Does Marijuana Reduce Male Fertility?
(Marijuana reduces sperm count and concentration. Source: National Institutes of Health – https://www.Nih.gov)
Marijuana is rapidly becoming more accepted in mainstream society, and is now legal in many states. Some countries such as Canada have now enacted federal legislation making marijuana legal throughout the entire nation. Now that smoking week has become socially acceptable, there is also much more research being done on both the benefits and potential problems associated with smoking marijuana.
One big question we hear often from guys concerns the fear that marijuana could make them infertile. Does smoking marijuana impact male fertility?
If you’re a guy who likes marijuana and you’re trying to conceive, you might not be happy with the following information. Unfortunately, recent studies show that smoking marijuana does affect male fertility, and could reduce your chances of fathering a child.
The prevalence of marijuana use among males of reproductive age has never been higher, while male factor infertility is also on the increase. Researchers believe that the spread of legal medical and recreational marijuana use in the U.S. may be a contributing factor in the increase in male infertility.
Marijuana contains the cannabinoid drug THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), its primary psychoactive chemical, as well as other cannabinoids. Several studies have linked marijuana usage and male infertility but how the use of the drug affects infertility has been attributed to a variety of reasons.
One study found that men who smoke marijuana frequently have significantly less seminal fluid, a lower total sperm count and their sperm behave abnormally. All of these factors could adversely affect fertility.
The University at Buffalo study was the first to exam marijuana’s effects on the specific swimming behavior of sperm from marijuana smokers and to compare the results with sperm from men with confirmed fertility.
Research confirms depression reduces male fertility.
New research suggests men in their child-bearing years should consider how THC could impact their sperm and possibly the children they conceive during periods when they’ve been using the drug. Much like previous research that has shown tobacco smoke, pesticides, flame retardants and even obesity can alter sperm, the new research shows THC also affects epigenetics, triggering structural and regulatory changes in the DNA of users’ sperm.
(Source: Science Daily)
The study defined regular users as those who smoked marijuana at least weekly for the previous six months. Their sperm were compared to those who had not used marijuana in the past six months and not more than 10 times in their lifetimes.
The higher the concentration of THC in the men’s urine, the more pronounced the genetic changes to their sperm were, the authors found.
Different Study – Same Conclusion:
Another study has come to the same conclusion. While researchers are still unsure of the exact reasons for these effects, the results of studies clearly reveal that the active ingredients found in marijuana impact sperm and negatively impact fertility, according to Lani J. Burkman, Ph.D., lead author on the study.
“We don’t know exactly what is happening to change sperm functioning,” said Burkman, “but we think it is one of two things: THC may be causing the improper timing of sperm function by direct stimulation, or it may be bypassing natural inhibition mechanisms.”
The Buffalo study also discovered in the andrology laboratory showed that human sperm exposed to high levels of THC displayed abnormal changes in the sperm enzyme cap, called the acrosome.
When the investigators tested synthetic anandamide equivalents — an essential fatty acid neurotransmitter — on human sperm, the normal vigorous swimming patterns were changed and the sperm showed reduced ability to attach to the egg before fertilization.
What does this mean for male fertility?
It’s already been well established in tons of research that men in Western countries are facing a fertility crisis. Sperm count in males of reproductive age more than halved between 1973 and 2011.
According to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, approximately 9 percent of men in the United States have faced infertility.
Because of this huge drop in male fertility, researchers have been looking at how different modifiable factors, such as lifestyle choices, might affect male fertility.
In a new study, a team of investigators from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, has focused on the effects that smoking marijuana has on markers of male fertility. The researchers’ findings, which they report in a study paper that features in the journal Human Reproduction, ran counter to the hypothesis that they established at the beginning of the study.
“The unexpected findings highlight how little we know about the reproductive health effects of marijuana and, in fact, of the health effects of marijuana in general,” notes study author Jorge Chavarro.
“Our results need to be interpreted with caution, and they highlight the need to further study the health effects of marijuana use,” he emphasizes.
Questions around male fertility
The World Health Organization estimates that one in every four couples of reproductive age in developing countries experiences childlessness despite five years of attempting pregnancy.
A separate study estimated that more than 45 million couples, or about 15% of all couples worldwide, were infertile in 2010, while another unrelated study suggested that men were solely responsible for up to 30% and contribute up to 50% of cases overall.
Meanwhile, a recent analysis published in the journal Human Reproduction Update found that sperm counts of men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand are plunging. Researchers recorded a 52% decline in sperm concentration and a 59% decline in total sperm count over a nearly 40-year period ending in 2011.
Marijuana might raise sperm count – while reducing sperm quality.
It should be noted that research into marijuana use and male fertility is relatively new, and many studies are ongoing. However, there seems to be clear evidence that marijuana use can have a negative impact on semen production as well as sperm health and motility.
Smoking marijuana does not guarantee you will be infertile, but if you smoke marijuana and you are having trouble conceiving – then there is a good chance that quitting marijuana may boost your chances.
Psychological effects of male infertility
Feelings of stress, depression, guilt, or anxiety in infertile men can cause psychogenic impotence, which heightens the feelings of inadequacy that already accompany infertility.
The psychological stress of infertility has been shown to affect sperm parameters in significant and demonstrable ways that may further contribute to difficulties with erectile potency; emotional reactions to the infertility may alter or even undermine a previous consolidation of a sense of self as sexually adequate. Infertility weighs on many males’ minds; this creates mental instability, which often results in impotence.
10 Ways You Can Improve Male Fertility
- Take D-Aspartic Acid Supplements
- Excercise Regularly
- Get Enough Vitamin C
- Relax – and Minimize Stress
- Take Vitamin D
- Try Tribulus Terrestris
- Fenugreek Supplements
- Get enough Zinc
- Get more sleep
- Take a semen supplement
You can improve your own fertility
Men should be aware that they often hold the key to their own fertility. First of all, you should keep in mind that fertility and libido usually go hand in hand with your general health. If you are eating well, exercising regularly, and making smart lifestyle choices (eg. avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol intake) – you will go a long way to keeping your reproductive system functioning and optimal capacity.
Numerous strategies can help improve your fertility, although this depends on its cause. Just remember that anything that improves your overall health is likely to boost your fertility at the same time. We encourage you to explore this site as we have a wealth of information on how you can increase semen production, boost sperm health and motility, and improve several aspects of your sexual performance and function!
PubMed.gov – Cannabis and Male Fertility
Medical News Today – “How Does Smoking Marijuana Affect Sperm”
“Stress linked to male fertility – Medical News Today”
“Male depression may lower pregnancy chances among infertile couples”