Cannabis reduces male fertility

The United Nations drugs watchdog has warned that Government's "softly, softly" approach to cannabis use is putting the health of future generations at risk.

Cannabis is the most widely used drug in Ireland and is often termed a soft-drug. Its use is highly controversial and has far reaching physiological consequences on the body. Research has shown that men who frequently use cannabis under the age of 30 produce abnormal sperm which significantly lower their fertility and prevents them from having children.

Scientists have speculated that falling sperm counts among European men are due to the surge in the use of recreational drugs.  Men are being warned that smoking cannabis could affect their fertility. Scientists have uncovered new evidence that the drug upsets the male reproductive system.

The warning comes in a study by scientists at Aberdeen University, who examined the impact of cannabis on male mice. The animals, whose reproductive systems are similar to those of humans, were injected with cannabinoids - cannabis derivatives - to see if they changed natural messages from the brain to the testes regulating testosterone production.

Hormonal signals come from the brain to stimulate testosterone production and prompt the testes to make new sperm. This study suggest that smoking pot has a significant impact on both processes. It appears to interfere both locally on the testes and has an impact on the way the brain regulates testosterone production.

The reason men have millions of sperm is because the fertility process is more difficult than people think.  The whole process of ascending up the tract to the fallopian tubes and then finding the egg is very delicately balanced and is hugely dependent on the environment.  As the sperm approaches the egg, it receives a signal to start swimming -- hard. This hyper-activation lets it push through the egg cover. Sperm that has been damaged as a result of smoking cannabis doesn't show the same ability to achieve this.

As sperm is produced every 74 days by the body, it is important that cannabis is not used for at least a period of 3 months prior to conception.   It is a highly volatile substance and is easily damaged if immersed in the wrong environment. 

Gaye Godkin, Health Nutritionist, , MPH Nutrition (Hons) DipNT cNLP



FertilityOrla O'Connor