Words By:Andrew Macfarlane a writer and budding horticulturalist.
Cannabis’s effect on sperm has been spoken about a lot, but actually, there is relatively little research on it. Before we go any further, the verdict is still out on most of these studies and a definite answer will take time to detect.
But for now, there are a number of early findings worth knowing.
High And Low Counts
There are two studies out at the moment that found two very different conclusions on the sperm counts of those who use marijuana.
According to the University of Copenhagen, in 2015 over 1,200 Danish men (aged 18-28) had their sperm analyzed. The researchers found those who consumed cannabis more than once a week had a 28% lower sperm concentration than the control group of non-smokers. When men had dabbled in other recreational drugs, their counts dropped to 52% lower than the control group. Overall, the study found there were substantial drops in sperm counts and motility for weed smokers.
This study was considered a medical certainty until February 2019, when Harvard Universityfound the exact opposite. Their test group were older men, averaging 36 years, who were also mostly white and college educated. The study did use a smaller test group, 662 men, taking 1,143 samples between 2000 – 2017.
The researchers asked those taking part in the study to answer a questionnaire about their marijuana use.
55% of the participants said they smoked weed at some point in their lives, 44% of this group had stopped usage, and 11% self-identified as using currently. When reviewing the research, the team found that those who had used and stopped had a higher average sperm count than those who had never smoked.
Or as the press release from Harvard says:
“Analysis of the semen samples showed that men who had smoked marijuana had average sperm concentrations of 62.7 million sperm per millilitre of ejaculate while men who had never smoked marijuana had average concentrations of 45.4 million sperm per millilitre of ejaculate. Only 5% of marijuana smokers had sperm concentrations below 15 million/mL (the World Health Organization’s threshold for “normal” levels) compared with 12% of men who had never smoked marijuana.”
The report also took blood tests and found that marijuana smokers who used the substance more frequently had higher blood testosterone levels.
THC Doesn’t Just Affect Brain
We all know tetrahydrocannabinol… THC…
Right, it’s the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. The chemical works on the endocannabinoid system, which is a complex network of receptors in your body that helps regulate and communicates with the brain, endocrine tissues (hormones), and the immune system.
This system is linked to our reproductive organs. High doses of THC have been linked to decreases in estrogen in women, which in turn has a knock on effect that stops ovulation, and without an egg, there’s no chance of fertilisation.
Currently, the above information is from one study and source. But the influence of THC on the endocannabinoid system is pretty concrete and has been shown to over hype sperm and cause them to burn out before being able to fertilise the egg.
If you are trying to conceive, just like drinking alcohol there are factors that will hamper your chances. But, on the other side of the coin, we all know of someone who was brought into this world due to a “fun night” in a hot tub somewhere. The same is true for cannabis at the moment.
According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, women who consumed marijuana weekly had 34% more sex, while the same was true of 22% of men. Having more sex will always better your chances of falling pregnant.
But, what all these studies conclude is that more research is needed on the matter.
Zootly says: “I asked my father where babies come from? He said from Storks. Which was very confusing for a young owl.”