Marijuana may affect fertility in young men

June 6th, 2014

> on March 25, 2010 in Berkeley, California.“If you’re a cannabis user and you’re trying for a baby … stop.”

This advice comes from Dr. Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and lead author of a new study that suggests using marijuana could increase a man’s risk of fertility problems.

The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, looked at how a man’s lifestyle affects his sperm morphology: the size and shape of sperm. Researchers collected data from 1,970 men who provided semen as part of a fertility assessment.

All of the lifestyle information was self-reported, and researchers made no attempt to confirm accuracy. Of those men, 318 produced abnormal sperm, where less than 4% of it was the correct size and shape (as defined by the World Health Organization). The remaining men’s sperm had a higher percentage at a “normal” size and shape.

“Cannabis smoking was more common in those men who had sperm morphology less than 4%,” Pacey said. “Cannabis affects one of the processes involved in determining size and shape. And we also know that the way cannabis is metabolized is different in fertile and infertile men.”

The study found that men who had less than 4% normal sperm were typically under 30 years old, had used marijuana within three months of giving their sample and were twice as likely to have provided their sample during the summer.

Any of those factors could have influenced sperm morphology, but Pacey said “the only thing we found that was a risk that a man can do something about was cannabis.”

The researchers did not set out to study cannabis; they were simply collecting data about men’s lifestyles to identify risks to fertility. They looked at a number of possibilities, including cigarettes, alcohol, recreational drug use, employment history, BMI, medical history and the type of underwear the men wore. The researchers concluded that none of these were factors.

A third of all infertility cases are linked to the male partner, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (PDF). The society says marijuana is associated with impaired sperm function and should not be used by men trying to conceive.

Society President Rebecca Sokol says the study confirms previous studies that found a possible but not proven link between abnormal semen and sperm function and the use of cannabis. But she warns that the study does not have enough cases to draw definite conclusions.

“The take-home lesson of the article is that clinicians should counsel their patients on the possible relationships between lifestyle factors, abnormal semen parameters and fertility outcomes,” Sokol said. “This should include a discussion that the data are often inconclusive, but the motto ‘everything in moderation’ is a wise approach for the couple who is planning a pregnancy.”

Another paper on the health consequences of cannabis was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and a team of the institute’s researchers prepared a paper detailing the risks based on the strongest scientific evidence currently available. According to the paper, they wanted to dispel “the popular notion that marijuana is a harmless pleasure” and does not need to be regulated.

The paper details what the research shows are the adverse effects of recreational use, including the risks of addiction. Approximately 9% of those who try marijuana will become addicted; one in six of those who start as teenagers and 25% to 50% of those who smoke daily become addicted.

The researchers also wrote about the harmful effects of cannabis use on brain development, especially in kids and teenagers. Preliminary research shows that adolescents who are early-onset smokers are slower at tasks, have lower IQs later in life and have an increased incidence of psychotic disorders.

Other problems associated with marijuana use, according to the paper, include impaired short-term memory and motor coordination, altered judgment, effects on school performance, a higher risk of motor-vehicle accidents and higher risk of cancer and other health issues like heart disease and stroke.

“There is a widespread and growing perception among not only youth, but the public in general, that marijuana is a relatively harmless drug, and it has been difficult marshaling science to correct this perception,” Volkov said. “The science of marijuana is far from settled, and this has allowed advocates of various positions to cherry-pick evidence to support their particular stance.”

The review also lists some of the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis. Conditions and symptoms that may be helped by marijuana treatment include glaucoma, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, nausea, inflammation and AIDS-related anorexia and wasting syndrome, according to the report.

Volkow and her fellow researchers fear that as governments begin to modify marijuana policy toward legalization, recreational use will increase, as will a host of negative health problems.

However, Mason Tvert, communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project, says the report by the National Institute on Drug abuse researchers is not an objective review of current scientific evidence.

The Marijuana Policy Project has worked to reform marijuana policies and laws since 1995 at both the federal and state level. It lobbies for legislation that would replace marijuana prohibition in favor of legal regulation. It provided much of the staff and funding in the push to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older in Colorado in 2012, and its goal is to pass, by 2017, at least 10 more laws that would regulate cannabis like alcohol.

“NIDA has long been criticized for prioritizing politics over science,” Tvert said. “They fail to acknowledge any of the well-known research that refutes, and in some cases completely debunks, their conclusions. This more closely resembles a poorly written college essay … than it does an objective, evidence-based journal article. Every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it poses far less harm than alcohol to the consumer and to society.”

Post by: Saundra Young – CNN Medical Senior Producer
Filed under: Fertility • Marijuana • Men’s Health

Simple Ways to Become more Fertile

June 2nd, 2014

Are you and your partner trying to conceive ( Sometimes it seems like those who don’t want kids are the most fertile, while those who are trying have to jump through all kinds of hoops. Even if you haven’t had any trouble, are just starting out or are just concerned about fertility in the future or your sexual health in general, there are simple ways to become more fertile. First, try to eat a diet containing foods rich in antioxidants. Free radicals in the body not only prematurely age cells they also impair sperm function. Green tea, whole grains, broccoli, garlic and berries are loaded with these free radical destroying compounds. If you want even more protection why not take a supplement? In a study found in a recent issue of Fertility and Sterility men who popped one capsule per day of the supplement called CoQ10 had better sperm motility or the sperm’s ability to swim vigorously, and increased spontaneous fertilization by 13.6%. Do you like tomato soup? In addition to being delicious it could also help ramp up your fertility. According to a recent study out of the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. a bowl of tomato soup a day can increase your fertility. Researchers had first noticed that men who were infertile had decreased amounts of lycopene in their sperm. The processing of tomato soup actually makes it easier for the system to absorb the nutrients it contains. In their study men of an average age of 42 saw the lycopene levels of their semen increase 12% after eating tomato soup every day for two weeks while lowering their risk of prostate cancer.
Drinking plenty of water is great for your overall health and essential to your sexual health. But toxins in the water table and pollution can make its way to your tap. Do you filter your tap water at home? Three university’s in the U.K. did studies and found that substances called anti-androgens are found in drinking water. These are hormone blockers that halt the production of sperm. Male fish have actually turned female, a processes called “feminization.” Over 1,000 fish were used in these studies. Ejaculating daily can improve the quality of your sperm by 12%. So let your lady know that’s why you need some alone time. For some men the chemicals from the air, water and the food we eat leads to a buildup of estrogen in the body. Start your day with half a lemon squeezed into a cup of warm or even hot water. It will clean out those toxins, setting your body’s biochemistry straight and getting rid of those chemicals that often turn into female hormones. Eat lots of foods containing amino acids such as eggs. These increase sperm production. Eat more pomegranate, it’s great for sperm production, lifts your libido and aids in blood flow. Try drinking some ginseng tea in the morning. Research has shown it improves sperm motility. It is also a sleep aid. Exercise, eating a healthy diet and managing depression, anxiety and stress are also important for maintaining sexual health and making/ keeping yourself fertile.


Male Hypogonadism

May 27th, 2014


Male hypogonadism is where the testes do not produce enough testosterone ( You can be born with it or it can develop due to infection or injury. The kind you are born with can effect growth and development during puberty. Later on in life it can effect sperm production. How it is treated depends upon what stage of life it occurred and what caused it.  Testosterone replacement therapy may be appropriate for certain types of male hypogonadism. During development in the fetus, if not enough testosterone is produced it can impede male sex organ growth. This may cause the development of female genitalia, ambiguous genitals or underdeveloped male genitalia. During puberty male hypogonadism may decrease muscle mass development, delay the deepening of the voice, impede testicle and penis growth, obstruct the growth of body hair and breast tissue known as gynecomastia may develop. In adults hypogonadism may cause physical and reproductive side effects. These include infertility, erectile dysfunction, decreased body or facial hair, lower muscle mass, osteoporosis or bone loss and gynecomastia or the development of breast tissue. Emotional and mental changes can also occur similar to menopause in women such as lower libido, fatigue, hot flashes and trouble concentrating.


If you feel like you have this condition or even a few of the symptoms see your physician right away. Finding the cause is the first step. There are two kinds, primary and secondary hypogonadism. In the primary variety, the problem originates in the testicles where testosterone is produced. In the secondary type, the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus may be the culprit. This is the gland and the part of the brain that signals the testes to produce testosterone. Whatever the type, the results are the same, whether it be congenital hypogonadism or when someone is born with the condition, or acquired hypogonadism as the result of infection or injury. Causes for primary hyopgonadism include undescended testicles, a mumps infection, hemochromatosis or too much iron in the blood, an injury to the testicles themselves, chemo and radiation therapy. For the secondary variety, causes include pituitary disorders, Kallmann syndrome or a development of the hypothalamus considered abnormal, HIV/AIDS, chronic inflammation due to an infection, obesity, chronic illness, normal aging and certain medications. Your primary healthcare provider will give you an exam. Possible tests that may be administered include a semen analysis, hormone testing, genetic tests or even a testicular biopsy. As for treatment there are patches, gels, injections, and hormone replacement therapy. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of hypogonadism.


Teen Pregnancies Plunge

May 6th, 2014


U.S. rates fell more than 50% across all ethnicities from 1990 to 2010, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute.

Nationwide, teen pregnancy, birth and abortion rates have plunged, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health research and education organization. From 1990 to 2010, the U.S. pregnancy rate for 15-to-19-year-olds fell by 51%, with approximately 614,000 occurring in 2010.

A drop in pregnancies was seen across racial and ethnic groups, though Hispanic and black teens got pregnant at nearly three times the rate of their white peers. In 1990 the white-teen pregnancy rate was 86.6 per 1,000 vs. 223.8 per 1,000 for black teens. In 2010 the rates had fallen to 37.8 per 1,000 for whites and 99.5 per 1,000 for blacks. Among Hispanic teens, the pregnancy rate fell from a high of 169.7 per 1,000 in 1992 to 83.5 per 1,000 in 2010.

Similarly, there was a 66% decline in abortions from 1998 to 2010, when there were a reported 14.7 abortions per 1,000 women. Teen birthrates fell by 44% from 1991 to 2010, with about 34.4 births per 1,000 women.

“The decline in the teen pregnancy rate is great news,” lead author Kathryn Kost said in a statement. “Other reports had already demonstrated sustained declines in births among teens in the past few years; but now we know that this is due to the fact that fewer teens are becoming pregnant in the first place. It appears that efforts to ensure teens can access the information and contraceptive services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies are paying off.”

In response to the decline, the vice president of education for Planned Parenthood Leslie Kantorsaid in a statement, “Planned Parenthood is thrilled to see a record low in teen pregnancy rates in this country.”


What Americans Think About Birth Control Coverage

April 23rd, 2014

Alexandra Sifferlin

69% of surveyed Americans support coverage for birth control

There’s debate over whether all health plans in the United States should be required to cover the cost of birth control. An overwhelming majority of Americans—69%—say yes, according to a breaking survey published in the journal JAMA.

While this suggests the issue is less divisive than previously thought, it’s still a hot-button topic in the courts. In June, the Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision in the Hobby Lobby case, in which the owners of the arts-and-crafts chain, who are Southern Baptists, contend that their right to exercise religious freedom are infringed upon by the Affordable Care Act provision requiring them to guarantee no-cost birth control and emergency contraceptive coverage for their employees.

Although most Americans are in favor of the mandated birth control coverage—77% of women and 64% of men—it was the least agreed upon when compared with other health services under the ACA provision. Coverage of preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies, vaccinations, mental health care, and dental care all had more support than mandatory contraceptive coverage, according to the JAMA poll. (Birth control coverage has the most support among women, and black and Hispanic respondents.)

The researchers hope their data can be used to inform the ongoing national debate over contraceptive coverage.