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Marijuana and Sex
Written by Paul

*This article does not support the use of marijuana, especially during pregnancy, and is made available for educational and informational purposes only.

The myths surrounding marijuana are seemingly infinite in number. This article seeks to clarify some common misconceptions surrounding marijuana's effects on the reproductive system. Because of the extensive amount of fabricated, misinformation surrounding this topic, this article includes a bibliography.

One of the most well known myths surrounding marijuana states that it damages human cell tissue. This myth is based primarily on the work of Dr. Gabriel Nahas. Nahas experimented with animal cells isolated in petri dishes. Nahas was able to show that cannabinoids (the primary intoxicating chemicals of marijuana) caused damage to these cells. But, he jumped to the conclusion and stated that the same thing would happen to cells inside a human body. His petri dish to human generalizations were later rejected by the scientific community as invalid (1). This same flawed study also brought about the false claim that marijuana causes chromosome breakage. The National Academy of Sciences has stated that, 'Cannabinoids are neither mutagenic nor carcinogenic (2).'

Another popular myth states that smoking marijuana causes reproductive system damage. In reality, there is no permanent change in reproductive function. Smoking marijuana has been shown to temporarily lower sperm counts in humans, but the sperm levels return to normal once marijuana consumption had ceased (3).

Another false claim states that marijuana lowers male testosterone levels. This claim is a scare tactic that is still widely used by the United States government. The hope is to scare boys/young men into believing that marijuana use would "turn" them into women. Low testosterone levels are associated with underdevelopment of the growing male body, a higher pitched voice, and slight breast enlargement. This theory has been challenged/refuted by several studies: Block, 1991; Mendelson et al., 1974; Coggins et al., 1976 (3). Significantly less information is available on the effects of cannabinoids on women. One study suggests that ovulation may be slightly disrupted due to marijuana consumption. Not one single case of impaired fertility has ever been recorded in humans of either gender due to marijuana (4).

One of the most controversial myths surrounding marijuana is the use of it during pregnancy. It is recommended that an expecting mother not use any drug. However, there is extremely little evidence implicating it in fetal harm (unlike alcohol, cocaine, or tobacco). Epidemiological studies have found no evidence of birth defects as a result of marijuana consumption. A study by Dr. Susan Astley at the University of Washington refuted an earlier work suggesting that marijuana might cause fetal alcohol syndrome.

Some debatable research suggests that prenatal marijuana consumption is linked to slightly lower birth weight and length. Another well-controlled study discovered that marijuana use had a positive impact on birth weight during the third trimester of pregnancy with no behavioral consequences evident in the child. Another study that followed expecting Jamaican mothers, who smoked pot throughout their pregnancies, found that their babies scored higher on developmental scores at the age of 30 days. These babies experienced no significant adverse effects on birth weight or length (5).

At the time of the writing of this article, it is debatable whether marijuana acts as an aphrodisiac or a sex drive suppressant. Marijuana affects different people in different ways. Some report an increased libido, while others report an inability to sustain an erection. Only time and more reliable research will tell. Caveat emptor.

Bibliography
(1) Marijuana Myths, by Paul Hager (Chair, ICLU Drug Task Force)
http://www.erowid.org/archive/hyperreal/drugs/marijuana/misc/marijuana.myths

(2) NORML's Marijuana Health Mythology
http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=3475#17

(3) The Health Effects of Marijuana on Humans, by Marc Anderson
http://www.erowid.org/archive/hyperreal/drugs/marijuana/misc/mj.physiology

(4) NORML's Marijuana Health Mythology
http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=3475#13

(5) NORML's Marijuana Health Mythology
http://www.norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=3475#14
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