Fact: Smoking marijuana, even infrequently, can dramatically affect sperm and egg quality, which can have a dramatic impact on fertility.
Fact: According to a report in the journal Human Reproduction, a woman’s fertility starts to decline at age 27, although this isn’t clinically significant. Most women of this age can still get pregnant, of course, but it might take a few more months of trying. But by the time a woman reaches 35, her chances of getting pregnant during any particular attempt are about half of what they were between the ages of 19 and 26.
Fact: While some men can father children into their 50’s or 60’s, male fertility isn’t age-proof. Men see a decline in fertility in their 40s, and also have been found to be at increased risk of offspring with certain health conditions, like schizophrenia.
Infertility Myth #11: Smoking marijuana does not affect fertility.
Fact: According to Resolve, more than 5 million Americans of childbearing age have fertility problems. Even under the best circumstances, conception is tricky. It’s not unusual for a perfectly healthy, fertile couple to try for several months or more before achieving a pregnancy. However, if you are 35 years or younger and have been trying to conceive for one year or more (or if you are over 35 and have been trying for 6 months or more) consultation with a fertility doctor is recommended.
Fact: Many men who produce little or no sperm have treatable conditions that can be addressed with fertility treatments or the help of a Urologist. Lifestyle changes—such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and staying out of hot tubs—may also help.
Fact: Researchers at the University of New York at Stony Brook put this piece of conventional wisdom to the test and concluded that underwear style is unlikely to significantly affect a man’s fertility.
Fact: Alcohol can increase the risk of birth defects once a woman becomes pregnant and can cause a collection of birth defects known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). There is no known “safe” amount of alcohol that can be consumed during pregnancy, so it is generally recommended that women avoid alcohol in pregnancy.
Although the link between marijuana and fertility is not straightforward—plenty of marijuana smokers get pregnant and get their partners pregnant—some research has demonstrated that marijuana use can negatively impact you, your partner, or the fertility of both of you.
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Obviously, if you are both smoking marijuana, you risk increasing the chances of infertility as a couple.
Quitting marijuana can be harder than many long-term marijuana users expect, so you and your partner would be wise to quit as soon as possible, while you still have time to get help before getting pregnant. If either or both parents still use marijuana when the baby arrives, you are increasing the risk that your child may use drugs in the future, and parental drug use is implicated in many difficulties for children and families.
Despite the relaxation effects that many people associate with marijuana use, research has shown marijuana has negative effects on the male sexual response.
Some studies on the effect of cannabis use on male fertility have indicated that regular use may reduce spermatogenesis (the production of sperm in the testes) and testosterone levels.
To understand how cannabis may affect fertility, we must understand the effect it has specifically on males and on females. We’ll start by looking at the effects on the male reproductive system, and then focus on the more complicated effects on female fertility.
Female reproductive health is vastly complex in itself, as it not only comprises the ability to become pregnant but also the ability to carry healthy offspring to term and successfully give birth.
Past research has indicated that cannabis use may disrupt the menstrual cycle, suppress oogenesis (production of eggs in the ovaries) and impair embryo implantation and development. Chronic use of cannabis has also been repeatedly associated with lower birth weight (as much as a 50% increased risk), decreased birth weight and early (spontaneous) termination of pregnancy.
While the effect of cannabis use on male fertility appears to be quite straightforward—with male chronic cannabis users being likely to experience some degree of impairment to reproductive physiology—the effect on the human female reproductive system is less clear-cut.