Marijuana Use and Fertility: The Link Between Men and Autism in Their Children
Given the increased prevalence of marijuana use in the United States and the growing number of states that have legalized its use since 2012, studies are being conducted addressing the implications of such use not only in those using marijuana but in their offspring as well. A recent study from Duke University has found an association between marijuana use and fertility, specifically within men and autism in their children.
How Does Marijuana Use Affect Fertility
Marijuana can adversely affect male and female fertility. Men who regularly use marijuana have lower sperm volume than men who do not use it. Marijuana also makes sperm less fertile, even if it is the woman who uses marijuana and not the man, since THC appears in their reproductive organs and vaginal fluids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are two natural compounds found in cannabis. THC can disrupt the menstrual cycle, suppress egg maturation, and adversely affect egg and embryo quality. Implantation is less likely to occur in women who use marijuana, and should pregnancy occur, the risk of miscarriage is also increased.
Marijuana Use and Fertility In Men and Autism in Their Children
How is marijuana use in men associated with autism in their offspring? A specific gene associated with autism appears to undergo changes in the sperm of men who use marijuana. There is the unfounded perception that using marijuana is benign. This perception is not true. No matter the form of marijuana imbibed (inhalation or edible), marijuana and its metabolic products and derivatives adversely affect hormone levels and sperm production. In fact, many insurers that cover fertility do not cover fertility services if one of the partners uses marijuana and demand proof of cessation in the form of urine drug testing before they will approve coverage for infertility. And while we’re putting the focus on men for the purpose of this article, marijuana use and fertility from the perspective of increased risk of autism is not exclusive to one sex. Women using marijuana while pregnant also increases the risk of autism spectrum disorder as well.
If you would like to find out more about marijuana use and fertility or would like to schedule a time to speak with one of our doctors, please contact us today for a free initial consultation.