Study finds surprising link between higher sperm concentrations and marijuana smoking

Overall the sperm of past and current marijuana users seemed to be of superior quality.
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Men who have smoked cannabis at some point in their life have "significantly higher" sperm counts than those who have never used the drug, according to new research.

"An equally important limitation is the fact that most of the data were collected while cannabis was illegal in MA, so it is hard to know to what extent men may have under-reported use of cannabis because of social stigma or potential consequences related to insurance coverage for infertility services", he said.

After examining the samples, the researchers found that only around 5 percent of the men who had smoked cannabis before had clinically low sperm counts, compared to 12 percent of the men who had never tried cannabis before. They also found that the sperm counts did not differ very much when comparing current and former cannabis smokers. The biggest one is that the possible effects of cannabis on men visiting a fertility clinic (some of whom are likely infertile already) might not be representative of its effects on men in general.

Among men who had ever smoked marijuana, those who used it more often had higher testosterone levels than those who used it less often. For example, in 2015, researchers from Denmark found that men who smoked marijuana a couple of times per week had sperm counts that were almost 30 percent lower than those who didn't smoke marijuana, or those who used the drug less frequently.

While the findings are certainly intriguing, it's important to note, as the researchers do, that the study is not without its limitations, and the results certainly don't mean that marijuana is great for your reproductive health - previous research has linked it to reduced fertility, after all.

"We spent a good two months redoing everything, making sure that there wasn't any error in the data", said co-author Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Although men who had smoked pot at some point in their lives had higher sperm numbers, the study did not look at cause and effect.

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A study published Wednesday in Human Reproduction suggests that, contrary to prior research, marijuana could potentially increase a person's sperm count. The majority of the men participating had normal sperm counts, suggesting that other conception issues may have been the issue. Second, since semen quality is a poor predictor of fertility, these findings should not be interpreted as implying better fertility with cannabis use. Despite its growing acceptance, relatively little is known about marijuana's effect on reproductive health.

For now, there's just not enough evidence to make any conclusions about the use of marijuana on male sperm.

They are said to have had 63 million sperm per milliliter of semen whereas the 297 men who reported never smoking cannabis only had 45 million per milliliter.

It is estimated that 16.5% of adults in the US use marijuana, and support for legal recreational use of marijuana has increased dramatically in recent years.

However, each additional year that had passed since a man last used marijuana a slight rise in sperm count would appear.

She also explained they are "consistent with two different interpretations" - the first being that low levels of marijuana use could benefit sperm production.

Whether those changes can be passed on to a child remains unknown, but for now, some researchers are warning that men in their childbearing years should consider how weed might impact their fertility and possibly their offspring.

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