Study Links Smoking Marijuana With Higher Sperm Count

But it might as well be a chicken or the egg dilemma.
Jessica Miley

The media, your parents, and some non government organizations have likely given you a lot of reasons not to try drugs. To be fair, most of them are likely to be very sound and should be listened to attentively. But one old excuse might have been busted. A 2019 research from Harvard has found that smoking marijuana increases sperm count in males.

See also: Marijuana from an Engineering Perspective: What’s Really Going On?

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. The volunteers were asked whether they had ever smoked more than two joints or the equivalent amount of marijuana in their lives and if they were current smokers.

Smokers recorded higher sperm counts

Fifty-five percent of the men said they had smoked marijuana at some point, with 44 percent doing so in the past and 11 percent being current users. The surprising results of the study indicated that marijuana smokers had higher sperm counts than the men who had never used the drug.

The drugs users recorded an average count of 62.7 million sperm per millimeter compared to 45.4 million in the sober men. Additionally, only 5 percent of marijuana smokers had sperm counts below the level considered healthy by the World Health Organisation, whereas 12 percent of non-smokers did.

Higher testosterone linked to drug use

Blood tests of the subjects were also recorded with the smokers recording on average higher levels of testosterone than their counterparts. The researchers are quick to point out that despite the seemingly clear results, the research does have its limitations and that smoking pot shouldn’t be used as a fertility aid. There is also research contradictory with these findings, linking cannabis use with infertility.

“These unexpected findings highlight how little we know about the reproductive health effects of marijuana, and in fact of the health effects of marijuana in general,” explained study co-author Jorge Chavarro in a statement. “Our results need to be interpreted with caution, and they highlight the need to study the health effects of marijuana use further.”

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The study has flaws but provides a starting point

One key aspect of the study is that the men self-reported their drug use which makes it difficult to accurately assess the dosage levels as it's rather easy to misassess one's use or lie about it. The men enrolled in the study were all college-educated white males who enrolled in fertility clinics. To get a clearer picture, the study would need to be redone using a broader and more diverse sample pool — not to mention more reliable assessment methods — to get truly scientifically viable results.

"Our findings were contrary to what we initially hypothesized,” said lead author Feiby Nassan. “However, they are consistent with two different interpretations, the first being that low levels of marijuana use could benefit sperm production because of its effect on the endocannabinoid system, which is known to play a role in fertility, but those benefits are lost with higher levels of marijuana consumption."

Do smokers get higher testosterone as a result of smoking or are people with higher testosterone levels more likely to smoke?

“An equally plausible interpretation is that our findings could reflect the fact that men with higher testosterone levels are more likely to engage in risk-seeking behaviors, including smoking marijuana," he continued.

There's also another study review from 2019 which looks at 48 different studies on the matter. This particular study associated cannabis use with morphological abnormalities (deformities in shape) in sperm cells in both human and animal models. And it doesn't just end there, the same study also found that it also affects sperm motility (meaning its ability to swim).

The Harvard team summarizes their research saying that it might be true that moderate marijuana use may improve testicular function, but any benefits are likely to disappear at higher doses.

In conclusion, smoking pot won’t turn you into a baby-making machine; but, if you happen to be an owner of a penis and you are legally allowed to enjoy cannabis, a little bit might help you get started.

But hey, let's be honest, managing your sleep well, not using tobacco or alcohol and similar lifestyle changes that promote general wellbeing are likely to do more good to you and your reproductive health.

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