Cannabis Impacts Sperm And Male Fertility

August 4, 2023
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Dr. David Pompei, PharmD, MS

Does cannabis negatively impact sperm and male fertility?

If you are trying to conceive, it is important to be aware of the effects of marijuana on sperm, the male reproductive system, and fertility.

In this article, we'll share answers to the questions: "Does marijuana affect sperm count?", "Can weed make you infertile?" and "Does smoking weed lessen your chances of getting pregnant?

If you're concerned if cannabis decreases fertility, if weed lowers sperm count or if you can become infertile from weed then keep reading!

Does marijuana affect sperm count?

The answer to the question "Does marijuana affect sperm count?" is "Yes, weed lowers sperm count and sperm concentration, specifically weed with THC."

Research has concluded that the following marijuana consumption variables impact sperm count:

  1. If you consume marijuana
  2. How frequently you consume marijuana
  3. The total daily dose of marijuana you consume

A study of 1,215 healthy men aged 18 - 28 found that regular marijuana consumption was associated with a 29% lower sperm count and a 28% lower sperm concentration in men who consumed marijuana more than once per week compared to men who consumed no marijuana.

Another study of men aged 18 - 28 who consumed marijuana over six months found a correlation between the frequency of marijuana consumption and lower sperm count. Men in the study who consumed marijuana 10 times per week compared to men who consumed marijuana four times per week had a lower sperm count.

A third research study of 16 healthy male chronic marijuana consumers found that a high total daily dose of marijuana (8 - 20 joints/day) correlated to a significant decline in sperm count and sperm concentration after five to six weeks of cannabis consumption. The current research indicates that marijuana lowers sperm count and sperm concentration. 

Can weed make you infertile?

Cannabis research has shown that the answer to the question “Can weed make you infertile?” is “No, you cannot become infertile from weed but weed does lower sperm count and negatively impacts the health of sperm and male reproduction.”

Cannabis impacts male fertility by:

  • Causing testicular atrophy by damaging the seminiferous tubules, which are the tubes where the sperm are produced. Testicular atrophy can cause testicles to stop working, but it is a reversible condition.
  • Creating sperm morphology abnormalities (i.e. creating abnormal sperm shape)
  • Inhibiting the sperm's ability to fertilize an egg
  • Impacting reproductive hormones such as luteinizing hormone (LH) that helps to regulate the production of testosterone
  • Inhibiting sperm capacitation (i.e. the process sperm must undergo in order to prepare to penetrate an egg)
  • Reducing sperm motility (i.e. sperm's ability to move efficiently to an egg)
  • Reducing sperm viability (i.e. how long a sperm lives)
  • Triggering sperm to undergo Discs-Large Associated Protein 2 (DLGAP2 gene) methylation (DLGAP2 has been "strongly associated with autism as well as schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder")

The good news is that if you stop consuming cannabis before trying to conceive, sperm count and quality improve! 

Keep in mind that it takes about 64 days for sperm to regenerate so even if you've stopped consuming cannabis, it may take several months for the THC to flush out of your system and your sperm count and quality to increase.

Does smoking weed lessen your chances of getting pregnant?

Research conducted on 3,395 healthy men (1,035 cannabis smokers and 2,360 men who did not consume cannabis) showed that the prevalence of Erectile Dysfunction (ED) in cannabis consumers was 69.1% compared to 34.7% for non-cannabis consumers. It is thought that cannabis causes damage to the “endothelial cells, cells that live on the interior surface of the blood vessels and help to maintain an erection.” Unfortunately, research shows that THC consumption by men disrupts male reproduction, hormones, sperm count, sperm concentration, sperm quality, and sexual health, lessening the chances of getting pregnant.

Conclusions on how cannabis affects male fertility

In conclusion, it is clear that marijuana consumption can have negative effects on male fertility, specifically on sperm count and quality. Research has shown that regular marijuana use is associated with lower sperm count and concentration, as well as abnormalities in sperm shape and reduced sperm motility and viability. Additionally, marijuana consumption can disrupt reproductive hormones and sexual health, potentially leading to erectile dysfunction. However, it is important to note that these effects may be reversible if consumption is stopped before attempting to conceive. It is recommended for male cannabis consumers who are looking to start a family to speak with a doctor to discuss their consumption and the health of their sperm.

​​Marijuana has adverse effects on male fertility and can make it more difficult for men and their partners to get pregnant. While weed lowers sperm count it is very unlikely you will become permanently infertile from weed. If you are a male cannabis consumer and looking to conceive it is recommended to speak with a doctor to discuss your cannabis consumption and the health of your sperm.

Do you have questions about marijuana's effects on sperm and fertility that we didn't cover? Leave your question in the comments and we'll be happy to answer them.

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