There’s lots of talk about how weed affects pregnancy once a couple conceives, however it’s also important to consider how sperm are affected before even fertilizing an egg.
According to a new study, cannabis could cause sperm to “mellow” out and “swim in circles.” And this could cause a man to have issues with fertility. Of course, this doesn’t mean men who smoke weed are infertile, but it’s something to consider especially if a couple is having trouble conceiving.
Yet moreover, cannabis doesn’t only affect the way sperm behave, but also a man’s sperm count, altogether. “The weight of the evidence is that marijuana does affect sperm counts,” says lead study author Dr. Victor Chow from the University of British Columbia. While occasional cannabis use won’t do much damage, smoking weed could have more of an impact on the sperm of heavier users, he says.
“Sperm is a very rapidly turning over cell,” Chow explains, meaning that cannabis could immediately affect sperm production since the male body recreates sperm about every three months. For heavy users, cannabis can affect overall fertility by reducing sperm count. In fact, regular cannabis use can reduce sperm count by about a third, according to some research.
This shouldn’t be great cause for worry, however. The sperm production cycle will get back on normal track about 90 days after a man decreases or puts his cannabis use on hiatus.
However, the research surrounding cannabis and sperm can be contradictory. For instance, a study from 2003 found that cannabis made sperm overactive, causing them to move too quickly, instead of too slowly or lazily as the more recent research suggests.
And yet another study found that cannabis had little effect on sperm, whatsoever. “We took five heavily addicted marijuana smokers and we looked at their semen. We could find nothing wrong with the routine semen analysis,” says Dr. Anne Jequier, president of the Fertility Society of Australia, who conducted a study in 2002.
By now you might be thinking of all the dads you may know who are heavy pot smokers or who have a history of having been heavy smokers around when they became fathers. How cannabis affects the individual is variable and while studies can gives us clues as to how the plant will impact the body, it’s still very much contingent on your own endocannabinoid system.