Does Smoking Pot Lower Your Sperm Count?

Recreational marijuana use is becoming increasingly legal across the world, but there's still much about this plant that we don't know. As with alcohol and tobacco, the herb comes with some health risks that you would want to monitor.

sperm count

A new study shows that regular marijuana consumption may affect a man’s sperm count and vitality

While studies have ranged from just 24 participants up to 600, researchers have found that higher concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in urine corresponded to a lower sperm count (THC is the compound in marijuana responsible for the drug’s high). Studies have also found that pot smokers had changes in their sperm genetic profile that, in other studies, have been associated with abnormal growth and cancer.

The researchers found that the men who smoked marijuana had epigenetic changes in their sperm DNA involving hundreds of genes and two important regulatory pathways: one for helping bodily organs reach their full size; the other for basic growth during development. Several kinds of cancer are associated with the interference of these pathways, though this study did not find a specific link between marijuana use and cancer

“In the absence of a larger, definitive study, the best advice would be to assume these changes are going to be there [in sperm],” said lead author Susan Murphy, the chief of the Division of Reproductive Sciences in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. “I would say, as a precaution, stop using cannabis for at least six months before trying to conceive.”

Although many studies have established that cannabis can negatively impact the potency of your sperm, some articles state the opposite. 

A study from February 2019 has established that men who consume cannabis actually have higher sperm counts. After studying 1 143 semen samples from roughly 650 patients, the researchers were able to present their findings. 

Along with various questionnaires on cannabis use and a few blood samples, it was seen that cannabis smokers can significantly higher sperm concentrations. 62.7 million sperm per millilitre of ejaculate in those who smoked as opposed to 45.4 million in the non-smokers. 

However, there is no real need to stress either. Both of these levels are considered normal levels by the World Health Organisation. The research found that only 5% of cannabis smokers were under the ‘normal’ levels of potency. 

It would seem that more research needs to be conducted on this topic in order to establish which side of the argument has got it right. You can play it safe and consume less in times where you need the potency. If you haven’t got any plans, you might get away with smoking as much as you want. 

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