A surprising new study from Harvard University reveals that men who smoke pot might have a significantly higher sperm count than men who don’t. According to the New York Post, the study challenges previous findings that show marijuana smokers as having lower fertility.
A group of scientists tested over 600 men who had smoked pot at least once or twice in their lives and found that those people had a much higher sperm count and concentration than people who hadn’t ever lit up. The 365 men who had smoked had “significantly higher” sperm counts than the 297 who hadn’t smoked, with an average concentration of 63 million sperm per milliliter of semen. On the other hand, non-smokers had a concentration of 45 million sperm per milliliter of semen.
The marijuana smokers also had a higher level of testosterone. The study’s lead author, Feiby Nassan, who is a fellow at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, called the findings unexpected.
“Our findings were contrary to what we initially hypothesized,” Nassan said, according to Inverse.
Still, the results aren’t completely shocking, according to the scientists who completed the study.
“However, they are consistent with two different interpretations,” Nassan added.
“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.”
Of the people tested, only five percent of smokers had lower than average sperm concentrations. What was even more interesting is that each year that has passed since the men smoked marijuana seems to have increased sperm concentration.
Despite the interesting news, men shouldn’t pick up smoking in hopes of upping their sperm count. More studies are needed to really determine how marijuana impacts fertility, particularly since numerous studies in the past have indicated that the opposite of this study is true. In 2015, Danish scientists found that frequent pot smokers – more than once per week – had sperm counts 30 percent lower than men who didn’t smoke often.
All this indicates that perhaps small amounts of marijuana consumption may have a positive effect on sperm over the long term, but heavy use reverses this effect. It could also mean that people who have more testosterone could engage in higher risk behavior like consuming drugs. The bottom line is that there is still plenty left to learn about fertility and marijuana use.
The study was published in Human Reproduction on Wednesday.