Does Marijuana Cause Infertility?

Woman concerned about marijuana and infertility holding her abdomen
Research Shows a Relationship between Smoking Marijuana and Infertility. Nisian Hughes / Lifesize / Getty Images

Are Use of Marijuana and Infertility Related?

The question, does marijuana cause infertility, is the subject of debate. While marijuana and fertility have a controversial relationship, there are lessons to be learned from the research.

Perhaps because marijuana is considered to be such a harmless drug -- which, by the way, isn't true -- many couples attempting to conceive think that smoking marijuana is safe during this time.

Some even consider it an aphrodisiac, particularly if they have used marijuana before sex in the past.

Fertility clinics may not consistently screen parents for marijuana use, and even if they do, couples may be reluctant to admit to marijuana use because of the illegal status of the drug, and worries that substance use may not make them appear to be suitable parents. This results in couples struggling with failed fertility treatments who are continuing to use marijuana, not realizing that they are wasting their money on the treatment while thwarting their own attempts at becoming parents.  Sadly, the stress of infertility may even make people less willing to quit marijuana, because they think it will help them relax. And because the effects of alcohol on the fetus and FASD are so well known, couples attempting to conceive may even use it as a substitute for alcohol.

How Does Marijuana Affect Fertility?

Research now demonstrates that marijuana has several effects on fertility.

Even before intercourse take place, marijuana decreases libido. And if you aren't feeling in the mood, it's that much more difficult to get started.

Then there are effects on the male sexual response. Marijuana has been found to increase impotence. Impotence can be very hard on a man's self esteem, so if there is increased pressure to perform in order to start a pregnancy, it can lead to more difficulties within the couple's relationship.

And when a man is able to perform sexually, his sperm production will be poorer, leading to a lower sperm count, and as those sperm that are produced don't swim properly, it makes it harder for them to reach and penetrate the woman's egg before burning out.

Research published in 2015 looking at the effects of marijuana use on the fertility of 1,215 young men aged 18–28 years found that regular marijuana smoking more than once per week was associated with a 28% lower sperm concentration and a 29% lower total sperm count. The combined use of marijuana more than once per week and other recreational drugs reduced the sperm concentration by 52% and total sperm count by 55%.

However, it's not just men who are affected by marijuana. The ovulation and menstrual process is also disrupted by marijuana use, and marijuana has a nasty habit of staying around in the body longer that most other drugs, meaning it affects the prenatal environment, even if you quit as soon as you know you are pregnant.

Obviously, if you are both smoking marijuana, you are massively increasing the chances of infertility as a couple, because with less sexual desire, a greater chance of impotence, fewer and weaker sperm, a lower chance of a viable egg, and a marijuana tainted uterus, the chances of getting pregnant are much lower.

Marijuana Use While Parenting

Another problem is that many people have a more difficult time quitting marijuana than they expect. Then if either or both parents still use marijuana when the baby arrives, you are increasing the risk that your child will use drugs in the future.

Overall, the evidence is quite convincing that marijuana is best put behind you both before you start trying to get pregnant. And this provides an opportunity to think about new shared activities that can include your children.


Gundersen, T., Jørgensen., N., Andersson, A., Bang, A., Nordkap, L., Skakkebæk, N., Priskorn, L.,Juul, A.,and Jensen, T. Association Between Use of Marijuana and Male Reproductive Hormones and Semen Quality: A Study Among 1,215 Healthy Young Men. Am. J. Epidemiol. 182 (6): 473-481. 2015. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwv135

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