Reproductive Effects of Marijuana

Why you shouldn’t smoke marijuana while pregnant.

More than 50 percent of the U.S. population will use marijuana at some point in their lives. The active ingredient found in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, begins to accumulate in fatty tissues with chronic use. As a result, side effects such as lower sperm production can occur. Marijuana also can adversely affect sperm mobility and lead to the development of abnormal sperm. In women, the use of marijuana can inhibit embryo development, which can result in fetal loss.

Sperm Production

Marijuana use adversely affects sperm production. In other words, the quantity and quality of the sperm dramatically decreases, and testicular function is altered. Decreased testicular size, lower testosterone levels, and decreased libido can also occur. Also when smoking marijuana, cannabinoid receptors bind themselves to the sperm, which inhibits proper mobility and fertilization of an egg. A cannaboid receptor is a chemical structure of tetrahydrocannabinol which causes the effects felt when smoking marijuana.

Preimplantation Embryo Development

The implantation of an embryo in the womb can be altered as a result of marijuana use. As a consequence, the development of the embryo can be inhibited, a pregnancy may not occur at all, or the mother may lose the fetus. The uterus needs to provide an environment for the fetus to safely develop. If the environment is disrupted, then the possibility of implantation cannot take place.


Women who smoke marijuana end up with a trace amount of THC in their vaginal canal. Tetrahydrocannabinol is also present within the reproductive organs. When sperm try to enter the vaginal canal, rather than being able to swim to fertilize an egg, they will instead become overstimulated by the THC. As a result, they can’t fertilize an egg.

Risks in Men

Men who are chronic smokers of marijuana were at an increased risk of developing testicular cancer. The risk is higher in men who smoke for more than ten years, and use the drug more than once a week. The type of cancer is linked to nonseminoma testicular cancer, which can be a difficult cancer to treat, and is a more aggressive form of testicular cancer. Nonseminoma cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells that produce sperm.

Other Adverse Effects

Other effects of marijuana use on the reproductive system include infertility in women, and the potential for offspring to have reduced fertility. A fetus can also be exposed to the THC through the placenta. Impotence in men can also occur. Menstrual abnormalities, lower testosterone, and adverse effects on the fetus may also occur. A concern for women is when THC crosses through the placenta, retardation of fetal growth can happen, as well as expulsion of the fetus.


In addition to risks associated with the reproductive system, marijuana use poses a risk to brain function; it can impair coordination or cause memory loss. It also can increase depression and anxiety, as well as increased heart rate after smoking. It also causes respiratory issues, as well as a decrease in cognitive ability, and impaired judgment.

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  1. Good article

    Provide necessary detail

  2. Nice info….I hope this will help lots of people…It is amazing to read that about 50% people sometime use marijuana in their life in the USA. Here in India, the use of marijuana is also seeing the J-curve…

  3. I would be interested to look at the research used as a basis for claims made in this article. Where can I find the actual research papers and why aren’t they cited here?

  4. Dr. Wood, for whatever reasons, I’m having issues with trying to post the info here. But please feel free to contact me through the triond site,, and type in the name Lost in Arizona, which will pop up this article for you. I can then hopefully transfer the references to you, one is from the Mayo Clinic, another is from the American Academy of Family Physicians. I don’t know why I can’t get the sites to come through on this forum. My apologies.

  5. The author fails to cite any scientific publication to support the erroneous exaggerated claim cannabis is bad for sperm count and motility.

    This spin from prohibitionists stems from the only study pasted below. The dosing on mice is more than 150 strong joints per day for a 154 lb (70 kg.) person.

    1: Andrologia. 1991 Mar-Apr;23(2):151-6.Links
    Quantitative evaluation of spermatogenesis in mice following chronic exposure to cannabinoids.
    Patra PB, Wadsworth RM.

    Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.

    In mice, chronic administration of crude marihuana extract (CME), delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabinol (CBN) (50 mg kg-1 body weight for 15 and 35 days) impaired spermatogenesis at both mitotic and meiotic stages. Although the total number of step 7 spermatids was unaltered, mature spermatozoa recovered from the cauda epididymidis showed severe abnormalities in morphology. Body weight and sex organ weights were not affected markedly but the adrenal gland was hypertrophied. Leydig cell nuclear area was increased by CME and CBD and reduced by CBN. Cannabis deranges several stages of the spermatogenic cycle, most of the activity of the crude extract being attributable to CBN and CBD.

  6. Hey Paul, these facts aren’t erroneous. The studies have been conducted on humans for over thirty years. And there is quite the difference between humans and mice. Once study on mice doesn’t make a valid conclusion. Furthermore, here are the refs.

    The American Academy of Family Physicians-Marijuana: Medical Implications

    National Institute on Drug Abuse-Workshop on Clinical Consequences of Marijuana – Abstracts and Speaker Biographies
    Marijuana and Immune Function in HIV/AIDS Patients and NIDA InfoFacts: Marijuana

    Marijuana may raise testicular cancer risk
    Study: Long-term pot smokers face highest chance of developing disease

    Mayo Clinic-Getting pregnant

    U.S. National Library of Medicine-Acute, short-term, and chronic effects of marijuana on the female primate reproductive function.

    If you want to construct a valid argument, don’t base it on mice.

  7. thank you for this information it helped for my assignment

  8. Simple solution, stop smoking weed a month or two before you want to attempt having kids. Your body will flush the drug, and in short time, your sperm will be fine… No big deal. Toke on

  9. Care to cite any of that? I’ve seen your sources for the last paragraph but what studies prove the rest of this article.

  10. Nevermind someone else did that for you. I just hate crappy articles that don’t show sources.

  11. Wow, really? Look within the comments, the references are there. Not to mention that many studies have been done on reproductive issues associated with smoking marijuana for more than three decades. And I hate to tell you, but all the sources are reputable institutes within the science field. The Lancet isn’t the pariah of medical information, not to mention some of the scientists who have been outed for lies represented within their articles. Get a life guy.

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