Study Finds Cannabis Might Not Lower Sperm Count After All

Ebony Scott
February 10, 2019

Researchers investigating the effect of cannabis smoking on men's testicular function have made the unexpected discovery that it is linked to higher sperm counts and higher testosterone levels among moderate users compared to men who never smoked it.

According to the study, men who smoke weed have higher sperm count than those who do not. The researchers also studied blood samples provided by 317 men, in order to quantify the levels of reproductive hormones.

They are said to have had 63 million sperm per milliliter of semen whereas the 297 men who reported never smoking cannabis only had 45 million per milliliter.

Only five per cent of cannabis smokers had estimated sperm concentrations below 15 million/mL - the World Health Organisation's threshold for "normal" levels.

For the new study, investigators collected 1,143 semen samples from 662 men between 2000 and 2017.

None of these limitations or considerations invalidate study's findings, it's just a sign, as Chavarro said, that we need to study cannabis more (the fact that cannabis is still considered more unsafe than opioids by the USA government remains a roadblock to that research, incidentally).

"Our results need to be interpreted with caution, and they highlight the need to further study the health effects of marijuana use". Previous studies have also found evidence that marijuana can have adverse effects on reproductive health, however, they found that the opposite is the case.

The first author of the study, Dr Feiby Nassan, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: "Our findings were contrary to what we hypothesised at the start of the study".

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A long-term study from Harvard University has now placed this past research on even shakier ground, tipping the equation in the exact opposite direction.

"There is a danger that those with higher sperm counts may have "bigged up" their drug taking in order to have appeared more macho". One 2014 study surveyed almost 2,000 British men and found that men under 30 with less than four per cent normal sperm were twice as likely to have used marijuana in the past three months.

A new study suggests that cannabis does effect your sperm, but maybe not in the way you might think. He also points out that semen quality is not necessarily a predictor of how easily or quickly a couple can get pregnant and that "these findings should not be interpreted as implying better fertility with cannabis use".

Although men who had smoked pot at some point in their lives had higher sperm numbers, the study did not look at cause and effect. Since marijuana was still illegal in MA at that time, it's possible that many test subjects under-reported or even lied about their cannabis consumption during the trial. It's true that marijuana acts on the endocannabinoid system, which is known to play a role in fertility, so the authors say there could be some benefit to sperm production from low levels of marijuana use.

"So, the relations we see between cannabis smoking, sperm counts and testosterone levels are because men with higher testosterone, within normal levels, have higher sperm counts and are more likely to smoke cannabis".

Whether smoking marijuana affects sperm quality and quantity or not is a controversial topic, he said, and too few studies have been conducted to provide a concrete answer.

Of all those who participated, 55 percent had smoked marijuana before - 44 percent of those men had tried it in the past, while 11 percent were current marijuana smokers.

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