Men may want to take a break from marijuana if they and their partners are trying to get pregnant, a new study suggests.
Researchers at Boston University found that the partners of men who used marijuana more than once a week prior to conception were at twice the risk of miscarrying.
But as long as the men kept their marijuana use to less than once a week, there seemed to be no added risk to their partners’ pregnancies.
Scientists are still in the early stages of working out how cannabis affects fertility s well as fetal development, and the new study looked only at an association, not at how marijuana could disrupt pregnancy, but it may be worth considering for couples trying to start a family.
Scientists have quite well established that compounds in cannabis can be used to treat certain seizure disorders and, for cancer patients undergoing chemo, reduce nausea and improve appetites.
Many chronic and nerve pain patients also swear by it as an alternative to highly-addictive opioids.
Despite the laundry list of benefits of cannabis extolled by dispensaries and CBD sellers – everything from reducing anxiety to fighting cancer – the reality is that there is much we still don’t know for certain about its health effects.
The drug’s legal status is the main reason for our lacking knowledge.
In fact, scientists still struggle to get their hands on marijuana for research because it remains illegal at the federal level.
So researchers get approval from that National Institute on Drug Abuse as as well as the Drug Enforcement to run high quality clinical trials on pot.
Otherwise, they’re stuck with study designs that simply aren’t sufficient to prove, definitively, marijuana’s health effects for better or worse.
The studies that have been done on the effects of marijuana on fertility have come to conclusions that run the gamut from good to bad: Some say that it doesn’t lower the chances of women getting pregnant, others say it may improve sperm count, and still others suggest that men who smoke too much weed have poor quality sperm.
For their latest study, the Boston University team followed 1,413 couples for two months prior to their getting pregnant.
Only a small proportion of the men – 9.3 percent – said they used marijuana less than once a week, and even fewer – 8.3 percent – said they used it more than once a week.
In total, 18.3 percent of the pregnancies ended in miscarriages.
The odds of miscarriage were nearly twice as high if the male half of the couple reported using marijuana more than once a week.
But using marijuana less than once a week was not linked to any difference in miscarriage risk.
The study did not document the women’s marijuana use.
Notably, the rate of miscarriage before the 20th week of pregnancy in the US is about 20 percent, regardless of the number of people that use marijuana.
The research was presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and has not yet been reviewed by other scientists.
Moreover, the study points to the suggestions from prior research that marijuana use has been linked to poor sperm quality and the ‘mixed’ evidence of fertility issues as a result, it doesn’t not itself attempt to explain how or why marijuana might contribute to miscarriages.
Nonetheless, the American College of Gynecology (ACOG) warns that marijuana may interfere with a baby’s brain development, and advises women to stop using marijuana if they are trying to get pregnant.
And as men’s fertility accounts for 40 percent of a couple’s collective fertility, it may be advisable to do the same.