There is a popular narrative around the anti-cannabis lobby: according to which increased legal access to cannabis, medical or otherwise, will lead to a male fertility crisis with chopped testosterone and excessively chilled sperm and quite without direction.
However, if we move to the available human data, any marijuana-induced hysteria caused by marijuana in the media seems to be largely unfounded. In contrast, evidence suggests that regular cannabis use may affect testosterone levels. Some studies have suggested that regular cannabis use decreases testosterone, and others actually correlate cannabis use with increased testosterone levels. The importance of the connection between cannabis and testosterone levels has yet to be fully understood.
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CBD oil and testosterone
Before we delve into most of what we know about cannabis and testosterone, it’s important to be clear that we’ll be talking mostly about THC, as so far little research has been done on the oil and testosterone of CBD.
Although a 2020 review of preclinical studies from the PubMed database suggested that “it is possible to conclude that CBD has negative effects on the male reproductive system,” the authors were very clear that more research is needed to see if these less than favorable results are applicable. in humans and in what doses.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone, sometimes just called “T”, is a male reproductive hormone, mainly produced in the testicles. Although it is mostly considered a male hormone, it is also produced in small amounts in women. It is responsible for a large number of important functions, such as sexual desire, fertility, storage and burning of fat, muscle mass, red blood cell production and even the regulation of the state of anim.
Most of us know the biological changes experienced by boys at the onset of puberty and it is probably not surprising to hear that a dramatic increase in testosterone production is responsible for the deepening of the voices, body hair, increase of muscle mass, penis and testicles. sperm growth and production
In fact, during adolescence and the twenties, testosterone levels are at their peak, after which there is a slow decline accelerated by factors such as alcohol consumption, exposure to toxins, obesity, heavy metals and pesticides. Signs of low testosterone levels in men include low libido, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, low mood, loss of muscle strength and brain fog.
The use of illicit drugs is often added to the list of contributing factors, but curiously commonly prescribed pain medications, such as prescription opioids and even ibuprofen, can also prematurely reduce blood sugar levels. testosterone in young men.
Although we generally think of testosterone as a male hormone, it is also found in women and, conversely, estrogen can, a form of the female hormone estrogen, also play an important role in male sexual health. Although they are present, they are present in different amounts between men and women and, in fact, it is these gender differences in our hormones that experts think can contribute to the differences in the way men and women. they experience cannabis.
Cannabis, testosterone and the endocannabinoid system
The average cannabis user probably won’t spend too much time considering the biology behind the high sensation they experience when they enjoy weeds.
In fact, it was not until the 1990s that researchers discovered the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a vast network of special receptors in the brain and body activated by cannabis-like chemicals, which even the scientific community began to understand. marijuana intoxicants. They realized that THC adapts to these receptors as a key that opens a lock, which in turn creates a cascade of effects throughout the body.
The endocannabinoid system itself is understood as a homeostatic regulator, which constantly works to maintain balance in all physiological systems. Not only can endocannabinoid receptors be found in the male reproductive system, such as the testis, prostate, vas deferens, and sperm, but other components of the ECS such as endocannabinoid andandamide and the enzyme responsible for its degradation, the amide fatty acid hydrolase (FAAH), have been localized in testicular tissues. 3
The fact that testosterone-releasing leydig cells also contain CB1 endocannabinoid receptors has led researchers to conclude that ECS plays an important role in maintaining healthy levels of testosterone production.
Interestingly, in a 2001 study on mice, it was found that anandamide, which acts similarly to THC by binding to CB receptors, suppresses testosterone levels, powerfully fueling the theory that THC should do the same. . 4
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THC and testosterone: the evidence
Although several preclinical animal studies have suggested that THC administration reduces testosterone levels, research in humans has been much less conclusive and does not show that marijuana reduces testosterone.
In a 2018 study designed to estimate the effect of cannabis use on U.S. men, 1577 men were asked about their frequency of marijuana use and combined with serum testosterone levels.
No difference in testosterone levels was detected between men who had used cannabis at some point in their lives and those who had never tried it. However, serum testosterone levels were higher in men who had recently consumed cannabis, indicating that any change is related to recent cannabis use and not to duration or frequency. 5
However, in Denmark, a study of 1,215 young men found rather contradictory results for marijuana and men’s reproductive health. On the one hand, sperm concentration and sperm count were almost 30% lower in those who consumed cannabis once a week, while testosterone levels were rather counterintuitively higher and within the same range as cigarette smokers (tobacco use has been shown to increase testosterone levels). Additional research is required to examine the effect that smoking marijuana with tobacco has on testosterone levels compared to other methods of consumption. 6
Can Exposure to Cannabis During Pregnancy Affect Fetal Testosterone?
One of the guaranteed areas to generate debate is whether cannabis is safe to consume during pregnancy. Although the jury is still out and there is no evidence, one study tried to examine whether administering THC to expectant mothers of mice on the 12th day of their pregnancy would affect testosterone levels in their male offspring. At least in this study, both testosterone and luteinizing hormone levels were significantly reduced, while CBD administered on the same day resulted in suboptimal testicular weight.
For ethical reasons, this study is unlikely to be reproduced in humans, but at least be aware that what a mother ingests during pregnancy, whether cannabis or coffee, can have a direct impact on her baby.
Can Cannabis Use Affect Your Sexual Desire?
The fact that recent cannabis use appears to increase testosterone levels seems to stage the theory that marijuana dampens a man’s libido.
Again, numerous studies with animals in particular, from rodents to primates, have suggested that at least THC is a killer of passion. However, when it comes to human beings, once again nothing has been conclusively proven.
Some studies have linked cannabis use to premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction (ED), and when 8650 Australian men were examined for cannabis use and its sexual effects, daily use was correlated with sexual and erectile failure. Women did not suffer the same effects from cannabis use and are actually more likely to reach orgasm if they use cannabis. 7
The correlation does not imply causality
When it comes to marijuana and testosterone, it seems there may be another case of correlation that does not involve causation. Yes, overall testosterone levels may be plummeting in the West and male infertility may increase, but probably higher levels of cannabis use are not to blame and it is certainly not the main reason. Instead, there are likely to be a lot of factors such as excessive opioid use, pesticide use in crops, and rising levels of obesity.