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.