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420 and Sperm Count: Is There Some Bad News?

01 Mar 2019

Bad news: Harvard scientists decided to prove that marijuana had negative effects on sperm count.

Good news: there’s no bad news.

It’s a Study, So It’s Serious, Right?

So far, the studies about the effects of marijuana on sperm count delivered mixed results. Doctors like to warn against consumption, assuming that smoking weed affects sperm in a negative way.

Marijuana use among college-age adults is at all-time high. Are young people endangering their future lives by smoking weed?

Before they started working on this study, Harvard researchers set this study question: “Is marijuana smoking associated with semen quality, sperm DNA integrity or serum concentrations of reproductive hormones among subfertile men?”

I like to assume that even they were surprised with the results. The study showed that men who had ever smoked marijuana had better sperm count and concentration. There was no difference between past and current marijuana smokers.

Let’s stop for a moment and imagine the faces of scientists realizing that.

What Did They Study, Exactly?

These are Harvard researchers. They are not just going to tell you “Hey; we analyzed the effects of marijuana on sperm and it turns out they are positive.” No. They are going to get into details and they will give you more info than you expect.

The study analyzed samples from over 650 subfertile men, who provided a total of 1143 semen samples between 2000 and 2017. They completed a detailed survey with each sample they provided. Subfertile means reduced fertility. Men who had never smoked marijuana had worse results in the study.

There were two possible explanations for these surprising results:

  • Occasional marijuana smoking may have positive effects over sperm count due to its influence over the endocannabinoid system. With that, it improves fertility.
  • Men with higher testosterone levels are more fertile. But higher testosterone levels also mean that these men are more likely to engage in risky behavior, such as marijuana smoking. Maybe it’s not the marijuana, but the testosterone that made the difference in the semen samples.

Let’s Not Jump to Conclusions, Shall We?

We shouldn’t take this study as a recommendation to start smoking marijuana. First of all, it’s limited to one aspect of its effects. It doesn’t examine how marijuana changes the genetic profile of sperm cells. There’s a study on that, too. It’s not definite, but the findings were not that optimistic.

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Another problem is that the results cannot be translated to men from the general population. Plus, the occasional marijuana smoking was self-reported. Given the fact that the study was conducted during a period when marijuana smoking was illegal in the USA, it’s quite possible for the study participants to have lied in the surveys.

Maybe it’s safer to stay safe, after all. What do you think?

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