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Does smoking marijuana increase male fertility?
Doctors have now found that smoking cannabis can be linked to improved fertility in men. This effect also seems to persist if those affected have stopped using it for a long time.
In their current research, scientists from internationally recognized Harvard University found that smoking cannabis appears to be linked to improved fertility in men. The researchers published the results of their study in the English-language journal “Human Reproduction”.
What do the results have to do with testosterone?
For their study, the doctors examined the sperm count of more than 600 men who had visited a fertility clinic. The experts actually expected that cannabis would affect sperm count and fertility. Instead, participants who admitted that they had ever taken the drug had higher sperm counts than non-users. This finding does not necessarily mean that smoking cannabis increases the chances of fatherhood, the researchers say. However, the scientists point out that the association may not have a cause-effect relationship, but rather reflects the influence of the male hormone testosterone on both sperm count and risk behavior, such as smoking cannabis.
More research is needed
These unexpected results underscore how little is known about the effects of marijuana’s reproductive effects and actually about the health effects of marijuana in general, study author Dr. Jorge Chavarro of Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston in a press release. However, the results should be interpreted with caution. They underline the need to further investigate the health effects of marijuana use.
Samples from 662 subjects were examined
For their new study, the doctors examined a total of 1,143 semen samples from 662 men between 2000 and 2017. On average, the subjects were 36 years old, mostly white and had a college degree. All men lived in partnership and sought help from a fertility clinic to improve conception or fertility. The participants were asked to fill out various questionnaires, which also asked about their history of cannabis use, the scientists say.
Over half of the subjects had smoked cannabis before
More than half (55 percent) of men said they smoked cannabis at some point in their lives. 44 percent of respondents said they had used cannabis in the past and 11 percent were current users. Analysis of the semen samples showed that men who smoked marijuana had average sperm concentrations of 62.7 million sperm per milliliter (million / ml). However, if the subjects had never smoked cannabis, the average concentration was only 45.4 million / mL, the authors of the study explain. Only five percent of cannabis users had levels below 15 million sperm per milliliter, the level that the WHO considers normal. If men had never smoked cannabis, the levels here were low at twelve percent. In addition, increased cannabis use was associated with increased levels of the male hormone testosterone in cannabis smokers.
Possible explanations for the connection found?
It is possible that low cannabis exposure may promote sperm production in some way, the experts speculate. It is known that the chemical messenger system endocannabinoid in the brain that cannabis targets targets has a role in regulating fertility, doctors add. Another equally plausible interpretation is that the results may reflect the fact that men with high testosterone levels are more risk-taking, which could include marijuana use, says study author Dr. Feiby Nassan. (as)