Cannabis: for or against men? There’s a lot of controversy and confusion surrounding the use of marijuana to address men’s health problems such as prostate cancer, low testosterone and infertility.
Some consumers report cannabis to be a natural aphrodisiac—and it’s been used in that capacity for hundreds of years. Meanwhile, a few studies indicate that marijuana may actually contribute to lowering sperm count and aggravating symptoms of existing medical conditions.
Cannabis use certainly does have an effect on both neurological and biological systems within the body’s endocrine system. But marijuana has different effects on male and female consumers when it comes to:
- Brain structure
- Reward processing
- Motor function
Experts agree that research is required to understand to what extent the substance is able to influence brain structure, hormones and other biological functions—all important to men’s sexual health.
Can Cannabis Help With Erectile Dysfunction?
Men who suffer from erectile dysfunction could find that marijuana increases the chance of achieving an erection. However, this may be due more to the fact that anxiety is often an underlying factor in erectile dysfunction. Marijuana can help decrease anxiety and stress to help maintain erections and increase sexual performance.
However, marijuana overuse could impair erectile functioning for up to 12 hours at a time. This occurs because tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the primary components in marijuana, blocks the release of the hormone GnRH, which is responsible for reproductive functioning. Cannabis is also known to block receptors that are found in the erectile or cavernous tissue of the penis.
It seems that the efficacy of cannabis in contributing to positive sexual interaction depends largely on the dosage and timing of marijuana consumption. Cannabis is generally associated with higher reactivity to touch and other stimuli and is therefore likely to increase sexual pleasure. But it should be taken in moderation to achieve the best results related to sexual performance.
Would Cannabis Be Beneficial for Prostate Issues & Prostate Cancer?
For prostate problems and cancer, medical marijuana is effective in relieving pain for a large number of patients. Cannabinoids are thought to mitigate symptoms such as chronic pain as well as anxiety and nausea in patients undergoing chemotherapy. Marijuana strains with high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) are especially useful in relieving inflammation and convulsions. And preliminary studies have found that cannabis can restrict tumour growth in mice.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer occurring in men, aside from non-melanoma skin cancer. Prostate tissues are shown through experimental studies to possess cannabinoid receptors, meaning that marijuana can interact directly with prostate tissues. Cannabinoids may be useful in managing prostate cancer and side effects by potentially reducing hormones that are associated with causing this type of cancer. Cannabinoids may be especially beneficial as a treatment for patients who aren’t responding to common therapies.
Although more research and clinical studies looking at the role of cannabis as a tumour-regressive agent are required, there’s preliminary evidence indicating that THC and CBD may be helpful in treating prostate cancer and its related side effects.
Does Cannabis Really Lower Sperm Count?
So, is there anything to the claim that marijuana use reduces sperm count? Studies show that regular marijuana use is associated with:
- Lower sperm concentration
- Alteration of sperm structures
- Reduced fertility
Marijuana has an influence on hormones, and THC, the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis, may alter neural transmitters that interact with these hormones. THC depresses thyroid gland function and growth hormones in animal studies showing that marijuana alters the role of reproductive organs. A study of chronic marijuana users has also indicated that daily use of cannabis may be responsible for lowered sperm volume and count, as well as abnormal sperm motility.
However, these alterations and changes in sperm production aren’t permanent and will revert back to normal over time. In some cases, healthy men with normal sperm counts may be unaffected by these changes. Either way, consider taking a break from cannabis if you’re looking to conceive with your partner.
Marijuana Can Be Beneficial for Men’s Health, but Be Aware of Strains & Dosage
To recap, marijuana may be useful in improving sexual performance (especially in those with anxiety and other stress-related disorders). And it could potentially help reduce the growth of cancerous tumours in the prostate even as it helps ease pain, anxiety and nausea in those going through chemotherapy for prostate cancer. Cannabis will indeed lead to lower sperm counts and altered sperm structures, which may affect fertility. However, these changes aren’t permanent and may revert back to normal over time.
When considering the use of medical marijuana to treat men’s health problems, try different cannabis strains with varying levels of THC and CBD to find the adequate dosage and timing of consumption for the effects you’re trying to achieve.
Photo credit: Brooke Winters