Study Finds Marijuana May Lower Sperm Count

Marijuana advocates often like to tout the health benefits of medical marijuana and general marijuana use. They say it can help with pain and inflammation, and there is even a growing body of evidence to suggest that marijuana can help alleviate the symptoms of severe seizures. However, according to a recently published study, there is one health-related side effect that marijuana users might meet with mixed reactions: lower sperm count.

The study looked at 1,215 Danish men aged between 18 and 28 years old from 2008 to 2012 while the subjects were attending a mandatory health examination for military service. Subjects provided a blood sample, a semen sample and underwent a physical examination.

Researchers asked the participants a number of questions regarding health and lifestyle, including questions about marijuana use and other recreational drugs within the past three months. The participants were split into three groups: no use, use once per week or less and use more than once per week.

Out of all the participants, 45 percent reported marijuana use of some kind. Researchers found that participants who used marijuana more than once a week had a 28 percent lower sperm count than those that did not. They also found marijuana users who partook more than once a week had a 29 percent lower sperm concentration, which is slightly different than sperm count.

Participants that used marijuana more than once a week and used other recreational drugs were found to have an even lower sperm count and concentration. Those subjects were found to have aa 55 percent lower sperm count and a 52 percent lower sperm concentration.

“Our findings are of public interest as marijuana use is common and may be contributing to recent reports of poor semen quality,” researchers explained.

Interestingly enough, marijuana use among women may also lower male fertility.

“When women smoke marijuana, nicotine, or other drugs, their reproductive fluids contain these drugs,” said Dr. Lani J. Burkman. “The woman smoking marijuana is putting THC into her oviduct, into her cervix. If the man is not smoking but the woman is, his sperm go into her body and hit THC in the vagina, oviduct, and uterus. Her THC is changing his sperm.”

As alarming as these findings may sound, a little context is needed to understand the scope of these results.

For example, a 2013 study found that men who watched television for 20 hours a week have almost half the sperm count of men who watch very little television. On the flip side of that, men who exercise for 15 or more hours a week have a 73 percent higher sperm count than those men that do not exercise.

While marijuana may lower sperm count and sperm concentration in regular users, a good number of other activities do as well, but leading a healthy and active lifestyle may be the best counteraction.

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