Health Care

Men who smoke marijuana have higher sperm count, Harvard study says

Men who smoke marijuana have higher sperm count, Harvard study says”

In the latest study, published Tuesday in Human Reproduction, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and elsewhere looked at a specific group of men: fertility clinic patients.

"This does not mean using marijuana is going to increase your sperm count", he underlined, before surmising that men with higher testosterone levels are more likely to use marijuana.

The study also found that among the men who had ever smoked pot, "those who smoked it more often had testosterone levels an average of eight nanograms per decilitre higher than those who used it less often".

Although the findings are fascinating, the research doesn't conclude that smoking marijuana actually increases sperm count, the doctor said.

There could be a non-causal explanation for the association, such as the effect of the male hormone testosterone on both sperm count and risk-taking behaviour such as smoking cannabis.

"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", said lead researcher Jorge Chavarro.

However, the associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard Chan School also warned that the results "need to be interpreted with caution".

Previous studies had suggested that smoking marijuana may lower a man's sperm count, especially among heavy users.

In the new research 1,143 semen samples were collected from 662 men between 2000 and 2017. Second, because the study's sampling wasn't diverse - 88% of the men were Caucasian, 84% were college educated, and the average age was 36.3 years old - the results may not apply to the general population.

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The participants in the new study self-reported their marijuana use, so the details they gave may not have been accurate.

More than half (55%) of the men reported having smoked cannabis at some point.

Meanwhile, 11 percent said they still smoked the drug.

Comparing these results to their semen samples, the researchers found that men who had smoked marijuana had average sperm concentrations of 62.7 million sperm per millilitre.

Only five percent of cannabis users had sperm counts below 15 million/mL, the World Health Organization's (WHO) threshold for "normal" levels, compared with 12 percent of men who had never smoked cannabis. Among marijuana smokers, the researchers found greater use was associated with higher serum testosterone levels.

The endocannabinoid chemical messenger system in the brain, which is stimulated when cannabis is in the body, can play a role regulating fertility.

Other experts in the field have questioned how robust the association is.

'In conclusion, I am not convinced that this paper moves us any further forward in this debate. The men in that study who used marijuana at least once per week, in addition to other recreational drugs, had even lower sperm counts, the researchers found. "In my opinion, this should be avoided at all costs in any couples trying to start a family".

In subjects, each taking the same moderate dose of marijuana daily over only several weeks, their sperm quality plummeted.

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