Study Links Marijuana Use With Higher Sperm Counts

Maricruz Casares
Febrero 7, 2019

Does smoking cannabis affect your fertility? What's more, all the of the men were enrolled at a fertility clinic, meaning they were seeking medical help with their partners to try to get pregnant.

The Harvard researchers collected 1,143 health surveys and semen samples from more than 650 men between the years of 2000 and 2017.

In measuring the survey results with the semen sample analysis, the scientists found that those using marijuana tended to have higher sperm concentrations and counts than those who never smoked it.

Just over 50 per cent of the men reported using cannabis; half of these men reported using it in the past, while 11 per cent said they were current users.

According to the study, men who smoked marijuana had average sperm concentrations of 62.7 million sperm per milliliter of ejaculate while men who had never smoked marijuana had average concentrations of 45.4 million sperm per milliliter of ejaculate.

However, the effects of more moderate marijuana use on sperm counts among men is less clear.

The marijuana users were smoking relatively modest amounts of marijuana, two to three joints per week, on average.

United States lead researcher Dr Jorge Chavarro, from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said: "These 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".

When Dr. Jorge Chavarro's team started investigating marijuana's effects on sperm, they had every reason to believe weed would prove detrimental to "testicular function", because other studies had said it to be so.

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The study adds that men who smoke marijuana are also likely to engage in risky behavior, and those men have higher testosterone levels.

The men were, on average, 36 years old, mostly white and mostly university-educated.

There could be a non-causal explanation for the association, such as the effect of the male hormone testosterone on both sperm count and risk-taking behaviour such as smoking cannabis.

"Our findings were contrary to what we initially hypothesized".

Scientists analysed the sperm quality of regular cannabis smokers as well as non-smokers, with some unexpected results.

The participants in the new study self-reported their marijuana use, so the details they gave may not have been accurate.

On the other hand the association could have nothing to do with the effects of cannabis.

And rightfully so. In 2015, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology examined 1,215 healthy young men and found that those who used recreational marijuana a few times per week had lower sperm counts than those who used the substance less often or not at all. The men in that study who used marijuana at least once per week, in addition to other recreational drugs, had even lower sperm counts, the researchers found. Allan Pacey, professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield, U.K., authored a 2014 study suggesting that using cannabis can impact the size and shape of sperm, and in turn male fertility. However, they were shocked to find that those who smoked the drug - even if it was only once - had a higher fertility rate than those who did not.

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