Cannabis and The Sperm: What Men Should Know
Cannabis use has increased in recent years as several states have legalized this substance for medicinal and recreational use. Cannabis has demonstrated several potential benefits across numerous studies. However, researchers have also identified various risks associated with regular marijuana use. These risks exist whether a person smokes marijuana or consumes cannabis products such as cookies or candies. As a men’s health physician, Dr. Shridharani is especially interested in understanding how cannabis use may affect a man’s fertility. Here, we discuss what has been found through multiple international studies.
One of the risks of marijuana use that has been more openly discussed is reduced sperm count. This is only one factor that contributes to fertility. Others that can be affected by marijuana use include:
- Reduced sperm concentration
- Diminished sperm viability
- Decreased sperm motility
- Abnormal sperm morphology
- Lowered libido
- Erectile dysfunction
What Research Has to Say
Researchers have spent years evaluating the advantages and potential disadvantages of cannabis use. Several studies provide sufficient evidence to question the effects of this substance on a man’s reproductive health. In the area of sperm count and concentration, studies have found a reduction of nearly 30% among men who report using marijuana more than once a week. This reductive effect is significant not only for its decrease in sperm count but also because it can last as long as six weeks after cannabis use has ended.
Studies performed in the US and the UK suggest that sperm morphology, which is the shape of sperm, is affected by marijuana use. Men aged 30 and younger are especially likely to experience this change to sperm quality. Additionally, reduced sperm viability can decrease male fertility by shortening the life span of the sperm, narrowing the margin in which conception may occur. Research also indicates that the luteinizing hormone involved in regulating testosterone levels is reduced by cannabis use. Diminished testosterone can affect a man’s health in several ways. This reduction can allow estrogen dominance to occur. It lowers a man’s sex drive and contributes to erectile dysfunction. Seventy-eight percent of men in one study reported experiencing ED while regularly using cannabis, while only 3% did not.
As the use of cannabis continues to increase, it is important to measure benefits versus risks. For men who want to start a family, this substance seems to hold significant disadvantages that must be considered. If you are interested in testing to see where you stand in the area of male fertility, contact our Chattanooga office. We’re here to help.