Authors of a new study say it’s still unknown what impact marijuana has on pregnancy and child development, despite this new research.
Excessive marijuana use could impact sperm quality in male users, and not in ways previously understood. New research from Harvard Medical School reported that THC can be detected in semen.
Published in the journal Reproductive Physiology and Disease, the study focused on 12 men between the ages 18 and 45 who identified as chronic marijuana smokers. That meant using weed at least 25 days per month. After collecting urine, blood, and semen samples, researchers found detectable THC levels in two of the men, although they weren’t sure why THC was not found in the other subjects.
An important caveat, as Marijuana Moment first reported, was that “two semen samples had insufficient volume to be analyzed.”
Overall, the researchers’ goal was to determine whether THC can cross “the blood-testis barrier” in healthy adults, referencing a 2018 study that reported 16.5% percent of men and 11.5% of women consumed marijuana while trying to conceive.
The Harvard researchers wrote, “In the setting of a growing repository of data surrounding the effects of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation and maintenance of fertility and early pregnancy, ours is the first report that the exogenous cannabinoid THC can be detected in any human reproductive matrix.”
Still, the THC levels found in sperm was significantly low and just crossed the detectable threshold. Researchers still aren’t sure how THC-laden sperm would affect pregnancy or child development, stating that, “Evidence linking marijuana to reproductive outcomes is scarce and to date, often conflicting.”
Last year, Duke University researchers found cannabis consumption lowered the quality and count of sperm in men. According to a different Duke study, serious marijuana consumption could mutate a gene strongly related to autism, PTSD, and schizophrenia. But researchers cautioned they weren’t sure what the findings of their study revealed, and needed to be replicated before wider health discussions occurred.