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    Three Ways Marijuana Can Affect Fertility

    Updated 25 November 2021 |
    Published 09 September 2019
    Fact Checked
    Anna Klepchukova
    Reviewed by Anna Klepchukova, Flo chief medical officer, UK
    Flo Fact-Checking Standards

    Every piece of content at Flo Health adheres to the highest editorial standards for language, style, and medical accuracy. To learn what we do to deliver the best health and lifestyle insights to you, check out our content review principles.

    Some studies show that marijuana use negatively affects fertility in men and women. Many articles and physicians advise against using marijuana while trying to get pregnant to reduce the risks of infertility. Learn more about the warnings signs of infertility and discover how you can develop healthy habits to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

    1. Ovulation delay

    Scientists aren't sure exactly how THC affects the sexual function of women attempting to get pregnant. THC affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, which controls how your sex hormones interact. Continuous exposure to THC can inhibit the secretion of luteinizing hormone and prolactin from the pituitary gland in males and females. These hormones influence your chances of getting pregnant.

    In women, high THC doses interfere with the menstrual cycle and may delay or prevent ovulation. Cannabinoids inhibit the activity of the HPG axis, meaning that marijuana use decreases the production of several hormones and can inhibit sexual behavior — if your sex drive is down, this can also hinder your efforts to conceive.

    Regular smokers may have an elevated risk of not ovulating at all. A 2016 report also suggests marijuana disrupts the menstrual cycle and can lead to anovulatory cycles (cycles without ovulation).

    In general, it’s thought that marijuana can affect the production of luteinizing hormone in women. LH regulates testosterone production in men and stimulates female ovulation. When men smoke frequently, they tend to have lower levels of testosterone, and women who smoke frequently have less LH.

    In addition to marijuana use, it's important to examine other causes of late ovulation so you can put yourself in the best position for a successful pregnancy.

    Find out if your lifestyle is fertility-friendly

    2. Lower sperm count

    According to the Mayo Clinic, marijuana use can impair a man's sperm count and ability to reproduce. Other research has suggested that marijuana is bad for men's fertility. 

    However, a Harvard study surprisingly refutes those findings and states that there's no evidence of harmful effects on fertility. In the study, researchers collected blood samples and semen from hundreds of volunteers at the Massachusetts General Hospital fertility clinic. In the study, which ran from 2000 to 2017, men were asked about their marijuana use. The results showed no correlation between marijuana use and male fertility.

    Since there isn’t a conclusive determination on the subject, if you have a male partner who smokes, try to discourage him from doing so while you are trying to conceive — especially if his sperm count is low.

    3. Deterioration of existing fertility problems

    There's no conclusive evidence that marijuana use causes infertility, but research has found that it can lower sperm count, increase anovulatory cycles, and disrupt the balance of hormones in the body that encourage pregnancy.

    Women who smoke marijuana may increase their likelihood of infertility and may be increasing their risk of a miscarriage. Marijuana crosses the placenta and may affect the fetus, although specific studies aren't readily available on the precise impact on the baby.

    You may want to abstain from marijuana or THC while pregnant or trying to get pregnant to eliminate any possible negative side effects.

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