When guys consider what they can do to enhance their fertility, smoking pot is not one you’d expect to find near the top of the list. Historically, most studies in this area have found that marijuana use lowers both sperm count and movement, or motility.
However, in a recent study, researchers examined 1,143 semen samples from 662 men who were 36 years old on average. The study found that men who previously or currently smoke marijuana had average sperm counts of 62.7 million per milliliter. Those who never smoked were significantly lower at 45.4 million per milliliter. What’s more, smokers had higher blood testosterone levels, as well.
If you’re a man trying to produce a baby with your partner, it may seem like the takeaway from this study is that it’s time to smoke some pot.
It might be best to pump the brakes on this line of thinking, says Dr. Ranjith Ramasamy, a reproductive urology expert with the University of Miami Health System. “There have been several studies on cannabis and sperm concentration and motility, and most have shown the opposite effect,” he says. “In any area of study, you’ll have about 5 percent of your data that shows the opposite of what you’d expect, and this study may be the outlier.”
Even if there is some potential that marijuana can actually raise sperm counts, Dr. Ramasamy says that we need to know more before drawing any conclusions from this study. “This study only looked at sperm concentrations and testosterone levels,” he says. “We don’t actually know how it impacts sperm motility, or if marijuana use had any actual impact on pregnancy success.”
The bottom line
You should probably steer clear of pot if you’re trying to have a baby with your significant other, says Dr. Ramasamy. “The vast majority of studies indicate that regular cannabis use reduces your chances of pregnancy.”
Instead, men trying to boost their fertility should focus on many of the other tenets of a healthy lifestyle: A healthy, well-balanced diet, regular exercise, good sleep, reduced stress, and weight loss. “If it’s healthy for the heart, it’s healthy for sperm,” he says. “I recommend that my patients steer clear of supplements and other ‘quick fixes’ and focus on healthy habits. If that still isn’t leading to pregnancy, that’s when they can see a doctor to explore other forms of fertility treatment.”
Wyatt Myers is a contributing writer for UMiami Health News.