Study says marijuana use does not lower sperm count

Published Apr 8, 2019 01:30 p.m. ET

Smoking marijuana is slowly becoming a more socially acceptable way to wind down at the end of a hard day now that pot is legal across Canada and in eight US states. The problem is that there has been very little research to show any potential risk factors that may be associated with either long- or short-term marijuana use. Because of that, every new study that emerges from is taken as fact when most are rarely peer reviewed or performed on a large number of people which would be needed for their results to be worth considering.

Previous studies done on marijuana use and its effects on sperm

Research on the subject has previously concluded that sperm are adversely affected by marijuana; some of these studies were published in the Journal of Epigenetics. One such study focused on 24 individuals and found that those who consumed THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) also had a lower number of sperm. Non-smoking participants had an average of twice as much sperm as those who used cannabis. It also implied that smoking marijuana would alter the genetic profile of the sperm themselves which are now being associated with cancers an abnormal growth. The only thing these researchers seemed unsure of was whether a lower count and changed genetics would affect the probability of fertilization which led to the recommendation that anyone trying to become pregnant should abstain from marijuana use for at least six months before attempting to conceive.

Newest study on marijuana and sperm

The most recent cannabis research on marijuana use and its potential effects on sperm count also investigated the genetic aspect of marijuana. 662 participants were registered at the General Hospital Fertility Center in Massachusetts. All of which were followed and tested from 2000-2017. Each person was asked to submit two semen samples during that time, and 317 of them provided complete blood samples. Since their study size was much larger and happened over an extended period, they were able to release several interesting findings that show that marijuana use may at least in some ways positively boost a man's sperm count. They found that men who admitted to smoking marijuana at any point in their lives had 62.7% more sperm than those who didn’t. Results also included the fact that subjects who were smoking marijuana currently had a significantly lower level of follicle stimulating hormones which were surprising because they had initially thought that those chemicals were critical to a man’s sperm production, density, and quality. Marijuana use was not found to be associated with other semen issues such as abnormal DNA markers.

Conclusion

The most important thing to look at when seeking reliable studies is the term length and the size of participants that were included. With marijuana use now being legal, there will be plenty more of these in-depth studies to look forward to in the very near future. In the meantime, it seems like smoking a joint will cause little to no harm to a couple that may be trying to conceive, but use your best judgment, and if it’s something of major concern to you, it is always best to speak to your healthcare provider for the best advice moving forward.

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