Marijuana Appears to up Men’s Sperm Count

February 11, 2019

Smoking cannabis could boost a man’s sperm count, according to a study. However, experts have cautioned the results aren’t a green light to light up green.

As well as higher sperm counts, researchers found men who had smoked marijuana at least once had higher concentrations of sperm and lower serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. 

Smoking cannabis could boost a man’s sperm count, according to a study. However, experts have cautioned the results aren’t a green light to light up green.

As well as higher sperm counts, researchers found men who had smoked marijuana at least once had higher concentrations of sperm and lower serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. High FSH levels are linked to fertility problems in men.

Since 2012, nine states (and Washington) have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and attitudes towards the drug have relaxed. The authors of a study published in the journal Human Reproduction wrote of “a growing perception that marijuana poses few health hazards and with increased legalization and decriminalization of recreational marijuana use worldwide.”

However, it’s unclear whether using cannabis helps or hinders a man’s chances of conceiving. Some studies indicate that using cannabis can harm the creation of sperm, while others suggest men who use the substance have higher levels of testosterone: the hormone involved in making the reproductive cells. With their paper, the scientists hoped to answer whether the drug negatively impacts sperm.

The team assessed data on 622 men, with an average age of 36, who visited Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center between 2000 and 2017. In total, the men gave 1,143 semen samples. The researchers also studied blood samples provided by 317 men, in order to quantify the levels of reproductive hormones. The men also answered lifestyle questions including whether they used marijuana or other drugs: 55 percent had smoked cannabis at least once; 44 percent were past users; and 11 percent current.

Researchers found participants who had smoked marijuana at least once had higher sperm concentration, counts, and lower FSH concentrations compared with those who had never used the drug. At the same time, they didn’t spot a difference in the sperm concentrations of men who used marijuana at the time of the questionnaire and those who had used it in the past.

However the authors wrote that their findings may not relate to the general population, and said their study was limited by the fact they relied on the men reporting their use of cannabis accurately.

Jorge Chavarro, study author and associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard Chan School, commented: “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.”

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