Posted on Feb 13, 2019, 5 p.m.
The science on cannabis and its effects on male fertility have just went up in smoke. Recent research from Harvard indicates contrary to popular belief that cannabis may increase sperm count and not reduce it, published in the journal Human Reproduction.
Cannabis is arguably the most common drug around the globe, legalization has led many academics and health experts to revisit its impact on human health. This new study suggests that men can get more spunk from their junk with some skunk.
Harvard University’s latest long term study involved semen samples from 662 men over the timeframe of 17 years showed that those who reported smoking marijuana at least once in their lives had higher concentrations of sperm than those who reported abstaining. At one point or another some 55% of the participants reported smoking cannabis, of which 11% were current pot smokers. 317 participants also provided blood samples to be analyzed for reproductive hormones; serum testosterone levels were noted to be highest among the weed smoking group.
"Unexpected findings such as these highlight how little is known about the reproductive health effects of cannabis, and in fact the health effects of cannabis in general", says Jorge Chavarro.
Results should be interpreted with caution as the researchers note that further study is required on the health effects of cannabis. This study did have caveats such as most of the men were white, college educated, and had a mean age of 36. Some of the men asked if they had smoked more than two joints in their lives may have been seeking fertility treatment and may not have wanted to disclose whether they were taking any drugs that could have potentially impacted the fertility treatments they were taking. Demographics of this study did not accurately represent the wider US population. In addition, while cannabis does interact with the endocannabinoid system there is wasn’t a clear causal link, and there are other factors that may explain some of the findings.
Feiby Nassan adds that another plausible interpretation could be that men with higher testosterone levels are more likely to engage in risk seeking behaviours such as smoking cannabis.
A 2015 study found that Danish men who smoked more than once a week had lower sperm counts, and another study found that THC can alter sperm DNA and structure in 2018; both of which are not exactly ideal if trying to conceive.
The researchers are not exactly saying to go ahead a spark one up for fertility purposes, but apparently it will not harm their chances of producing offspring either, leaving another topic up for debate.
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