A recent study has found that “Men who had ever smoked marijuana had higher sperm concentration and count and lower serum FSH concentra- tions than men who had never smoked marijuana; no differences were observed between current and past marijuana smokers.” Cannabinoid receptors are found in several components of the male sexual reproductive system, including the testes, vas deferens, and human sperm cells, and the activation of the receptors seems to be dose-dependent (greater action follows greater dosages.) Participants who had consumed lower doses had higher sperm count and concentration but participants who had consumed high doses had lower sperm count and concentration. Further research is needed to confirm causation.
There is a body of research supported by the National Institute for Drug Abuse, in humans and animal models, that has shown that so-called “abusive exposure” to marijuana smoking may adversely impact spermatogenesis. Data is less clear for moderate consumption levels and multiple studies have found higher serum testosterone concentrations among marijuana consumers.
Some important notes in the article:
The results may not be generalizable to all men. They used self-report as a tool of assessing cannabis exposure, which comes with fair reason to question the precision of the data collected. They also note that “these findings are not consistent with a deleterious effect of marijuana on testicular function. Whether these findings are reflective of the previously described role of the endocannabinoid system in spermatogenesis or a spurious association requires confirmation in further studies.”
Impacts of cannabinoid epigenetics on human development- reflections on Murphy et. al. ‘cannabinoid exposure and altered DNA methylation in rat and human sperm’ epigenetics
An op-ed has praised the work published last year which exposed how pre-conception exposure to cannabis in males is related to alterations in epigenetic regulation of the central nervous and immune systems. Murphy et. al.’s paper ‘Cannabinoid exposure and altered DNA methylation in rat and human sperm,’ revealed that the sperm cells of men who have consumed cannabis are a key vector that may affect neuraxis, heart blood vessels, immune stimulation, secondary genomic instability, and carcinogenesis in the fetus offspring. The author of the response piece extrapolates the data collected by Murphy et. al. to conclude the genome-epigenome is extremely sensitive to environmental toxicants and that further research should examine the epigenomic toxicology of multiple cannabinoids.
The effect of prenatal exposure to cannabis on birth rates, birth outcomes, and the health of the mother is still uncertain. Studies focussing on cannabis use during pregnancy are limited, and what little has been reported, is inconsistent. The featured article now brings to light that bothparents may need to be cautious when attempting to conceive or when having unprotected sex as cannabis may affect both germ cells. Currently, governing bodies of obstetricians advise that pregnant mothers cease any cannabis use so if someone who needs cannabis for a medical purpose that improves their quality of life becomes pregnant they need to seek out alternative methods of treatment. Research is needed so that pregnant women can safely continue their medication or so that alternatives can be found so that women do not need to suffer for the duration of their pregnancy and possible breastfeeding period.
Cannabinoid-deficient Benin republic hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) improves semen parameters by reducing prolactin and enhancing antioxidant status
Cannabis sativa, specifically Nigerian hemp, has been found to have adverse effects on male fertility. It’s use has been linked to a decrease in semen parameters, germ cell proliferation, and reproductive organ weight. It can induce hyperprolactinemia, a condition causing infertility in 11% of men with low sperm count.
Data from the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency in Nigeria has suggested users preferentially obtaining hemp from the Benin Republic. In a recent study investigating the composition of Benin republic hemp, a lack of THC and lower levels of cannabinol were observed. Additionally, an ethanol extract of Benin republic hemp increased sperm count, morphology, and viability.
Additional Point: Certain phytocannabinoids found in cannabis have demonstrated a detrimental effect on male fertility. However, analysis of hemp from the Benin republic shows a low to no levels of these toxic cannabinoids and evidence points to this particular hemp enhancing male fertility.