What effects does marijuana have on male and female fertility?

By (embryologist), (gynecologist) and (embryologist).
Last Update: 04/28/2022

Marijuana use decreases male fertility by depleting sperm before reaching the egg, causing fertility problems and reducing the chances of pregnancy.

However, cannabis also affects female fertility, as it causes a shortening of menstrual cycles and complicates embryo implantation. Unlike tobacco, marijuana exerts its effect on the fallopian tubes, resulting in an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy.

Therefore, leading a healthy lifestyle and avoiding drug use is essential when trying to achieve pregnancy.

Marijuana and male infertility

Infertility in men can be due to several reasons and one of them is the use of marijuana. The consumption of this drug has effects on semen quality, which complicates pregnancy.

Spermatozoa are the sex cells of the male and their main function is to fertilize the egg. In order for the union between the egg and the sperm to take place, a great amount of energy is needed, since they have to cross the membranes that protect the interior of the egg.

For this reason it is very important that the spermatozoa do not wear out in the male reproductive tract and reach the female reproductive tract with the greatest amount of energy. Spermatozoa have to travel a long and complex path until they reach the egg.

Sperm energy and marijuana use

Cannabinoids, active components contained in marijuana, would alter the physiology of spermatozoa in the male reproductive tract. As a consequence, sperm cells expend more energy resources than they should.

When the sperm reach the female reproductive tract they show very low levels of energy to perform their movement, especially in the final stretch in which having a good supply is essential to be able to cross the egg and fertilize it. If the sperm are not able to reach the egg and/or cannot cross it, pregnancy will not be achieved.

For all of the above reasons, marijuana use has been linked to male infertility and decreased chances of pregnancy. Smoking joints has a negative effect on sperm quality and quantity.

Another effect of marijuana use in males is a decrease in testosterone levels and libido. In the most extreme cases, marijuana may cause erectile dysfunction in men.

Effects of cannabis on female fertility

Although the effect of marijuana use on a woman's fertility is not entirely clear, there are several studies that indicate some consequences.

For example, marijuana could cause an alteration of a woman's menstrual cycle or suppression of egg production. Marijuana contains a psychoactive substance called THC that causes inhibition of the hypothalamic axis, causing an alteration in hormonal functioning. This is why women who take marijuana may have anovulation.

In addition, cannabis use could also hinder embryo implantation or cause miscarriages.

It should not be forgotten that, according to some studies, the consumption of marijuana by women can also cause spermatozoa to move more slowly through the female reproductive tract. On the other hand, there are also studies that link marijuana use in women to the risk of ectopic pregnancy.

FAQs from users

How does one's lifestyle affect fertility?

By Joel G. Brasch M.D. (gynecologist).

Whether you're thinking about getting pregnant or you've already been trying, it's never too soon or too late to evaluate your lifestyle choices. Starting healthy habits or getting rid of the bad ones can improve your overall health. And some lifestyle changes can improve fertility for both you and your partner. For example, quit smoking, reduce alcohol use, eliminate street drugs, practice safe sex, avoid (male) overheating, limit caffeine intake, and exercise regularly.

Does marijuana affect egg quality?

By Marta Barranquero Gómez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

It seems to be so. According to studies on this subject, cannabis consumption causes a reduction in connexin levels. These are proteins that seem to be in greater quantity when the eggs are of better quality.

Therefore, if connexins decrease, the eggs will be of poorer quality and there will be a lower probability of embryo implantation.

Is smoking joints while pregnant bad?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, smoking hashish or marijuana while pregnant has negative effects on the fetus. As with tobacco, the baby may be born prematurely and with low birth weight, in addition to presenting withdrawal symptoms (crying, tremors, altered sleep pattern, etc.).

Does marijuana influence a woman's fertility?

By Marta Barranquero Gómez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, Marijuana use negatively affects female fertility. Regular cannabis use has several effects on women:

  • Shortening of menstrual cycles.
  • Difficulty in embryo implantation.
  • Complication in the development of the placenta.
  • Increased risk of extrauterine or ectopic pregnancy.

In addition, cannabis also affects fetal growth and is related to low birth weight.

Suggested for you

If you want to know more information about pretesticular factors, don't forget to visit the following article: Male infertility due to pretesticular origins.

On the other hand, marijuana affects the quality of eggs. If you are interested in knowing the oocyte quality for IVF, we recommend you to visit the following article: The quality of the eggs for an IVF treatment.

We make a great effort to provide you with the highest quality information.

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Feiby L Nassan, Mariel Arvizu, Lidia Mínguez-Alarcón, Paige L Williams, Jill Attaman, John Petrozza, Russ Hauser, Jorge Chavarro, EARTH Study Team. Marijuana smoking and markers of testicular function among men from a fertility centre. Hum Reprod. 2019 Apr 1;34(4):715-723. doi: 10.1093/humrep/dez002 (see)

Kelly S Payne, Daniel J Mazur, James M Hotaling, Alexander W Pastuszak. Cannabis and Male Fertility: A Systematic Review. J Urol. 2019 Oct;202(4):674-681. doi: 10.1097/JU.0000000000000248. Epub 2019 Sep 6.

Sara Ilnitsky, Stan Van Uum. Marijuana and fertility. CMAJ. 2019 Jun 10;191(23):E638. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.181577 (see)

Stefan S du Plessis, Ashok Agarwal, Arun Syriac. Marijuana, phytocannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system, and male fertility. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2015 Nov;32(11):1575-88. doi: 10.1007/s10815-015-0553-8 (see)

FAQs from users: 'How does one's lifestyle affect fertility?', 'Does marijuana affect egg quality?', 'Is smoking joints while pregnant bad?' and 'Does marijuana influence a woman's fertility?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Cristina Mestre Ferrer
Cristina Mestre Ferrer
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics & Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Embryologist at IVI Barcelona. More information about Cristina Mestre Ferrer
 Joel G. Brasch
Joel G. Brasch
Dr. Joel Brasch is the Medical Director of Chicago IVF, founded in 2005. He is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and has over 25 years of direct experience in fertility treatment and reproductive care. He is also the Director of Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. More information about Joel G. Brasch
 Marta Barranquero Gómez
Marta Barranquero Gómez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduated in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH) in collaboration with Ginefiv and in Clinical Genetics by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH). More information about Marta Barranquero Gómez
License: 3316-CV

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