Just a little story in the beginning: Markus and his girlfriend want to get pregnant and they try for over one year now but nothing happens. Every month when Mia gets her menses she is sad and blames Markus. She cries:” I try everything to make things better, but you smoke and you drink! And those joints you smoke don’t do anything better.” Markus is upset: “Why should I stop smoking and drinking – I am not the one who carries out the baby. And what is your problem now with me consuming marijuana? People take it as medicine. There is nothing bad about it!”

What would you tell Markus as health professional when he comes to visit you? Does it really don’t matter because he isn’t the one who carries out the baby? For a long time preconception health care has been considered only concerning women but in fact preconception health care is a topic which is equally relevant for men. So, when you make bad lifestyle choices both men and women can pay a high price namely our fertility. Semen quality decreases and problems with the menstrual cycle occur when consuming alcohol or cigarettes. The only recommendation considering these bad lifestyle choices is to quit consuming when wanting to have a baby.

Bringing together the facts on the impact of illicit drugs on male and female fertility things get a little harder. Extremely scarce studies investigated the effects of illicit drugs on female fertility and specific actions of selected drugs have been difficult to address because there is often multidrug consumption when people take illicit drugs. One of the best examined illicit drugs concerning the impact on female fertility seems to be marijuana which has effects on the menstrual cycle phase. A decrease of progesterone and LH level and increase of anovulatory cycles occur. So researchers assume that there is an association between consume of marijuana and ovulatory infertility.

Also looking at illicit drugs and male fertility most studies investigate the consumption of marijuana on male fertility. Consumption of marijuana affects the sperm function and also the libido. Small doses can increase the sexual drive but chronic abuse of marijuana leads to a decreased libido. Furthermore, a lower sperm concentration has been found within investigations. Some studies also examined the abuse of cocaine and its effects on male fertility. Chronic use of cocaine can lead to an alteration of sperm parameters with a decreased count, motility and typical morphology of spermatozoa. There is still a lack of evidence if there is an overrepresentation of meh using cocaine in cohorts of infertility.

What about Markus’ argument that many people take marijuana for medical purposes and that it can’t be harmful then? Should doctors be aware about possible fertility problems when prescribing medical marijuana? For the moment there is no proof that medical marijuana makes any difference considering fertility issues. Consume of marijuana can have negative impact on male and female fertility. Therefore, also those factors should be considered by doctors when prescribing medical marijuana therapies.


Melanie Breznik, BSc MA Senior Lecturer Department of Nursing

Carinthian University of Applied Sciences

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