Almost every initial doctor’s visit begins with a form to gather your medical background and family history. And, almost every form contains some variation of a question that patients don’t always answer truthfully: Have you ever used illegal drugs?
It’s extremely important for patients to answer these questions truthfully so that your doctor has a complete picture of your health. This is especially true if you or your partner are actively smoking marijuana when working with a fertility specialist, as this could contribute to infertility, and may be crucial to your individualized treatment plan.
Here’s how marijuana affects fertility in men and women:
Smoking marijuana can impact male fertility in numerous ways. First, it can impact male sex drive, which can be troublesome when trying to conceive. It can also potentially lead to erectile dysfunction.
Another potential result of smoking marijuana could be lowered sperm count or abnormally shaped sperm. Marijuana is said to lower testosterone levels and to lower sperm production by one-third. Additionally, according to a 2014 study published by Human Reproduction, smoking marijuana regularly changes the size and shape of sperm. This abnormality could have a negative effect on fertility. Sperm that is abnormally shaped may have difficulty binding with the egg.
All of these factors could lead to struggles to conceive. The positive news is making a lifestyle change and ceasing to smoke marijuana could level out testosterone levels and increase sperm production in time.
Although the conversation of marijuana and female fertility is often centered around male fertility and sperm production, women who smoke marijuana may also see the effect it has on their fertility level.
Chronic marijuana smoking can lead to delays in egg maturation and in ovulation. Women who smoke marijuana are more likely to have something called a luteal phase defect, which means that their egg is not matured but is still released during the cycle, which lowers pregnancy rates and increases miscarriage rates.
What’s not often known is that women who smoke marijuana are negatively impacting sperm’s motility, even if the sperm comes from a man who does not smoke. THC absorbed through the vagina, oviduct, and uterus impact sperm entering the body and change its motility.
Because of these factors, it is extremely important to be honest with your doctor if you or your partner smoke marijuana. Lifestyle factors go a long way in fertility treatment and marijuana, in addition to tobacco products and alcohol, could have a negative effect on your family planning journey.