Does Marijuana Affect Fertility?

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What You Need to Know

There are several lifestyle factors that can have a significant impact on a person’s fertility, including diet, exercise, sleep, stress, alcohol consumption and drug use. While it is common knowledge that recreational drugs are to be avoided during pregnancy, many may not think about how these substances can affect fertility years before they try to conceive.

Specifically, as recreational marijuana continues to become more legally accessible and socially acceptable, people may not stop to think about the impact it can have on their fertility in the future.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that produces a “high.” Cannabidiol (CBD) is not psychoactive, but can be derived from marijuana to produce CBD products. While many people use CBD products to help with pain, sleep, and stress, there is limited research regarding how it affects fertility and pregnancy. However, studies have shown that marijuana can hinder fertility in both men and women.

Marijuana and Female Fertility

For women who use marijuana, THC may alter the lining of the uterus and disrupt the hormones responsible for ovulation and regulating the menstrual cycle, which can decrease the likelihood of conceiving. In one study, women who actively used marijuana were 41% less likely to conceive during each monthly cycle compared to non-users.

Additionally, marijuana can negatively impact women who become pregnant through assisted reproductive technology (ART). As demonstrated in a 2019 study, women who used marijuana after getting pregnant through infertility treatments were reportedly twice as likely to experience early pregnancy loss.

Marijuana and Male Fertility

Men who use marijuana may also develop fertility issues stemming from altered sperm count, morphology, and motility. Studies suggest that frequent marijuana use can slow sperm production, thus decreasing sperm count. One study demonstrated that regular marijuana use, defined as more than once a week, was associated with a 28% lower sperm count. Those who used marijuana more frequently had a 55% lower sperm count.

Marijuana may also impact sperm morphology, the size and shape of the sperm cell. A 2019 review of 48 studies suggests that marijuana may cause abnormal morphology in sperm. The same review also found a large body of evidence indicating that sperm motility, or a sperm cell’s ability to move, is harmed by marijuana. Altered morphology and motility may prevent affected sperm cells from successfully fertilizing an egg, thus causing infertility.

Main Takeaways

Both men and women who use marijuana regularly may be more likely to struggle with fertility and should speak with their doctor before trying to conceive. People who are trying to conceive should also be wary of using CBD products due to the lack of research on how it affects fertility and pregnancy. Once pregnant, women should stop using marijuana completely as it may cause harm to the baby’s development. Your provider may have suggestions for reducing marijuana use and adopting other healthy lifestyle habits in order to improve fertility and promote a healthy pregnancy.