Find out if smoking marijuana will get in the way of getting pregnant Some recent studies suggest that marijuana can negatively affect fertility in both men and women. Read the article to learn about the correlation between marijuana and fertility to get informed about the latest findings. Learn about whether marijuana can cause infertility, including a review of research on marijuana's effects on women and men.
Will using marijuana affect our chances of getting pregnant?
It may. Some studies have shown that using marijuana repeatedly is associated with significantly lower concentrations of reproductive hormones in both men and women.
Lower concentrations of the hormone testosterone may result in decreased sperm counts in men. And lower dehydroepiandrosterone may affect egg production in women.
In addition, THC (one of the active ingredients in pot) makes its way into the reproductive tract of women using marijuana and reduces sperm mobility, decreasing the chances of fertilization.
Perhaps the best reason to give up drugs now is that it’s not safe to use pot during pregnancy.
Some studies suggest that using marijuana regularly during pregnancy puts your baby at higher risk for premature birth and low birth weight. And because smoking weed (or tobacco) increases carbon monoxide levels in the bloodstream, the baby gets less oxygen, which may affect his growth.
Other studies show that children exposed to marijuana in their mothers’ wombs have different brain activity and more disturbed sleeping patterns as toddlers. They may also eventually suffer from depression or have behavior problems, such as impulsiveness and attention deficits. And some studies point to a link between prenatal marijuana exposure and lower school test scores.
Plus, it can be difficult to tell if the pot you’re getting is pure. It may be contaminated with other drugs or herbicides that could put your baby-to-be at even greater risk. Even legal dispensaries are not closely regulated, although some claim that their products have been approved or certified.
If you use pot, I suggest waiting a month or so after your last hit before trying to conceive since it takes that long to get all traces of the drug out of your system.
If you’re using marijuana for medicinal purposes, talk with your healthcare provider about your plans to become pregnant. She may be able to suggest a safer alternative.
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Burkman LJ, et al. 2003. Marijuana impacts sperm function both in vivo and in vitro: Semen analyses from men smoking marijuana. Fertility and Sterility 80(3):231. http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282%2803%2901534-6/fulltext [Accessed June 2016]
Fried PA, et al. 2003. Differential effects on cognitive functioning in 13- to 16-year-olds prenatally exposed to cigarettes and marihuana. Neurotoxicology and Teratology 25(4):427-36.
Goldschmidt L, et al. 2008. Prenatal marijuana exposure and intelligence test performance at age 6. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolesceny Psychiatry 47(3):254-63. [Accessed June 2016]
Goldschmidt L, et al. 2004. Prenatal marijuana and alcohol exposure and academic achievement at age 10. Neurotoxicology and Teratology 26(4):521–32. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15203174 [Accessed June 2016]
Goldschmidt L, et al. 2000. Effects of prenatal marijuana exposure on child behavior problems at age 10. Neurotoxicology and Teratology 22(3):325-36.
Three Ways Marijuana Can Affect Fertility
Some studies show that marijuana use negatively affects fertility in men and women. Many articles and physicians advise against using marijuana while trying to get pregnant to reduce the risks of infertility. Learn more about the warnings signs of infertility and discover how you can develop healthy habits to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
Anna Klepchukova, MD
1. Ovulation delay
Scientists aren’t sure exactly how THC affects the sexual function of women attempting to get pregnant. THC affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, which controls how your sex hormones interact. Continuous exposure to THC can inhibit the secretion of luteinizing hormone and prolactin from the pituitary gland in males and females. These hormones influence your chances of getting pregnant.
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In women, high THC doses interfere with the menstrual cycle and may delay or prevent ovulation. Cannabinoids inhibit the activity of the HPG axis, meaning that marijuana use decreases the production of several hormones and can inhibit sexual behavior — if your sex drive is down, this can also hinder your efforts to conceive.
Regular smokers may have an elevated risk of not ovulating at all. A 2016 report also suggests marijuana disrupts the menstrual cycle and can lead to anovulatory cycles (cycles without ovulation).
In general, it’s thought that marijuana can affect the production of luteinizing hormone in women. LH regulates testosterone production in men and stimulates female ovulation. When men smoke frequently, they tend to have lower levels of testosterone, and women who smoke frequently have less LH.
In addition to marijuana use, it’s important to examine other causes of late ovulation so you can put yourself in the best position for a successful pregnancy.
2. Lower sperm count
According to the Mayo Clinic, marijuana use can impair a man’s sperm count and ability to reproduce. Other research has suggested that marijuana is bad for men’s fertility.
However, a Harvard study surprisingly refutes those findings and states that there’s no evidence of harmful effects on fertility. In the study, researchers collected blood samples and semen from hundreds of volunteers at the Massachusetts General Hospital fertility clinic. In the study, which ran from 2000 to 2017, men were asked about their marijuana use. The results showed no correlation between marijuana use and male fertility.
Since there isn’t a conclusive determination on the subject, if you have a male partner who smokes, try to discourage him from doing so while you are trying to conceive — especially if his sperm count is low.
3. Deterioration of existing fertility problems
There’s no conclusive evidence that marijuana use causes infertility, but research has found that it can lower sperm count, increase anovulatory cycles, and disrupt the balance of hormones in the body that encourage pregnancy.
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How Marijuana Can Affect Fertility
Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada.
Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Although the link between marijuana and fertility is not straightforward—plenty of marijuana smokers get pregnant and get their partners pregnant—some research has demonstrated that marijuana use can negatively impact you, your partner, or the fertility of both of you.
Research suggests that marijuana can negatively affect female fertility in the following ways:
- Decreases libido. Even before intercourse takes place, marijuana use may decreases libido. And if you aren’t feeling in the mood, it’s that much more difficult to get started.
- Increases the risk of miscarriage. Marijuana use also increases the risk of miscarriage. Marijuana is known to cross the placenta and may pose a risk to the fetus, although the effects of marijuana exposure in the womb are not as well documented as the effects of alcohol and some other drugs.
Furthermore, the effects of marijuana on fertility seem to accumulate over time. This means that although teenage girls who smoke marijuana are more likely to get pregnant, by the time a chronic marijuana smoking woman is in her mid-twenties, she may be more likely to experience a delay in getting pregnant.
Despite the relaxation effects that many people associate with marijuana use, research has shown marijuana has negative effects on the male sexual response.
- Increases impotence. Cannabis use has been associated with sexual dysfunction, which can also have negative effects on the male ego. If your partner has been impotent, he may be feeling more pressure to have sex to get you pregnant, but be frustrated with his inability to do so. This can lead to misunderstandings between you that make it more difficult to have sex.
- May lead to premature ejaculation. Marijuana use has been associated with premature ejaculation.
- May decrease sperm count. A regular smoker of marijuana has a risk of having a lower sperm count.
- Affects sperm structure and function. Additionally, the sperm produced by marijuana smoking has been associated with abnormal morphology (shape) and motility (its ability to “swim” and fertilize the egg).
Quit to Prepare for Parenthood
Obviously, if you are both smoking marijuana, you risk increasing the chances of infertility as a couple.
Quitting marijuana can be harder than many long-term marijuana users expect, so you and your partner would be wise to quit as soon as possible, while you still have time to get help before getting pregnant. If either or both parents still use marijuana when the baby arrives, you are increasing the risk that your child may use drugs in the future, and parental drug use is implicated in many difficulties for children and families.
Your family doctor can help you with a referral to a counselor or clinic that can help you both quit. Couples counseling, which is offered by many addiction clinics, would be particularly helpful at this time. If you are already engaged in infertility treatment, coming clean about your marijuana could save you a lot of time, money, and heartache, if marijuana is one of the culprits for your difficulties with conception.
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Bari M, Battista N, Pirazzi V, Maccarrone M. The manifold actions of endocannabinoids on female and male reproductive events. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2011;16:498-516. doi:10.2741/3701