Despite previous findings, a new Harvard study indicates that men who smoke marijuana appear to have a higher sperm count than those who have never used cannabis at all-yet the finds are still very vague.
The study shocks many due to past research, which claimed that marijuana has a harmful side effect of lowering and killing off sperm count along with decreasing the testicular function.
However, the new experiment, published Feb.6 in the issue of Journal Human Reproduction, does not urge men to start smoking the plant to up their sperm count. Authors claim that the findings are far from conclusive, and more studies will need to be conducted to fully understand and prove whether smoking marijuana could, at certain levels, have a positive outcome on sperm reproduction.
Dr. Jorge Chavarro, Study senior author, and an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, said in a statement. “We know a lot less than we think we know.”
The previous research was done on marijuana, and sperm count suggests that smoking marijuana will lower a man’s sperm count, especially in heavy users. Although the study of moderate marijuana use on sperm count among men is still unclear or “less clear.”
According to the new study, experts looked over information from 663 men who, including with their partners, were checked for infertility from 2000 to 2017 at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center. During the study the participants answered survey questions about how often they consumed marijuana or used other drugs, they also were required to provide blood and urine samples.
In all, little over half of the men (55%) reported never smoking marijuana in their lifetimes, and 11 percent said they are a current user of cannabis and smoke regularly.
The study shows that the men who reported smoking marijuana had an average sperm count of 63 million sperm per milliliter of semen, in comparison to 45 million sperm per milliliter of semen among those who have never used the drug. The findings come after experts took into account that some factors could have affected sperm counts including age, cigarette smoking, and alcohol use.
Also, only 5 percent of the marijuana users had a lower-than-normal sperm count, which is less than 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen. Among men who claimed they never smoked marijuana, 12 percent had lower-than-normal sperm concentrations.
However, each additional year that had passed since a man last used marijuana a slight rise in sperm count would appear.
“Our findings were contrary to what we hypothesized at the start of the study,” study head author Feiby Nassan, a postdoctoral research partner at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, claimed in the statement.
“Overall, the jury is still out on how marijuana impacts a man’s fertility potential,” Vij said in a statement to press, the new study doesn’t provide a conclusive answer.