The University of the West Indies recently conducted a study on marijuana’s effect on sperm count. According to the University, men who are regular smokers of marijuana have poor quality sperm count. Of course they University did not specify what their idea of “poor” is. Surely it can’t be poor in the sense of not being able to get a woman pregnant.
If you think of all the famous marijuana smokers, one thing they will have in common is a large number of children. Whether it is Bob Marley, Snoop Lion, Elephant Man or Peter Tosh; the number of children between them would suggest that poor sperm count as not been a problem for them.
The research was featured at UWI Research Days, held February 9 to 11 on campus.
It was conducted by academic staff from the Faculty of Medical Sciences, and investigations led by Dr Audrey Pottinger sought to compare the levels of marijuana smoking with sperm quality among Jamaican men, while investigating their fertility potential.
Dr Pottinger and her team invited all male clients who attended a fertility clinic at the UWI over an eight-month period to complete a standard intake form, which included demographic and employment date, general health and lifestyle practices, and pregnancy and medical history. The men also completed a questionnaire detailing their marijuana use. In total 94 men participated.
The participants’ sperm were analysed.
The results revealed that significantly more chronic marijuana users had poor sperm quality (sperm count and motility) compared to those who had never smoked marijuana. However, current marijuana users were not differentiated from long-time users.
The research further revealed that those chronic smokers younger than 30 years were as likely to have critically low sperm count as males over 50.
While the findings suggest that chronic marijuana use negatively affects sperm quality, several questions emerged, such as why males under 30 years had critically low sperm count and what factors lessened the impact of marijuana smoking on sperm quality.
The research concluded that the implication of marijuana use and fertility needs more investigation, using robust DNA testing and examining socio-cultural practices associated with marijuana smoking.