Can Weed Make You Infertile? The Real Answer 

can weed make you infertile
By Andrew Ward Updated March 8th

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

An increasing number of parents are openly acknowledging their love of cannabis. And many aspiring parents are asking, “Can weed make you infertile?” 

The rumor that marijuana affects fertility has persisted for ages, and clinical research has provided some insights on the subject. But there is still a great deal we don’t know about how cannabis affects fertility. 

In this article, we discuss the uncertainty around the relationship between male and female infertility, using some of the latest scientific studies and research. 

Can Weed Make You Infertile? 

A number of studies and analyses suggest that cannabis consumption could reduce the chances of having a child. Conflicting studies suggest that marijuana has no notable effect on the chances of becoming pregnant.

So which studies are correct?

At this time, the only general consensus on the subject seems to be that additional research is required. And with the lack of clarity, some consumers are choosing to reduce or eliminate cannabis use out of an abundance of caution. Consumers who use cannabis medicinally, however, should consult with their doctor before changing their dosage or stopping their treatment regimen.

How Can Weed Affect Male Fertility?

weed and fertility

Scientists continue to research the connection between male fertility and cannabis use. So far, the results have been too varied to provide a conclusive understanding. 

Several studies have indicated that current or past cannabis use could impact male fertility and sperm production. A 2015 analysis of over 1,200 men found lower sperm concentration in 28% of regular cannabis smokers (defined as those who smoke more than once a week). Sperm levels decreased further when subjects combined marijuana with other drug use. At the same time, the study indicated that cannabis consumers had higher testosterone levels than cigarette smokers. 

Other tests have found the opposite results. A 2019 Harvard study noted that male cannabis consumers had higher concentrations of sperm than non-consumers. And in 2017, an analysis of North American couples found little connection between male or female conception probability rates when consuming cannabis. 

If that wasn’t unclear enough, other studies have presented mixed results regarding the matter. The issue around stillbirth and neonatal intensive care unit admissions remains unclear. Researchers are also examining possible connections between cannabis use and testicle size in primates. However, it is unsure if these results will remain consistent in human trials. 

While there isn’t conclusive proof that cannabis is detrimental to fertility, many in the clinical field suggest using caution. Thankfully, this is one area of cannabis research that appears to be receiving adequate (or close to it) levels of clinical attention. While it will take more time to understand the topic, researchers continue to explore the issue. For now, those looking to start or expand their family may want to consult with a physician and exercise caution. 

How Can Weed Affect Female Fertility?

weed and female fertility

Our understanding of female fertility and cannabis use is about as mixed and uncertain as it is for males. In both cases, clinical research and analyses have produced an array of results, and additional studies are needed before any conclusive statements can be made. But with adverse outcomes appearing in several studies over the years, many hopeful parents are erring on the side of caution and reducing cannabis consumption when trying to become pregnant.

Proponents of reducing or abstaining from cannabis use during family planning periods have several studies to support their claims. A 2007 analysis of rhesus monkeys found an association between cannabis use and a more extended follicular phase, or the time an egg matures in an ovary during a menstrual period. The conclusion was supported by past studies of rhesus monkeys and ovulatory delays. More recently, human studies have suggested that cannabis use can impair fertility (2020) or reduce pregnancy chances (2021).

These cautionary results are countered by various studies throughout the years. 

Two 2018 studies found cannabis use did not lower the chances of getting pregnant. A cohort study of 4,000 Canadian and American men and women saw “little overall association” between cannabis use and conception probability. That year also saw the national survey of family growth analyzing over 1,800 male and female participants from surveys conducted between 2002 and 2015. Their research of respondents aged 15 to 44 concluded that cannabis use did not affect pregnancy chances for women or men. 

But, as researchers have noted in virtually every study, additional research is required to better understand the subject. According to researchers, we remain primarily in the dark on the topic. Some researchers have noted “critical gaps” in research on the effects of cannabis on pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and infants. 

How to Reduce Infertility Risks while Using Cannabis 

how to lower fertility risks from weed use

Progress has been made regarding the connection, or lack thereof, between cannabis use and human fertility. However, we are not at a point where a consensus can be reached. 

Select animal studies suggest that cannabis could play a part in hindering human fertility. And while it isn’t clear how many of these studies will find similar results in humans, any concerned would-be parents may want to consider reducing or eliminating cannabis use when trying to conceive. 

Many couples use cannabis as part of their intercourse or foreplay and may struggle to reduce or abstain without affecting their sex lives. Products like cannabis-based lubricants are unlikely to impact fertility, as they aren’t designed to reach the bloodstream. However, those who smoke, vape, or use edibles as an aphrodisiac or to increase creativity and stimulation during sex may want to consider a short break from cannabis if they are having trouble conceiving. 

On the other hand, select studies have indicated that cannabis consumption may benefit efforts to conceive. And medical cannabis patients might not have the option to stop or reduce their dosage in the same way casual adult consumers could. With so many questions left unclear, each person has to decide what is best for them. It is always wise to consult with a physician, but the decision ultimately rests with you.

If you are concerned about the impact cannabis has on your potential family planning, you may want to consider taking a tolerance break. And with men needing three months to produce new sperm, a prolonged break could be required. 

You might also consider changing your consumption method. A topical can increase stimulation and reduce pain without producing the psychoactive effects (or potential fertility risks) of smoking or vaping high-THC products. It's not the same experience, but it may be a worthwhile stop-gap solution for anyone who is trying to conceive and worries about the impact of cannabis on their fertility. 

The most important step you can take is to do the research yourself, and speak with a doctor if you have medical questions. Regardless of whether you are planning on continuing your cannabis use or taking a tolerance break, keep in mind that we are only in the infancy (no pun intended) stages of research on cannabis and fertility. 

Want to learn more about the effects of cannabis use and fertility? Contact the experts at NuggMD today. We’ll connect you with a qualified physician in your state, just like we've done for over a million Americans!

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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