As the US has a conversation about masculinity, there is a notion that marijuana lowers male testosterone. The imagine of the couch sitting stoner being lazy is ingrained in our mind. For those who remember the 70s Show, the older store owner was a true stoner hippie model.
Testosterone is a sex hormone that plays important roles in the body. In men, it’s thought to regulate sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, and the production of red blood cells and sperm. Combined with estrogen, the female sex hormone, testosterone helps women with growth, maintenance, and repair of a woman’s reproductive tissues, bone mass, and human behaviors
The relationship between marijuana and testosterone is complicated. Thankfully, there are more funds available for research today and we are unpacking data to figure out more benefits and drawbacks of cannabis.
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A 2018 study in Andrology looked at healthy guys without clinically low T who had consumed marijuana at some point in the last five years. Researchers found that healthy guys who had smoked within the last 30 days had higher serum testosterone levels compared with those who hadn’t imbibed in a while. Another study, published in the World Journal of Urology in 2020 found similar results—that marijuana use was associated with small increases in testosterone.
It is worth noting that even the non-spiked levels were still clinically healthy, points out Jonathon Lisano, Ph.D., postdoctoral associate at the University of Colorado Boulder who studies the effects of cannabis on health and exercise.
Studies found that heavy alcohol consumption results in reduced testosterone levels in the blood. Alcohol also impairs the function of the testicular Sertoli cells that play an important role in sperm maturation. It stands to reason that heavy use of marijuana would lead to the same thing.
Chronic use of marijuana may impact male fertility and reproductive outcomes, says a new report published online in the journal Fertility & Sterility Oregon Health & Science University. Using non-human primates, the study is the first to assess the impacts of substance use on testicular function via a mode of delivery, and dosage, that reflects current human consumption.
So what does it mean? Mostly like it means if you are already healthy – moderation over daily, exercise over couch surfing, and maintain a balance.
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There is much to weigh about the benefits of marijuana and especially medical marijuana and more research needs to be done.