Marijuana could reduce male fertility: study

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If you are male, use cannabis heavily and happen to want biological children, you might want to reconsider your lifestyle choices.

A recent study published in the journal Human Reproduction assessed sperm by shape and size and found that less than 4 per cent of the 200 sperm assessed were of normal form, which could be due to lifestyle choices and cannabis use.

Dr. Allen Pacey, senior lecturer in Andrology at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and the lead author of this study, suggests that cannabis use could decrease men’s fertility.

Men self-reported their lifestyle information and researchers collected semen from 1,970 men which provided valuable data for the fertility assessment. Out of the 1,970 men who provided their semen, 318 produced abnormal sperm while the rest were above the 4 per cent mark – they had the correct size or shape as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

A special machine recognizes sperm that has a ‘normal’ stained sperm head, based on the standards of a landmark 1999 WHO study. A ‘normal’ stained sperm head has a length of 4.0–5.0 μm and a width of 2.5–3.5 μm, with a length-to-width ratio between 1.50 and 1.75.

The study found that men who had less than 4 per cent normal sperm had used marijuana within the three months of giving their sample and under the age of 30. “Cannabis affects one of the processes involved in determining size and shape,” Pacey wrote.

The study recommends that men who are attempting to conceive should limit their exposure to cannabis if they are regular users. It also suggests that men make modest lifestyle changes to improve the quality of their semen.

Moreover, sperm size and shape size was less than ideal within samples made during the warmer summer months, but men who had held back from engaging in sexual activity for more than six days had better sperm.

 

Feature Image: Fertilization via Shutterstock

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Katrina Pedersen Editorial Intern at Vancity Buzz.

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