Occasional cannabis may boost men's fertility, new study suggests

Alicia Farmer
February 7, 2019

A bunch of scientists gathered sperm counts from 662 men who visited a fertility clinic with their significant other and they were shocked to find that participants who took marijuana at some point in their life have higher sperm count than others.

Dr Jorge Chavarro said the findings were unexpected - and highlight how little is known "about the reproductive health effects of marijuana, and in fact the health effects of marijuana in general". For example, in 2015, researchers from Denmark found that men who smoked marijuana a couple of times per week had sperm counts that were almost 30 percent lower than those who didn't smoke marijuana, or those who used the drug less frequently.

Previous studies have linked heavy cannabis use to lower testosterone levels and a decline in both sperm production and quality.

However, some researchers say that men with naturally higher testosterone levels are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviours - meaning they are more likely to have tried cannabis.

"An equally important limitation is the fact that most of the data were collected while cannabis was illegal in MA, so it is hard to know to what extent men may have under-reported use of cannabis because of social stigma or potential consequences related to insurance coverage for infertility services", he said.

KFSN reports the study looked at the sperm samples of more than 600 men over a 17 year period, finding that those who admitted to smoking weed had a higher sperm count. The findings held even after the researchers took into account some factors that could have affected sperm concentration, such as age, cigarette smoking and alcohol use.

A normal sperm count is at least 15 million/mL, according to the World Health Organization.

The marijuana users were smoking relatively modest amounts of marijuana, two to three joints per week, on average.

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Experts believe there may be a link between moderate cannabis use and how that can benefit the male's reproductive system.

Marijuana is the most commonly used drug worldwide, but even as access to legal weed improves, researchers are still teasing out the long-term health outcomes.

"Our findings were contrary to what we hypothesized at the start of the study", study lead author Feiby Nassan, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in the statement. Now, researchers at Harvard have found an unexpected side effect of smoking pot - it appears to increase sperm count.

"Our results need to be interpreted with caution and they highlight the need to further study the health effects of marijuana use", he added.

For now, there's just not enough evidence to make any conclusions about the use of marijuana on male sperm.

"There is a danger that those with higher sperm counts may have "bigged up" their drug taking in order to have appeared more macho". Vij said she wondered if "there's something that goes along with marijuana use" that's tied to better sperm production.

"An equally important limitation is the fact that most of the data were collected while cannabis was illegal in MA, so it is hard to know to what extent men may have under-reported use of cannabis because of social stigma or potential consequences related to insurance coverage for infertility services", Chavarro told Fox News.

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