Does marijuana affect infertility?

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Most marijuana users say that anecdotally there is no sign that marijuana usage impacts fertility at all. Nevertheless, the definitive 2003 study from the University of Buffalo which revealed that marijuana does affect male fertility, has withstood the test of time.

Too fast and too early

“The bottom line is, the active ingredients in marijuana are doing something to sperm,” explained Lani J. Burkman, PhD, lead author. Burkman is associate professor of gynecology/obstetrics and urology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She is also the founder and owner of LifeCell DX. “We don’t know exactly what is happening to change sperm functioning, but we think it is one of two things: THC may be causing improper timing of sperm function by direct stimulation, or it may be bypassing natural inhibition mechanisms. Whatever the cause, the sperm are swimming too fast too early.”

Sperm burnout

Sperm was collected from a group of self-identified marijuana users who smoked an average of 14 times a week for over five years. They were compared to a group of non-users. Samples from both groups were tested for volume, sperm count per unit of seminal fluid, total sperm count, percent of sperm that was moving, velocity and shape. Both the volume of seminal fluid and amount of sperm from the pot smokers was considerably less. “The sperm from marijuana smokers were moving too fast too early,” explained Burkman. “The timing was all wrong. These sperm will experience burnout before they reach the egg and would not be capable of fertilization.”

Then why do plenty of pot smoking men have children?

Burkman speculated that the men who experience infertility due to THC may have borderline infertility issues to start with. The marijuana may be magnifying an existing infertility issue. He also believes that there is not enough known to say whether or not cessation will correct the problem. “THC remains stored in fat for a long period, the process may be quite slow. We can’t say that everything will go back to normal. Most men who have borderline fertility are unaware of that fact. It’s difficult to know who is at risk. I definitely would advise anyone trying to conceive not to smoke marijuana, and that would include women as well as men.”

Source: University at Buffalo


 
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