Can cannabis affect your sperm quality?

Written by: Anel Martínez



Time to read 3 min

Marijuana, also known as cannabis or weed, is one of the most commonly used recreational drugs in the world as well mentioned by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). While the use of marijuana has become increasingly accepted and legalized in some parts of the world, there is still much to be understood about its effects on the human body, particularly in terms of reproductive health. 

In recent years, there has been growing concern about the impact of marijuana use on sperm quality. This is due to the presence of psychoactive compounds in marijuana, such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which can disrupt the endocannabinoid system in the body. This system is involved in regulating various physiological processes, including sperm production and function. 

Sperm and cannabis

Studies have shown that marijuana use can have an impact on sperm quality. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, has been shown to affect the normal functioning of the sperm cells, making it more difficult for them to reach and fertilize an egg. This can lead to a decrease in sperm count, motility, and viability, all of which are crucial factors in determining a man’s fertility.

Other studies have found that marijuana use can significantly affect sperm quality. In fact, one study found that regular marijuana use was associated with a 29% decrease in sperm concentration and a 52% decrease in sperm motility. This suggests that marijuana use may have a negative impact on male fertility, suggesting that cannabis use may lead to changes in the size and shape of sperm cells, which can impact their motility and ability to fertilize an egg.

researchers collecting marijuana

Why does cannabis affect the sperm count?

Cannabis contains chemicals called cannabinoids that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. This system is involved in regulating many physiological processes, including fertility, as mentioned before. This is thought to be because THC, the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, can bind to receptors in the testes and disrupt the production and maturation of sperm cells. 

Relevance of hormones

Cannabis can affect sexual hormones and sperm count in a few ways. The primary psychoactive component of cannabis, THC, can bind to cannabinoid receptors in the endocrine system, which regulates the production of hormones including testosterone, estrogen, and luteinizing hormone (LH).

Studies have found that cannabis use can decrease testosterone levels in men, which can in turn decrease sperm production and lead to lower sperm count. THC can also disrupt the process of spermatogenesis (the production and maturation of sperm cells) by interfering with the function of Sertoli cells in the testes, which play a crucial role in this process.

But, is really cannabis so bad for the sperm?

It is important to note that the effects of cannabis on sexual hormones and sperm count can depend on several factors, including the frequency and duration of use, the potency of the cannabis, and individual differences in genetics and metabolism. While some studies have found negative effects on fertility, other research has shown no significant impact or even a potential positive effect of cannabis use on sperm count and testosterone levels. Further research is needed to fully understand the effects of cannabis on reproductive health.

Other things that may be affecting your sperm

Let’s be clear on something, marijuana isn’t the only thing that may be affecting your sperm. Of course, there are many things that could affect the sperm quality apart from this substance, such as: 

  • Age: as we get older, our reproductive system might deteriorate and might have fewer healthy sperm. 

  • Unhealthy habits: smoking, consuming alcohol or any substance that could be harmful to our body might also affect the sperm count and quality.

  • Overweight: suffering from being overweight is linked to an abnormal sperm, affecting the genes. 

  • Sexual transmitted infections: such as gonorrhea, chlamydia or syphilis can interfere with the healthy process of the reproductive system and genesis or sperm. 

  • Drugs or prescription pills: some over the counter or prescribed pills can affect our ability to produce healthy sperm quality. Also, the intake of anabolic steroids might cause permanent and harm to the sperm.

Being aware of the different things that could affect our sperm could be helpful in order to understand our body and to recognize what are the things that could be really impacting your overall sexual health. 

man thinking about life and issues

Bottom line

In conclusion, the evidence suggests that marijuana use can have a negative impact on sperm quality. However, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of marijuana use on male fertility and sperm quality. If you’re trying to conceive, it’s best to limit or avoid marijuana use, especially if you’re a heavy user. Additionally, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about the impact of marijuana use on your health and fertility. 

Anel Martínez

Author: Anel Martínez  (Sexual Coach at MYHIXEL)

Sexologist specializing in sex therapy and sex education, mental health and human behavior.