With medical and recreational marijuana being legalized in increasing numbers of states, we’re now paying more attention to its possible side effects. New research out of the Boston University School of Public Health has focused on whether using cannabis affects the ability to get pregnant and male fertility. In short, it doesn’t.
The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, was the first to evaluate the link between the average per-cycle probability of conception and marijuana use. Given that infertility costs the American health care system more than $5 billion each year, the researchers were trying to identify potential factors resulting in infertility — especially those like recreational drug use, which could be modified. Since marijuana is the most widely used recreational drug among people of reproductive age, if a connection between the substance and infertility was discovered, it could constitute a public health problem.
“Given the increasing number of states legalizing recreational marijuana across the nation, we thought it was an opportune time to investigate the association between marijuana use and fertility,” lead author Lauren Wise, professor of epidemiology, said in a statement.
The study relied on data from the Pregnancy Study Online, which collects pregnancy data from women aged 21 to 45 living in the United States and Canada, most of whom are in stable relationships with a partner and not using birth control or fertility treatments. A total of 1,125 couples (consisting of a male and female partner) enrolled in the study together, allowing researchers to get an inside look into both partners’ lifestyles and habits.
After taking marijuana use and ability to conceive into account, researchers found that using the drug did not impact fertility in either men or women. They did, however, caution against reading too much into these findings, as they didn’t control for the amount of marijuana participants used or any long-term effects after chronic use. Given the increasing usage of the drug across different parts of the population, additional research will likely take place to provide firmer answers to those looking to conceive.