Medicine

Study finds men who smoke weed to be more fertile

Study finds men who smoke weed to be more fertile

A new study suggests men who have smoked cannabis in the past may have a higher sperm count than men who haven't used the drug.

One explanation is that the men in the study who smoked marijuana already had higher sperm counts than those who did not. About half of the men in the sample had also gotten a blood test, allowing the researchers to look at their levels of hormones such as testosterone.

The results showed that those who smoked marijuana had an average sperm concentration of 62.7 million sperm per millilitre (million/mL). In the previously mentioned 2015 study, the men who used recreational marijuana a few times per week had lower sperm counts and lower sperm concentrations than the men who used marijuana less often.

Past studies have claimed that using the drug could lower a man's sperm count.

None of these limitations or considerations invalidate study's findings, it's just a sign, as Chavarro said, that we need to study cannabis more (the fact that cannabis is still considered more risky than opioids by the USA government remains a roadblock to that research, incidentally).

In this study, for instance, cannabis users were also more likely to have higher testosterone levels, which can affect sperm count. Previous studies have also found evidence that marijuana can have adverse effects on reproductive health, however, they found that the opposite is the case.

Numerous older studies had focused on animal models or had examined men with histories of drug abuse.

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"We spent a good two months redoing everything, making sure that there wasn't any error in the data", said co-author Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "We know a lot less than we think we know". There are several limitations to the study, which could raise the possibility that their results are not explained by a true underlying biological mechanism, but are spurious associations.

And rightfully so. In 2015, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology examined 1,215 healthy young men and found that those who used recreational marijuana a few times per week had lower sperm counts than those who used the substance less often or not at all. He also points out that semen quality is not necessarily a predictor of how easily or quickly a couple can get pregnant and that "these findings should not be interpreted as implying better fertility with cannabis use".

'Moreover, nor does it give support to any apparent fertility benefits of smoking marijuana.

The endocannabinoid chemical messenger system in the brain, which is targeted by the drug, is known to play a role regulating fertility. They believe that some might have underreported their habits considering that marijuana was illegal for most of the study period.

In the latest study, published Tuesday in Human Reproduction, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and elsewhere looked at a specific group of men: fertility clinic patients. Among men who never smoked marijuana, 12 percent had lower-than-normal sperm concentrations. "For example, 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".

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.