Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Cannabis Consumers Have Higher Sperm Counts, Harvard Study Finds

Cannabis Consumers Have Higher Sperm Counts, Harvard Study Finds

The researchers expected that smoking cannabis would be associated with worse semen quality, as historical studies had suggested the drug has negative effects on reproductive health.

The team of researchers led by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health collected semen samples from 662 men between 2000 and 2017 with an average age of 36. During the study the participants answered survey questions about how often they consumed marijuana or used other drugs, they also were required to provide blood and urine samples.

Researchers have investigated whether using cannabis affects a man's fertility.

Participants were also asked to complete a questionnaire about their marijuana use, including if they had ever smoked more than two joints - or the equivalent amount of marijuana in their life - and if they were current marijuana smokers. Allan Pacey, professor of andrology at the University of Sheffield, U.K., authored a 2014 study suggesting that using cannabis can impact the size and shape of sperm, and in turn male fertility. This system sends signals to the brain and these signals may play a role in fertility, they explain.

"The relations we see between cannabis smoking, sperm counts and testosterone levels are because men with higher testosterone, within normal levels, have higher sperm counts and are more likely to smoke cannabis", she said.

Those who never smoked cannabis had an average sperm count of 45.4 million/mL. He said: 'As the authors point out, men with higher sperm concentrations are likely to have more testosterone in their bodies and thus may be more likely to smoke marijuana because simply they are willing to take more risks. It's also possible that some men in the study underreported their marijuana use, "given its status as an illegal drug during most of the study, its social stigma, and potential effects on insurance coverage for infertility services", they wrote.

Regardless of why this connection exists, the authors say it's important to study further-especially since an estimated 16.5% of USA adults use marijuana and that recreational use of the drug will likely be legalized in more states in the coming months and years.

"We spent a good two months redoing everything, making sure that there wasn't any error in the data", said Dr Jorge Chavarro of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. For men who smoke marijuana and are planning on having children, the advice keeps getting more confusing.

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However, the new experiment, published Feb.6 in the issue of Journal Human Reproduction, does not urge men to start smoking the plant to up their sperm count. In fact, this group was more than twice as likely to drop below the World Health Organisation's threshold for "normal" sperm levels.

"These findings do not mean that using marijuana will increase sperm counts".

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) - Forget the mellow slacker image - pot smoking might actually make men more potent.

Chavarro also went on to point out that if the study proves anything definitive, it is that the link between marijuana and general health remains something of a grey area.

Despite the surprising results, experts say that much more research must be conducted before reaching a definitive conclusion.

However the authors wrote that their findings may not relate to the general population, and said their study was limited by the fact they relied on the men reporting their use of cannabis accurately.

"Our findings were contrary to what we initially hypothesized".

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