Tuesday, 20 August, 2019

Marijuana use may increase sperm count

It could be that a little bit of pot boosts sperm production a relation that reverses at higher It could be that a little bit of pot boosts sperm production a relation that reverses at higher
Gustavo Carr | 07 February, 2019, 12:41

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.

In the new study, the researchers analyzed details from 662 men who were evaluated for infertility from 2000 to 2017 at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center.

A new Harvard study suggests that men who use marijuana have significantly higher sperm counts than non-smokers.

"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. They found that the men who now or previously used marijuana had higher sperm counts and sperm concentrations than those who never used marijuana.

They reckoned that there could be a "non-casual explanation" to the effect of male testosterone on "sperm count and risk-taking behaviours". At the same time, they didn't spot a difference in the sperm concentrations of men who used marijuana at the time of the questionnaire and those who had used it in the past.

None of these limitations or considerations invalidate study's findings, it's just a sign, as Chavarro said, that we need to study cannabis more (the fact that cannabis is still considered more risky than opioids by the USA government remains a roadblock to that research, incidentally).

"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 study author Jorge Chavarro, "Our results need to be interpreted with caution and they highlight the need to further study the health effects of marijuana use".

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She also explained they are "consistent with two different interpretations" - the first being that low levels of marijuana use could benefit sperm production. Along with their medical history, the men were also asked if they had ever used cannabis and, if they had, whether they were still using it.

Feiby Nassan, the study's lead author, said the findings were contrary to what the team hypothesised.

It's possible not all the men came clean about their use of weed, given the drug's illegal status during most of the study (Massachusetts voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016). The pattern was the same regardless of past or current cannabis use.

Scientists analysed the sperm quality of regular cannabis smokers as well as non-smokers, with some unexpected results.

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

The men who admitted to smoking marijuana at some point in their life seemed to have higher concentrations of sperm than those who had never had a puff. Another reason, according to the researchers, is that men may be more likely to engage in "risk-seeing activities", like smoking marijuana, if they have higher testosterone concentrations- something that aids in fertility.

In addition, greater cannabis use was linked to higher levels of the male hormone testosterone among smokers. Don't take weed if you want to start a family.