Marijuana and Male Fertility

There is a lot of controversy out there about the “green monster”. Is it really that bad for you? Well some scientists out there say yes, it really is, and that it can even harm your fertility.


There is a lot of controversy out there about the “green monster”. Is it really that bad for you? Well some scientists out there say yes, it really is, and that it can even harm your fertility.

What is it?

Marijuana is a drug, but most of you already know that. It is a plant that when smoked or ingested gives the user the feeling of being “high”. This is caused by the main ingredient: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (try saying that three times really fast), or THC for short. When THC enters the body, it typically causes immediate relaxation, commonly resulting with a bag of chips, a television, and a giggly viewer.

A huge controversy taking place among today’s generation is whether or not to legalize marijuana. Many say that personal use of the drug is not hurting anyone, and even argue that the medical side effects are less than those of other legal drugs. Is this really true? I won’t get into the politics of it, but there have been recent studies that show marijuana has harmful effects on the body and fertility.

How does it affect my body?

We all have something called an endocannabinoid system. This system controls a whole bunch of functions in the body, including those of pleasure, hunger, sleepiness, and (you knew it was coming) reproduction. The endocannabinoid system is made up of lots of cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are waiting for certain chemical counterparts, canniboids, to activate them, so they can do their job (kind of like a lone sock waiting for their pair). Most of these cannoboids are produced by the body and perform specific functions.

Now, THC is a canniboid. When it enters into the bloodstream it binds with these receptors, taking the place of the intended canniboids. Pairing THC with these receptors alters the user’s reality and gives them the feeling of being “high”.

What does this have to do with my fertility?

Although controversial, studies have shown that when the endocannabinoid system is hijacked by THC, spermatogenesis (how sperm are made) is adversely affected. This results in a reduced sperm count, shape, and motility, as well as a decrease in testosterone production (read Low T for more info about low testosterone). Also, when THC comes in contact with sperm, it binds to their mitochondria (the powerhouse of the sperm), and excites them, causing them to start swimming very fast. The journey to the egg is just that: a journey. If the sperm start off too fast, they’ll tire out and die before they even get close to the finish line. All of these factors reduce your chances of conception.It is also believed that the use of THC affects men with pre-existing reproduction conditions more than those without.

Well, what do I do?

There is a great deal of controversy out there whether any of these findings are true. There are conflicting studies, people who swear by one side or the other, and some who just don’t know what to think. The best thing that you can do to increase your chances of conception is to reduce all the possible factors holding you back, including smoking that Mary Jane. Keep in mind that it takes about three months for sperm to be made, so it may take a few months to see any improvements. Now, put out that bud and go make some babies.


  • Badawy, Zaki S., Kazim R. Chohan, Donna A. Whyte, Harvey S. Penefsky, Oliver M. Brown, and Abdul-Kader Souid. “Cannabinoids Inhibit the Respiration of Human Sperm.” Fertility and Sterility 91.6 (2009): 2471-476. Web.
  • “DrugFacts: Marijuana.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Jan. 2014. Web.
  • Lewis, Sheena E. M., Cinzia Rapino, Monia Di Tommaso, Mariangela Pucci, Natalia Battista, Rita Paro, Luke Simon, Deborah Lutton, and Mauro Maccarrone. “Differences in the Endocannabinoid System of Sperm from Fertile and Infertile Men.” Ed. Hubert Vaudry. PLoS ONE 7.10 (2012): E47704. Web.
  • Whan, Lynne B., Mhairi C.l. West, Neil Mcclure, and Sheena E.m. Lewis. “Effects of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the Primary Psychoactive Cannabinoid in Marijuana, on Human Sperm Function in Vitro.” Fertility and Sterility 85.3 (2006): 653-60. Web.

15 thoughts on “Marijuana and Male Fertility”

  1. Of course you may. Please post the link here so I can find it.

    Is it possible to over count the sperm? Technician error? Or is it more likely to be undercounted?

    1. It is possible to over or under count the sperm. Usually the error window is as high as 50% so if the result was 10 M/mL the “real” result could range from 5 to 15 M/mL or if it was 50M/mL the “real” result could be anywhere from 25M/mL to 75M/mL. The better labs have a smaller error window of like 20% so the spread would be tighter…

      In general, you should have a good idea that the count is “low” or “moderate” or “high”

  2. Hi Sara it’s me again sorry for another message!

    I went to get another Semen analysis done today from a different lab. To my shock here are the results:

    Volume – 2.5 ml
    Ph – alkaline
    Colour – creamy white
    Viscosity – semi viscous
    Liquification time – 30 mins

    Sperm count – 85 million per ml
    Motility grade a excellent – 10%
    grade b good. – 20%
    grade c sluggish motile – 15%
    Non motile – 55%

    Pus cells 12-14 /hpf
    rbc’s 4-6 /hpf

    Morphology normal – 80%
    Abnormal – 20%

    What do you think is going on?

    Could two Semen tests only 4 days apart be this varying in results and sperm count?

    Surely only 4 days of not smoking cannabis can’t increase my count by this much?

    Please Sara if you could give your thoughts that would be highly appreciated. Have you seen anything like this before?

    What do I do? Do I go by the first report or the second? What is more likely to be right. The lower reading or higher reading one?

    Thanks again

    1. Crazy!

      I have seen numbers jump… not sure if it has been this much in this short of a time span.

      I would recommend a few things:
      1. Not smoking — I’m sure it is helping
      2. Get tested again in a couple weeks

      PS… I’m starting to build a community feature for this site, would you mind if I moved this conversation there?

  3. So with my numbers above what would my motile count be? (a) rapid progression is 5%, (b) slow progression is 20% and (c) non progressive is 15%.

    For motile count do you include rapid progression and slow progression a + b? or do you just include a? or do you include a, b and c?

    so my volume 3.2 x concentration of 10 million = 32 million total sperm

    If including a + b i do 32 million x 0.25 which gives me total motile count of 8 million.

    If i include a, b and c it gives me 32 million x 0.40 = 12.8 million

    If i only include a (rapid progress sperm) then i get 32 million x 0.05 which only gives me 1.6 million motile.

    I would be very grateful if you could please clarify which of the above calculations would be correct and used in this scenario above where at least 1 million motile sperm is needed but some clinics prefer 5 million.

    Thank you so much for getting back to me, i appreciate it so much, its made such a difference to me.

  4. Hi sara thanks for the reply.

    Is a 10 million count and the rest of my numbers above on the low side for iui success?

  5. Hi Sara,

    Thank you every so much for getting back to me so quickly.

    Do you think my wife and I should keep trying naturally or with my numbers above we should go straight to iui?

    I’d also like to add that after the miscarriage she didn’t get periods for 6 months so we didn’t try during that time. In addition since marriage I travel abroad for work a lot. I think since the miscarriage I have been with her for 12 full cycles. (Where we have had sex for the whole month every 2/3 days).

    I don’t have a problem with costs associated with Semen testing or even iui if we were to go down that route.

    I was actually planning on repeating the Semen test exactly 6 days after the above – purely because I will be cannabis free for 6 days and I’m desperate to see if there’s even a small increase. I got high the night before the test, around 12 hours prior to it so I feel as though that could
    Impact it. After a few days off it my body already feels more awake and normal.

    I also have some issues relating to staying hard so prior to sex I take golden root herbal pill. Which works great for me for many years. Have never needed anything stronger such as viagra.

    At time of Semen test I didn’t have the golden root pill so wasn’t fully hard whilst I masterbated. Would this impact the results? When I re test in a
    Few days would it be advisable to take a
    Golden root the night before to simulate real life sex conditions?

    Finally one last question: assuming the worst that my numbers don’t improve and I am stuck
    With the above numbers. Should I be worried? Can we still have a baby?

    Thanks again, greatly appreciate you getting back to me.

    Best Wishes.

    1. Cannabis can impact erections as well. I plan on writing a more detailed article on the subject, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

      I’m not sure of golden root. I haven’t read anything on that. I can look into it.

      I would imagine that it would take at least a month to see any improvement in sperm count. You can totally do IUI in the meantime. It is a pretty effective treatment if you are trying to get pregnant quickly and have a low sperm count. Here’s a full article on sperm count and IUI.

  6. Hi, I am a 30 year old male my semen results state 10 mil/ml. Rapid progression 5%, slow progression 20%, non progressive 15% and Immotile 60%.

    30% normal and 70 abnormal. Volume of semen was 3.2ml and pus cels 2-4.

    I smoke cannabis daily and have been trying to have a child with my wife for the past 2 and a half years. She got pregnant on our second cycle trying but ended in miscarriage after hearing heartbeat around week 8.

    I have stopped using marijuana. I stopped tobacco 6 months ago.

    Will my count and motility improve now? If so how long will it take?

    Otherwise I am very healthy, go to the gym 3/4 times a week I play sports regularly.

    I used to smoke around 1.5 to 2 grams of cannabis a day (zero now).

    Is it possible for my results to get a lot better in the coming months? I mean after stopping heavy weed smoking is it possible that my count will go from 10 mil to 50 mil for example? And motility will improve?

    1. It is totally possible. You might want to get a semen analysis every couple of months (or every month if you can afford it) to track changes. I wouldn’t be concerned if you don’t see changes right away. It can take 1, 3, 6 or 12 months to recover sperm count. It varies person to person.

      Really sorry to hear about the miscarriage. Those are hard.

      Let me know if you have other questions. happy to help.

  7. I’m 42, don’t want any babies in my life and I don’t want surgery to get snipped down there. I have a Infrared Sauna and I use MaryJane daily. Going to get a sperm analysis done after a use the Sauna to see how infertile I can make myself. Been lucky with pull out method so far and more careful during ovulation (condoms/abstinence). Thanks for helping me understand how to cook my balls using my Sauna=)

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