Does Cannabis Affect Male Fertility?
Does cannabis affect male fertility?
Sperm are small, highly specialized cells that face only one, but more important task: to find an egg and fertilize it. Each ejaculation sends about 300 million male germ cells. But only one sperm will reach its final destination and fertilize the egg – or not. Because a number of factors can affect both a man’s biological fertility and his sense of pleasure. Certain diseases play a role, but also lifestyle. For example, science has shown that men who regularly use cannabis are at risk of becoming infertile.
It is not easy for male germ cells. While the egg in a woman’s fallopian tube moves downward by gravity, the man’s sperm must move upward by their own strength and overcome a number of obstacles. Of the initially about 300 million germ cells, only 200 to 300 successfully pass through the cervix and uterus. The next step is to locate the egg in the fallopian tube, ideally in the first part of the fallopian tube, called the ampulla. To cover a kilometer distance in terms of sperm, it takes not only speed but also the right time to properly distribute the available energy.
Lifestyle influences fertility.
Male fertility ultimately depends on how many sperm are in the race, how mobile the single-celled organisms are, and whether they are in the right place at the right time. What many men don’t know: the biological clock ticks not only in women, but also in men. From about 35 years of age, sperm quality deteriorates. But fertility can be impaired already in young men. Lifestyle is essential. Stress, alcohol, certain medications and drugs can all have an impact. The most commonly used illicit drug, cannabis, is a possible cause of infertility, according to recent research.
Herbert Schuel of the University of Buffalo, USA, was one of the first researchers to discover that cannabis can impair sperm quality. However, his team used synthetic anandamide, which is similar to the natural active ingredient in cannabis. They found that low doses of the chemical caused sperm to become overactive, while high doses made sprinters limp. In addition, synthetic anandamide appears to interfere with the attachment of sperm to the egg. However, it remained doubtful whether the effects observed in vitro would also occur in humans.
So one of Schuel’s university colleagues, Lani Burkman, went even further. She and her team examined the semen of 22 cannabis users and compared the results with those of 59 men known to be fertile. Men who smoked pot for an average of 5 years experienced a significant decrease in both ejaculate volume and sperm count. Surprisingly, sperm cells were abnormally overactive compared to the germ cells of non-smoking men. However, these turbo sperm needlessly waste their energy and sink before reaching the egg. “The sperm of cannabis users moved too fast, too early. The timing was not right,” Burkman said. “These sperm are burned out before they reach the egg and can no longer fertilize it.”
A British research team led by Sheena Lewis of Queen’s University Belfast has come up with similar results. The team also found that THC-treated sperm no longer release the enzymes needed to penetrate the egg’s protective coating. Lewis believes there may be a link between cannabis use and the rise in the number of unintentionally childless couples in the UK.
“About one in six couples are infertile, and 40 percent of these have sperm problems,” Lewis told Spiegel Online.
In addition to the purely biological aspect of fertilization, male sexuality can also be influenced by cannabis use, according to an Australian study. Marian Pitts and her team surveyed nearly 9,000 people aged 16 to 64 about their cannabis use and their sexual orientation. While there seems to be no link between frequency of cannabis use and sexual problems in women, the picture is different for men. Accordingly, men who use cannabis on a daily basis are more likely to experience orgasmic problems. You are 4 times more likely to miss orgasm. In addition, men who smoke weed every day are significantly more likely to complain that ejaculation occurs too early. However, it has not yet been established that hemp is the only cause.
Increased risk of testicular cancer?
In addition to having orgasm problems, men who smoke can face further adversity. In a US study led by study director Janet Darling, cannabis users were found to have a 70 percent increased risk of testicular cancer. Men with particularly heavy or long-term use are twice as likely to be at risk as those who do not.
The study authors don’t yet have much to say about the mechanism that leads to an increased risk of testicular cancer. They suspect that cannabis use diminishes the effects of a certain endogenous cannabinoid-like substance that is produced in the testes. This substance is believed to protect the body from cancer.
Research results show that cannabis use, especially on a daily basis, can significantly impair male fertility. This can especially affect men whose sperm quality is already on the verge of infertility. Lani Burkman emphasizes that cannabis use can lead to overshooting.
It is also unknown whether infertility can be reversed by stopping smoking weed. According to Burkman,
“THC remains in adipose tissue for a long time, so the (circulation) process can be very slow. It cannot yet be said to be back to normal. Most men with borderline fertility are unaware of this fact. who is at risk. I would definitely advise anyone looking to have children not to smoke cannabis, including men and women. “