Increased use and legalization of cannabis especially the medical marijuana has made the researchers study more about its effect on health. One of the interesting parts of the research is about the effect of marijuana on fertility. According to the latest research, men living in Western countries are currently facing fertility issues. Between 1973 and 2011 sperm count in the reproductive age of men became more than half.
As per Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, around 9 percent of men in the United States is currently facing the issue of infertility. Therefore, researchers have been taking a gander at how unique modifiable factors, such as lifestyle choices, may influence male fertility.
In another study, a group of investigators from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, have focused on the effects that smoking marijuana has on markers of male fertility.
The researchers’ findings, published in the journal of Human Reproduction, runs counter to the hypothesis they made before starting the study. “[The] unexpected findings highlight how little we know about the reproductive health effects of marijuana and, in fact, of the health effects of marijuana in general,” notes study author Jorge Chavarro. He further explained: “Our results need to be interpreted with caution, and they highlight the need to further study the health effects of marijuana use.”
More sperm production due to marijuana
The research group speculated that men who either smoked or had smoked cannabis would have poor sperm quality. Be that as it may, that is not the conclusion that this study came up to. In their research, the investigators enlisted 662 men who went to the Fertility Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston somewhere between 2000 and 2017. On average men were of 36 years old, white, and had a college education.
To assess sperm quality, the researchers gathered and broke down 1,143 semen samples from the study participants. They also took blood samples from 317 of the men. The group used the blood samples to test for reproductive hormones. Also, the researchers asked the men to fill in questionnaires asking them about their use of marijuana, including whether they had ever smoked multiple times and whether they still used marijuana.
The group found that 365 (or 55 percent) of the participants had smoked marijuana at some point in their lives. Of these individuals, 44 percent never again used this substance, while 11 percent self-recognized as present smokers. During the analysis, the researchers observed that men who had used marijuana had higher normal sperm concentrations than nonsmokers.
More specifically, marijuana users had a normal sperm count of 62.7 million for each milliliter of discharge, whereas their peers who had never smoked marijuana had 45.4 million sperm for each milliliter of discharge. The researchers also observed that among cannabis smokers, just 5 percent had sperm concentrations underneath 15 million sperm for every milliliter of discharge while 12 percent of non-smokers had sperm concentrations below this amount.
Findings consistent with interpretations
Another finding revealed in the study shows that cannabis smokers who used the substance more frequently generally had higher blood testosterone levels. Still, the researchers say that their results may not have any significant effect on the general male populace since the study focused specifically on men seeking treatment at a fertility hospital.
The authors suggest that their findings interact well with cannabis impact on the human endocannabinoid system, which responds to the active compounds present in this substance.
Lead author Feiby Nassan said: “Our findings were contrary to what we initially hypothesized. However, they are consistent with two different interpretations, the first being that low levels of marijuana use could benefit sperm production because of its effect on the endocannabinoid system, which is known to play a role in fertility, but those benefits are lost with higher levels of marijuana consumption.”
Nassan further added, “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.”