Does Marijuana Affect Sperm Count?
As marijuana becomes legal and more widely accepted for therapeutic and medical uses, more studies regarding the health effects of cannabis on the human body are becoming available.
The calming and relaxing effects of marijuana are well known, but do those properties extend to the sperm of men who smoke cannabis? Does marijuana use make your sperm lazy and ineffective?
While studies are currently limited, research shows that smoking marijuana does play a role in fertility and affects reproductive health, sperm count, concentration, sperm motility, and sperm quality.
More generations frequently smoke marijuana, so it is crucial to understand its relation to human reproduction and male infertility.
The Link Between Cannabis and Sperm
The human body has a system of nerve receptors that marijuana binds to throughout the body, including male reproductive organs, called the endocannabinoid system.
In men, endocannabinoid receptors are present in the testicles, which produce sperm and reproductive hormones. Furthermore, fat cells that contribute to phases of sperm production absorb cannabis and affect some aspects of the sperm cells.
On average, it takes 74 days for sperm to reach maturity, so if a man is trying to conceive, experts recommend abstaining from marijuana for at least that long to ensure any affected sperm are out of your system.
Does Marijuana Kill Sperm?
Marijuana does not kill sperm because the body still produces sperm, but it affects semen quality and fertility. Whether smoked or ingested through edibles, the quality and viability of the sperm produced are affected by cannabis.
Marijuana Effects on Sperm
Motility, or the movement of sperm, is an integral part of fertility because it propels the semen towards the egg for fertilization. If the sperm cannot reach the ovum, no conception will happen.
Research has shown that chronic weed users have higher testosterone levels and sperm counts but lower sperm motility. The higher the levels of marijuana present in the body, the lower the motility.
The other constant observation in semen samples of marijuana users is that the sperm quality, precisely the shape, is compromised.
The head of the sperm, which contains the DNA and is responsible for penetrating the egg, is often misshapen in cannabis users. If misshapen sperm reach the egg, they are unlikely to fertilize it successfully.
Does Marijuana Use Affect Male Fertility?
Regular marijuana use hurts male fertility. Duke University discovered it affects the epigenetics of sperm. That means the way the genes inside the sperm bond with the DNA in an egg is changed.
Scientist and lead author Dr. Susan Murphy notes that more studies are needed but uncovered a consistent link between male marijuana users and autism and developmental delays in their children.
A follow-up study by Dr. Murphy noted that after 77 days or more of not using cannabis, the sperm produced was almost entirely back to normal, suggesting no long-term fertility effects once a person quit using marijuana.
Studies on Marijuana Use
One of the reasons there are very few definitive studies about marijuana use and infertility is the unreliability of the subjects.
Unlike other popular drugs that specific ethnic groups or social classes favor, people from all demographics use marijuana. Without extensive genetic testing and background information, it is impossible to rule out other contributing factors.
Until recently, weed was illegal in the United States, making many scientists reluctant to study it and more people unwilling to admit they use it for fear of repercussion. The same fear of legal issues and judgment might have caused participants to under-report their marijuana use or lie about using other substances besides cannabis.
A study conducted by Harvard found that self-reported cannabis smokers had higher testosterone levels, but researchers don’t attribute that to the drug.
Instead, the study’s lead author, Feiby Nassan, stated, “An equally plausible interpretation is that our findings could reflect the fact that men with higher testosterone levels are more likely to engage in risk-seeking behaviors, including smoking marijuana.”
Another researcher in the same Harvard study pointed out that many cannabis users are polydrug users, meaning they use multiple drugs, including alcohol, often simultaneously.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology expanded on this idea and found that men who smoked marijuana in the last three months had higher caffeine intake, higher stress levels, and higher use of other recreational drugs.
Getting Help for Substance Abuse
While the notion that marijuana is a gateway drug is a myth, studies have found that many people who struggle with substance abuse smoke cannabis in addition to other drugs or turn to marijuana to help with anxiety and withdrawal symptoms from other drugs.
Whether you have been using marijuana to replace other drugs or simultaneously with other substances, help to quit safely is available.
Northridge Addiction Treatment Center is a private and peaceful residential substance abuse treatment facility providing compassionate, evidence-based care in a family environment surrounded by support.
NATC offers catered meals, several diet plans, and a pool with a hot tub to help you relax, all while surrounded by the beauty of Los Angeles’s neighboring mountains.
Our licensed, professional staff teaches you essential strategies to learn healthy ways of coping with addiction and managing it successfully.
Reclaim your life with Northridge Addiction Treatment Center. Call now to speak with one of our compassionate treatment specialists.
Find Meaningful Recovery
Our caring and compassionate specialists are eager to help you comfortably navigate this journey to recovery. Our individualized treatment plan, programs, and therapies may be a perfect match for you or your loved one. Let us assist you in living the happy life you deserve. It starts with a phone call.