Smoking Marijuana Linked to Better Sperm Counts in Surprising Study

Smoking Marijuana Linked to Better Sperm Counts in Surprising Study

Despite previous findings, a new Harvard study indicates that men who smoke marijuana appear to have a higher sperm count than those who have never used cannabis at all-yet the finds are still very vague.

Prof Chavarro and colleagues looked at the effect of smoking an average of two joints a week among 662 subfertile men attending the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center between 2000 and 2017.

Additionally, researchers of the current study said the doses of marijuana used by participants may have varied from the doses of participants in past studies, therefore skewing the results.

The men who admitted to smoking marijuana at some point in their life seemed to have higher concentrations of sperm than those who had never had a puff.

It also didn't seem to matter whether the men had smoked in the past, or if they were current smokers, the difference remained the same. The biggest one is that the possible effects of cannabis on men visiting a fertility clinic (some of whom are likely infertile already) might not be representative of its effects on men in general.

"It is well-documented that within normal ranges, high testosterone levels are associated with greater engagement in risk-seeking behaviors, including drug use", Chavarro said. "Higher testosterone levels are also related to slightly higher semen quality and sperm counts".

According to the study, men who smoke weed have higher sperm count than those who do not.

In a statement, Chavarro said that the results can not be taken on face value and need to be "interpreted with caution".

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

Out of the group of participants, 55 percent reported having smoked marijuana at some point.

The study is published in Human Reproduction. The majority of the men participating had normal sperm counts, suggesting that other conception issues may have been the issue. 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. Despite its growing acceptance, relatively little is known about marijuana's effect on reproductive health.

It is estimated that 16.5% of adults in the US use marijuana, and support for legal recreational use of marijuana has increased dramatically in recent years.

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.

Interestingly, each additional year that had passed since a man last used marijuana was tied to a slight increase in sperm count.

"Our findings were contrary to what we hypothesized at the start of the study", study head author Feiby Nassan, a postdoctoral research partner at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, claimed in the statement. First, these findings are consistent with a U-shaped relation whereby low levels of cannabis use could benefit sperm production due to the well-known role played by the endocannabinoid system, but potential beneficial effects reverse at higher levels of use.

With these limitations in mind, it is clear more research must be done to truly understand how marijuana use can affect a person's sperm and, by default, their fertility.

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