If you’re trying to get pregnant, you may have read that you should be eating well, eliminating stress, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight. And while all of these are great ways to improve your odds of conceiving, you may also want to talk with your partner about taking fewer trips to the local pot shop.
A recent study found that sperm counts are declining among men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Experts can’t say why sperm counts have dropped, but experts who treat male reproductive health issues are concerned about marijuana use.
“It is well known that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is one of the active ingredients of marijuana, is a direct inhibitor of sperm production and of the sperm mobility apparatus,” says Thomas Walsh, M.D., a urologist at the Men’s Health Center at University of Washington Medical Center-Roosevelt.
In a previous study that UW Medicine researchers were part of, researchers found that one dose of THC reduced fertility in male mice by 30 percent.
More research is needed as marijuana use increases
With so many recreational marijuana stores in Seattle, it’s no wonder that Walsh says a significant proportion of men he treats partake, even though experts know that marijuana can have a negative effect on semen quality and men’s reproductive health.
As more states legalize recreational marijuana, new data on sperm count and marijuana use will be easier to collect.
“The implications of this are important, and as we see marijuana use on the rise, we need to monitor and study it very closely,” says Walsh.
Your partner can still take ibuprofen
On the bright side, there is some news you probably don’t need to worry about when it comes to male fertility. A small study recently showed a link between ibuprofen and infertility, but Walsh says the study is too small. And while interesting, it wouldn’t make him tell patients not to take ibuprofen.
“The biggest concerns I have are the glaring lifestyle things that would just lead to poor health: obesity, sedentary lifestyle, marijuana use, heavy tobacco use and alcohol consumption. Those are the things that are more significant to me than the intermittent use of ibuprofen,” he says.