Does smoking weed lead to fertility issues? While pot smokers routinely conceive children, just like anyone else, some studies are linking chronic cannabis use to diminished reproductive abilities in both men and women. Now, most dedicated pot users have already gained a healthy skepticism of ‘official’ scientific research when it comes to cannabis, and for good reason. But could there be a legitimate cause for concern if you’re trying to conceive?
College-aged men volunteered for a study back in 2003 at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. It found that men who smoked “had significantly lower semen volume” than the norm, said Lani J. Burkman, Ph.D., and leader of the study. She continued,
Many had pretty low volume, about half the male norm. If they came to our clinic as patients, we’d tell them they are abnormal… They are delivering significantly fewer sperm to the female when they have sexual intercourse.
Each ml of semen normally contains approximately 100 million sperm, so for a healthy man, a few million sperm lost due to occasional pot use may not cause harm. However, for men who are already producing less sperm, chronic marijuana use could lead to infertility, according to the study.
Generally, the medical community believes that marijuana negatively impacts male testosterone levels and increases the likelihood of fertility problems in men. But the good news is that abstaining from weed for a few months seems to help men regenerate their sperm to normal levels.
Women may not be off the hook either, says Dr. Burkman.
When women smoke marijuana, nicotine or other drugs, their reproductive fluids contain these drugs. The woman smoking marijuana is putting THC into her oviduct, into her cervix.
Even if the man is not smoking, his sperm release into her body can be affected by the THC in her system. “Her THC is changing his sperm,” she says.
Preliminary studies have also shown that chronic smoking can delay ovulation and egg maturation, though the Department of Health and Human Services only saw a small rise in these incidences in a small sample size of only 26 cannabis users.
But a 1990 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology reported that chronic female smokers had an increased risk of ovulation delays and skipped ovulation cycles. Yet, the study also had trouble finding consistency between the frequency of pot use and they supposed effects.
Also, the majority of studies regarding marijuana and fertility have been conducted on laboratory animals, not humans. Even the National Institute of Health (NIH) admitted in an overview of related studies that,
Clinical studies on human subjects generally agree with the animal findings, although conflicting results have been reported as well.
They also added that the human body adapts to marijuana in ways that animals cannot. “In adults, tolerance develops to hormone changes brought on by the use of marijuana.”
We’ve all heard the horror stories about weed, which have later turned out to be untrue. However, it’s never a bad idea to be cautious when trying to conceive. Since the research only leaves us with more questions at this point, your best bet is to seek the advice of a medical professional and let them know about your weed habit if you suspect there might be issues.