Guys who use marijuana have significantly higher sperm counts than non-users, Harvard researchers accidentally find
“These unexpected findings highlight how little we know."
If you’re sperm count is scant and you’re trying to beef up your numbers, maybe try smoking a little bud before you go joining the local fertility cult. Apparently, men who toke up, burn, blaze, vape or eat pot produce more semen than those who never have.
This incredible new discovery, comes from a brave group of scientists, Harvard pupils who painstakingly counted stoner sperm cells from thousands of ejaculations from hundreds of men over the course of 17 long years. It was no trivial undertaking. But finally, in early 2019 they were able to publish their findings in Human Reproduction, and clean their hands of this strange research.
However, what they found was not what they expected. When Feiby Nassan, Mariel Arvizu, Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, Paige Williams and Russ Hauser embarked down this road in 2000, they originally thought that cannabis-users would almost certainly have lower sperm counts than non-users.
Their results suggest exactly the opposite, though.
In fact, their research not only suggested that cannabis-users have higher sperm counts than non-users, but it also indicates that even infrequent users or those who have only ever tried cannabis once in their lives, will also have higher concentrations of sperm.
“These unexpected findings highlight how little we know about the reproductive health effects of marijuana, and in fact of the health effects of marijuana in general,” Jorge Chavarro, associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard Chan School, said in a press release. “Our results need to be interpreted with caution and they highlight the need to further study the health effects of marijuana use.”
For this study, which was riddled with exciting phrases like "spermatogenesis," "ejaculate semen volume," and “deleterious effects of marijuana on testicular function,” 1,143 samples of semen were collected from 662 men over a 17-year period (2000-2017). Of those 662 dudes, 55 percent had used marijuana at one point in their lives, 44 percent were regular past users, and 11 percent classified themselves as current users.
And the conclusion was pretty clear: “Men who had ever smoked marijuana had significantly higher sperm concentration than men who had never smoked marijuana”
To give you an idea of how much of a difference they observed: the average, non-marijuana user had about 45.4 million sperm-per-ejaculate. That’s a lot fish for one splash. But, for those men who had used cannabis in their lifetime, researchers measured on average 62.7 million sperm-per-ejaculate. Additionally, a mere 5 percent of men who had used cannabis had a sperm count below 15 million sperm per liter, whereas the number for never-ever-users was 12 percent.
Even still, with those numbers staring them in the face, the researchers were left scratching their heads. For the life of them, they couldn’t explain why they were observing higher sperm counts in stoners and even occasional marijuana users – and they’re still exploring a host of different possible explanations.
“Our findings were contrary to what we initially hypothesized. However, they are consistent with two different interpretations, the first being that low levels of marijuana use could benefit sperm production because of its effect on the endocannabinoid system, which is known to play a role in fertility, but those benefits are lost with higher levels of marijuana consumption,” Feiby Nassan, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Chan School, said in a press release.
“An equally plausible interpretation is that our findings could reflect the fact that men with higher testosterone levels are more likely to engage in risk-seeking behaviors, including smoking marijuana,” Nassan added, reaching for an alternate explanation.
So, while this observation can’t yet be explained, it’s one more benefit to add to the ever-growing list of reasons to use marijuana: male fertility.