Marijuana use and reproduction

Submitted by Shelby D Burns Tue 12/08/2009 Tweet

Smoke With medical marijuana use becoming more common, researchers are paying more attention to the chemical reactions caused to the brain by cannabinoids, the active chemical components in marijuana. But are any looking at the effect of marijuana use on fertility? While no studies have proven that marijuana use leads to male infertility, in animals or humans, several studies are showing a link. Men who smoke marijuana have a higher prevalence of problems that could cause infertility, including lower testosterone levels, less vigorous sperm swimming patterns, and testicular cancer. Lani Burkman, a professor emerita of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine, runs a business that provides fertility tests to potential parents with a history of drug use, including marijuana. Burkman admits there are “no hard studies’’ that support that specific time for abstaining from drug use prior to conception, but waiting a year or two to wash the cannabinoids stored in the body’s fat tissue is a good idea. “More research is required to know exactly what are the effects of smoking marijuana,” said S.K. Dey, director of the reproductive sciences division at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. One study that Dey helped conduct (published in the journal Cancer) showed that men, especially if they had smoked marijuana in their youth,prior to age 18, had a higher risk of testicular cancer. “What studies we have done suggest that the risk factors could be more if exposed at an earlier age.” Marijuana use by women during pregnancy goes beyond effecting the mother and impacts the baby. Maternal marijuana use during pregnancy has been linked to low birth weight and cognitive problems as the baby develops.

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