Now that marijuana’s popularity is increasing, it’s a good time to look at some of the possible effects of which you may not be aware. Yes, it can be very helpful for people who have headaches, insomnia or high blood pressure; but did you know it also has a well-documented impact on fertility?
Researchers have found that the two main active cannabinoids interfere with energy production in the mitochondria of sperm. Marijuana decreases LH, FSH and testosterone and increases prolactin (all hormones necessary for sperm production). This means if you’re a regular smoker you can have low numbers of sperm who swim poorly and have trouble penetrating your partner’s egg – all adding up to a hard time getting pregnant. Marijuana use by male partners is also tied to an increased risk of miscarriage. The good news – it’s all reversible! New sperm can show up in as little as 72 days. So, if you’re trying for a pregnancy now’s a good time to cut way back on the weed. The recommendation is to stop for a month before trying.
For women, marijuana decreases LH and FSH and increases prolactin which interferes with your menstrual cycle. One study showed smoking as little as 3 times a week could disrupt ovulation. Without the release of an egg each month there is no chance for a pregnancy. Also, THC is thought to be toxic to developing eggs. Marijuana’s effects on the placenta in animal studies included preventing implantation or causing poor nourishment of the developing offspring. So, more research needs to be done in this area. Important for the ladies to know, your marijuana use can slow swimmers down as well! Even if your partner isn’t smoking but you are, the marijuana in your body can cause hyperactivation of his sperm leading to the same scenario described above – exhausted swimmers who can’t make that final push to fertilize your egg.
In the end, if you’re trying to conceive it’s really best to only take drugs that are absolutely necessary for you. Even commonly prescribed drugs for high blood pressure, heartburn, antihistamines and anti-depressants can interfere with fertility. Over the counter pain medications like Advil or Aleve can negatively affect ovulation and some antibiotics impact sperm production. So, it’s better to avoid medications whenever you can. If you have any questions, we’re always here to help!
Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine
American Society for Reproductive Medicine