Researchers and infertility specialists still have a lot of questions about marijuana and male fertility.
Marijuana continues to pop up in the mainstream consciousness as more and more states allow recreational sales of the drug. Locally, Louisiana’s legislature approved marijuana for medicinal-only purposes which went into effect in 2019. The law allows people with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, seizure disorders, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy and other diseases, to use medicinal-grade marijuana to alleviate symptoms.
If you are a marijuana user or proponent, this is all good news. With increasing legalization, it is likely that more and more patients who use marijuana either medicinally or recreationally will be attempting to have children.
But there are many questions surrounding how marijuana use affects your fertility, particularly in men.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine notes that there have been just a few clinical studies conducted on the use of marijuana and fertility. And the results seem to be all over the place.
Most studies suggest that cannabis use has a detrimental impact on male fertility. A 2015 Danish study found that Danish men who smoked marijuana more than once a week had lower sperm counts. From this research, marijuana appears to have negative effects on sperm count, sperm morphology, and sperm motility – all of which are important for getting pregnant.
In addition, a later study found that marijuana’s active ingredient, THC, can change the structure and development of a sperm’s DNA. A particularly concerning study found that a specific gene associated with autism appears to undergo changes in the sperm of men who use marijuana. Whether those changes can be passed on to a child remains unknown, but for now, some researchers are warning that men in their childbearing years should consider how weed might impact their fertility and possibly their offspring.
Still other studies lead researchers in the opposite direction. A recent Harvard University study found that men who admitted to smoking marijuana at some point in their life seemed to have higher concentrations of sperm than those who had never had a puff.
There’s also a lot of controversy over marijuana’s impact on testosterone levels. When it’s time to start a family, testosterone is something to be aware of as testosterone is a key hormone in sperm production. Studies report that marijuana increases testosterone and other sex hormones and then it causes a sudden testosterone drop, well below normal levels. Though much more clinical research is needed to understand just how marijuana impacts basic reproductive functions, the sudden spikes and dips in hormones seen among marijuana smokers may be partly to blame for low counts.
Eliminating marijuana seems to have positive effects on fertility
The good news is that most studies suggest the effects of marijuana on sperm aren’t permanent. If you’re worried about marijuana damaging your sperm quality or sperm count, try taking a break for a few months. And if that’s not an option, there are many other ways to try boosting your sperm count, ranging from advanced medical treatments to simple lifestyle changes.
As we wait for more research to be conducted on marijuana and male fertility, the important thing is not to give up or get discouraged. Millions of couples have had perfectly healthy babies after struggling to conceive for months or even years. Let our experienced and knowledgeable infertility specialists at our Louisiana fertility clinics help you along your journey.