Based on the availability of contemporary research data, the impact of cannabis use on male fertility is still largely inconclusive.
In this article, we discuss relevant contemporary research relating to the topic. We’ll also discuss whether “marijuana infertility” is truly a concern. Read on to find out more.
The answer may shock you!…
What About Male Fertility? Does Cannabis Reduce Sperm Count?
For decades, there has been an ongoing discussion regarding cannabis and infertility. Numerous anecdotal outlets have cited decreased fertility rates among cannabis users (especially a decline in sperm count in males), but is there any clinical or scientific evidence to back up these claims?
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2015 appears to suggest that it can. The study observed over 1,200 Danish men aged 18-28, 45% of which had smoked cannabis in the previous three months. Twenty-eight percent of study participants used marijuana more than once a week. The study discovered that those who used cannabis regularly had a 29% reduction in sperm count.
Another interesting publication on the broader topic of weed and infertility appeared in 2018 in the peer-reviewed academic journal Fertility and Sterility.
There is a body of evidence suggesting that marijuana causes infertility. However, even more concerning is relatively recent research that suggests that fertility, especially in males — may be declining overall.
Fact: Infertility means that you have been unable to have a child naturally after a year of trying (or 6 months if you are over the age of 35). With the proper treatment, the majority of people go on to have children.
Fact: It’s common for people to think of infertility as a female problem, but only 35% of infertility cases are caused solely by female factors. Another 35% results from factors in the male reproductive system, 20% come from both, and 10% are undetermined.
Fact: While some men can father children into their 50’s or 60’s, male fertility isn’t age-proof. Men see a decline in fertility in their 40s, and also have been found to be at increased risk of offspring with certain health conditions, like schizophrenia.
Infertility Myth #10: Infertility means you can’t have a child.
Fact: Alcohol can increase the risk of birth defects once a woman becomes pregnant and can cause a collection of birth defects known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). There is no known “safe” amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy, so it is generally recommended that women avoid alcohol in pregnancy.
Fact: According to a report from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes, some patients have a better than 50/50 chance of fathering a child after a vasectomy reversal. The longer a man waits to have a reverse vasectomy, however, the lower the odds.
Fact: Smoking marijuana, even infrequently, can dramatically affect sperm and egg quality, which can have a dramatic impact on fertility.
Fact: Relaxation alone won’t help anyone become a parent. One or both partners may have a correctable medical condition that stands in the way of conception. If there’s no obvious physical explanation for infertility, a doctor can still suggest lifestyle changes that could boost the odds of conception.
When it comes to romance, timing is everything. That holds true for fertility, too, says Celia E. Dominguez, MD, of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Emory University, Atlanta.
Burkman announced the findings at this week’s meeting of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
Marijuana-smoking college men volunteered for the study led by Lani J. Burkman, PhD, director of andrology at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Marijuana and Fertility Timing
“Marijuana-smoking men’s sperm are hyper. They are way out there,” Burkman tells WebMD. “They already have begun the vigorous swimming called hyperactivation. Sperm should be quiet at first. They should be waiting to be washed into cervix and approach the egg before they start hyperactivation.”
“It is not a head start. They are going to blow it,” Burkman says. “They’re too fast, too early. Each individual sperm can maintain this swimming only so long, only several hours. Then it poops out. If it has run out of hyperactivation before it gets close to the egg, it will not fertilize. These sperm are going to burn out.”
Burkman’s team studied only men. But she says that when women smoke marijuana, the active ingredient — THC — appears in their reproductive organs and vaginal fluids. Sperm exposed to this THC are likely to act just as sperm exposed to THC in the testes.
Of course, men who smoke marijuana do get women pregnant. But some men are more fertile than others, or are more fertile at different times of their lives. Smoking marijuana, Burkman warns, will make a borderline-infertile man frankly infertile.