Heavy Cannabis Use May Lead to Male Reproductive Issues

A new study, Chronic exposure to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol impacts testicular volume and male reproductive health in rhesus macaques, published in Fertility and Sterility shows evidence that heavy cannabis use can lead to decreased hormone production, lower semen volume, and testicular atrophy.

Researchers chose a cohort of male macaques form the Oregon National Primate Research Center who were known to have proven paternity. The subjects were given a daily cookie containing THC before being fed their usual breakfast. The dose of THC was gradually increased over time for seven months. Blood and semen samples were collected, and scrotal ultrasounds were performed to measure testicular volume.

During the course of the study, a marked decrease in testicular volume was observed, reaching a 58% reduction by end of the study period. A change in hormone levels was also observed, including a decrease in testosterone. While semen volume was reduced, no statistically significant drop in sperm count was observed.

“As more and more jurisdictions legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use, it is vital that we understand its impact on all areas of health, including reproduction,” said Marcelle Cedars, MD President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. “This study raises some important concerns, ones that need to be more fully explored.”

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