A compound which is similar to chemicals found in marijuana can help a heavy smoker’s sperm bind to eggs more effectively, said researchers from Buffalo and Boston, at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

The same researchers had previously shown that most sperm of smokers were significantly less able to bind to an egg, when compared to the sperm of non-smokers. They wanted to find out wether treating a smoker’s sperm with a marijuana-like compound might improve sperm binding. Human sperm have chemical receptors which respond to nicotine and marijuana-like compounds (cannabinoids).

This study involved eight volunteers – they were all heavy smokers. Four of them had normal sperm function, while the other four had reduced sperm function. Some of their sperm was washed in a regular medium and some was washed in a a low-concentration cannabinoid solution.

They found that the sperm of the smokers who had reduced sperm function improved significantly after being washed in the low-concentration cannabinoid solution, while the sperm of the smokers with normal function did not.

When the researchers used a solution with a higher concentration of cannabinoid, both groups had improved sperm function.

Craig Niederberger, MD, President of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology (SMRU) said, “Numerous studies have shown that tobacco smoking is harmful to parents, and to their unborn and living children. It is important to note that in this study, sperm were washed with the active chemical in marijuana, as it is also known that smoking or taking marijuana in other ways harms a man’s fertility. But the best way to improve a smoker’s overall health, his fertility, and the health of his family is to help him quit smoking.”

“Fertility loss in the sperm of tobacco smokers may be reversed after washing with a cannabinoid agonist”
L. J. Burkman, S. Tambar, A. Makriyannis, M. Bodziak, R. Mroz, B. Telesz

Written by: Christian Nordqvist
Editor: Medical News Today