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.
(1) Marijuana Myths, by Paul Hager (Chair, ICLU Drug Task Force)
(2) NORML's Marijuana Health Mythology
(3) The Health Effects of Marijuana on Humans, by Marc Anderson
(4) NORML's Marijuana Health Mythology
(5) NORML's Marijuana Health Mythology
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