Healthy Living: Marijuana & Infertility

In this weeks "Healthy Living", we're focusing on marijuana and infertility in men.  Doctors at the University of Washington Medical Center have been studying a link between the two and are concerned about the negative impact pot may have on men's reproductive health.

Dr. Thomas Walsh from the UW Medicine's Men's Health Center says, "It's well known that Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the active ingredient, or at least one of the active ingredients of marijuana, is a direct inhibitor of sperm production and of the sperm mobility apparatus."

In addition, Dr. Walsh says sperm counts are declining and at this point experts can't fully explain why.  However, as more states legalize recreational marijuana, including Washington, he says new data on sperm count and pot use will be easier to collect.  For that reason, he says the implications of this are very important as we see marijuana use on the rise, we need to monitor and study it very closely.

It's also important to point out pot may not just be impacting men.   Fertility in woman may also be impacted by marijuana.

According to the UW's Alcohol and Drug Institute, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among women of reproductive age, and of pregnant women.  Although the risks to the baby aren't completely known, experts say THC, the active ingredient in pot, can cross the placental barrier and is secreted into breast milk of nursing mothers.  That is why doctors strongly suggest mothers who are breastfeeding, are pregnant or who are trying to become pregnant do not use marijuana.

If you would like to read more about drugs that can impact fertility.  Check out this link from UW Medicine.