Without a doubt, vaping, ingesting & smoking marijuana causes infertility
As recreational marijuana becomes legalized in more places in the United States, including New Jersey, more and more patients are asking: Does marijuana cause infertility? Yes, it does – in men and women in a variety of ways. If you read no further and you want to have children, don’t vape, ingest or smoke marijuana.
But I do want you to read further. It is our goal at Reproductive Science Center of New Jersey to not only inform our patients about the many uncontrollable conditions that can cause male or female infertility, but also about what they are doing in their social lives that can affect fertility.
We try to pull everything together and give patients that information so they know what they are doing in their lives that affects their fertility. And marijuana use certainly could be one of them.
Why marijuana is an issue in reproductive endocrinology
Legalization has the effect of making people think marijuana is less harmful than things like alcohol use. The result is an increase in use, with 44% of Americans 19-30 using marijuana within the past year. There’s also an increase in public acceptance: 59% of adults say medical and recreational marijuana should be legal. It is natural that marijuana use would also increase in couples and individuals who want to have children.
But there’s a paradoxical effect about marijuana use by those trying to conceive. Marijuana is perceived as a way to relieve stress, and infertility can cause stress. So, some patients experiencing stress from the difficulty of conceiving, or from treatments, are turning to marijuana to relieve that stress.
Please resist that temptation. It is a path to even more trouble conceiving and more stress.
Marijuana is not a benign substance. And the bodies of women and men are susceptible to the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana via cannabinoid receptors in the testicles, sperm, the uterus, fallopian tubes and the hypothalamus that is involved in reproductive hormones.
Does marijuana cause infertility in women? Yes, in these ways.
Marijuana use can have these female reproductive effects:
- Harms egg health.
- Makes conception difficult and makes it take longer.
- Affects embryo implantation.
- Throws off ovulation.
- Results in fewer eggs retrieved during in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Studies on marijuana’s effects on fertility focus on the THC compound in marijuana rather than the CBD (cannabidiol) compound, which is more prevalent in hemp. THC is more prevalent in marijuana and is what causes the euphoric sensation.
Female egg health and conception
THC decreases luteinizing hormones (LH) that are needed to produce eggs. Women who smoke marijuana once a day take a longer time to conceive. Their success rate of conceiving in six months is 42% versus 66% for nonmarijuana users.
Embryo implantation and miscarriage
Decreasing LH decreases progesterone, which is needed to hold onto pregnancy. So we see an increase in miscarriages. The miscarriage rate in smokers is double that of nonsmokers.
Disrupts ovulation & causes anovulation
Marijuana use also throws off a woman’s ovulation cycle. Some reports show it delays ovulation by up to four days. Some of those cycles are resulting in anovulation, which is when the ovaries do not release an egg. Pregnancy is impossible then. One study showed that women who smoked marijuana within one year of trying to conceive had twice the infertility rate due to ovulation issues than those who did not use marijuana.
Effects of marijuana on pregnancy
Studies indicate that half of female marijuana users continue that drug use once they become pregnant. Some use it for its ability to reduce nausea and vomiting in the first trimester. And this causes problems.
In addition to the aforementioned increase in miscarriage due to marijuana use, it also increases the rate of stillbirths and other problems. The children of mothers who use the drug have higher incidences of preterm birth, of babies going into neonatal intensive care and of low birth weight. There is also an association with autism, sudden infant death syndrome and cognition issues in childhood.
Smoking marijuana to relive nausea early in pregnancy may be beneficial for that short term, but not in the long run for your baby.
Does marijuana cause infertility in males? Yes, here’s how.
Marijuana use is prevalent in reproductive age males. Studies have shown one vape or marijuana cigarette a week can reduce sperm production or count by 30% – and that can last up to three months. We also know that sperm from those who smoke or consume edibles can affect viability of sperm, including the motility (movement) and shape (morphology). Both can affect sperm’s fertilization potential.
Low LH levels, erectile dysfunction & low sex drive
We see low fertilization rates in active male pot smokers. That reduces LH levels that can disrupt testicular function and result in infertility. Marijuana use can decrease testosterone in men, which cuts sperm production. It can also decrease men’s ability to perform sexually through erectile dysfunction.
While some men report that pot increases their desire to have sex, others report the opposite and experience low sex drive (libido), preventing them from wanting to have sex. Daily use can lead to orgasmic disorders that further impair the ability of the male to do his part in conception. Pot can decrease testicular size.
Would you rather have the euphoria of marijuana or of children?
We believe that once patients are properly informed, they will certainly choose the lifetime joy of having children. At RSCNJ we offer everyone the best of our knowledge, experience and advice in their efforts to overcome infertility.
That includes our nonjudgmental advice to not engage in activities that increase the odds of infertility.
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