Marijuana is used for a variety of medical and recreational purposes throughout the United States. Marijuana is generally considered to be a mild drug with therapeutic benefits, and it is now legal in 23 states and in Washington, D.C.
Marijuana is known for decreasing pain, giving users a red-eyed look and creating a craving for junk foods. But a new study shows that it may have a more serious impact on the male reproductive system.
Danish researchers found that regularly smoking marijuana reduces sperm count by an estimated one-third. The research concludes that men who smoked marijuana more than once a week had lowered their sperm count by 29 percent in comparison to non-smokers or casual, less frequent users.
Conducted by Danish researchers, the study was published on Aug. 16 in the American Journal of Epidemiology. It included a survey from 1,215 Danish men ages 18 to 28 and focused on the frequency of their marijuana, amphetamine, ecstasy and cocaine use in the past three months.
About 45 percent of the participants had smoked marijuana in the past three months, and about 10 percent used marijuana in addition to other drugs. The researchers then collected sperm count and concentration data and compared the results to the responses.
In men who regularly used marijuana, the sperm counts were reduced by 55 percent, and the sperm concentrations were reduced by 52 percent.
Tina Kold Jensen, a researcher at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, asserted that the reduction was “quite a lot.”
In addition, the study also measured sperm concentrations and found that they were 28 percent lower in the men who smoked marijuana more than once a week.
Although researchers are unsure of the exact science behind the way that marijuana use decreases sperm count, they believe it has something to do with how its active chemical Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) interacts with receptors in the testes.
Researchers came to an overall conclusion that smoking marijuana is a lifestyle choice, which influences other health-related behaviors. The study found that men who use marijuana regularly are also more likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and use other drugs. These lifestyle factors were taken into account, but the conclusions remained the same.
Jensen said that the research only provides a link between marijuana use and lowered sperm count, but doesn’t have a proven correlation. The study does, however, show that marijuana use may have a negative impact on sperm count.
“We cannot exclude the possibility that the men who used marijuana generally have an unhealthier lifestyle and health behavior, which may also affect their semen quality and hormone levels,” according to the study.
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