In recent years, the use of cannabis has risen across the country. Many states have legalized its use for recreational and medical purposes. This comes with some unique benefits, as well as some challenges. Studies have indicated that, with proper use, cannabis can provide various advantages. Consumers must also understand, however, that there are risks. Diminished male fertility may be one of them.
Male fertility involves much more than sperm count. This aspect of a man’s health is multi-factorial. Studies indicate that marijuana use could affect fertility in several ways, including:
- Reducing sperm count
- Reducing sperm concentration
- Provoking hormonal changes
- Disrupting sperm morphology and motility
- Interrupting sexual performance and lowering libido
- Diminishing sperm viability
What the Data Show
Researchers have studied the effects of cannabis use for several years now. Several studies have identified that sperm contain cannabinoid receptors, which means there is a potential for direct disruption of some sort as a result of cannabis use. Studies have also found that men who use marijuana have lower sperm counts and concentration. How much? Sperm count and concentration can decrease by nearly 30% using marijuana more than once a week. Not only does marijuana decrease these factors, but it can do so for up to six weeks after a man has stopped using this substance.
Studies conducted in the US and the UK have indicated a connection between marijuana use and sperm shape (morphology). This is especially notable in men 30 or younger and often coincides with shorter sperm life (viability). Research has also found a reduction in luteinizing hormone, which is involved in male fertility through the regulation of testosterone levels, among men who use cannabis. Lowered testosterone can affect not only sperm health but sex drive and performance. In one study, 78% of men who reported experiencing erectile dysfunction also reported frequent marijuana use. Only 3% of participants who experienced ED did not use cannabis. Finally, the longer marijuana use continues, the greater the risk of testicular atrophy. This condition may be directly related to damage in the seminiferous tubes that produce sperm.
The choice to use cannabis is entirely up to the individual. Men who are interested in starting a family in the near future should know the impact their marijuana use could have on fertility. Testing can measure the factors involved in male fertility and set a man on the right path toward building his future.