about 20, I was drinking while I was pregnant, but I didn’t even know I was pregnant and I ended up having a miscarriage,” Mitchell said. “I think I would’ve been more responsible and careful with what I was doing back then.”
Marijuana, tobacco, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and alcohol are just a handful of substances that can have an effect the brain, lungs and the overall health of the human body.
These drugs can have a negative impact on fertility in women as well.
“I would tell any girl out there to watch what she is doing before her body ends up not being strong enough to hold a baby, and will never have a chance to start a family,” Mitchell said. “Just like me.”
“Drugs like these can have long term effects on a woman’s fertility like miscarriages, fetal deaths, and stillborns,” Jacqueline De Fouw, U of M heath educator, said.
Fertility is the quality of a woman’s productiveness and ability to conceive children, depending on her age, health and other factors.
“Why some of these young adults make these poor decisions, I don’t know, but I think that some of them feel like these things can not happen to them, and then I think that they don’t know the consequences nor do they fully understand,” De Fouw said.
Female fertility does in fact decline with age, but the consumption of alcohol and other illegal drugs causes fertility in women to decrease more rapidly and causes some internal damage to the female body.
For example, a study in Epidemiology found women who smoked marijuana within the same year of trying to get pregnant had a slightly higher risk of infertility, caused by abnormalities in ovulation, than non-smoking women.
De Fouw said that cannabinoids bind the receptors on the uterus, which can causes a miscarriage.
She said marijuana alters the hormones that sustain the pregnancy and delays movement of the ovum in the oviducts.
The ovum is the mature female reproduction cell that divides to give rise to an embryo after fertilization of a male cell.
Tobacco use impairs the ovaries ability to produce the eggs to be fertilized and women are likely to have an irregular menstrual cycle, which makes it difficult to conceive. Women who smoked cigarettes while trying to get pregnant were 42 percent more likely to experience delays in conception of more than a year, compared to women who do not smoke cigarettes, written by the Human Reproduction Journal.
De Fouw said that the opiates alone cause placental abruption in women. Placental abruption is the separation of the placenta from the wall of the uterus before birth.
“This is a very serious matter because this could cause some serious bleeding, and the baby won’t get enough oxygen or nutrients while in the womb,” De Fouw said.
Cocaine stimulates peripheral and central nervous system causing vasoconstriction and anesthetic effects.
Vasoconstriction is the constriction of blood vessels by small muscles in their walls. De Fouw said that cocaine use causes impaired ovarian response to hormones, and can eventually lead to placental abruption.
Binge drinking also can make it more difficult for women to conceive and can increase the risk of her baby developing fetal alcohol syndrome, the Centers for Disease Control said on their website.
Fetal alcohol syndrome is caused by excessive alcohol consumption resulting in the retardation of the baby’s mental development and physical growth.
De Fouw said women who are heavy drinkers have a higher chance of infertility.
“The studies I found were not amount specific with the alcohol, so any alcohol can cause infertility,” De Fouw said.
De Fouw said few cases on infertility can be resolved and the effects will diminish over time, but most of them are forever.
“One to five drinks per day can cause a decrease in conception by 50 percent and women who do not ovulate will have hormonal dysfunctions and fetal anomalies at the blastocyst stage,” she said.
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