Categories: Cannabis

Frequent Cannabis Use – Researchers Detect THC levels in Semen

Different legal requirements may cause people to take urine tests for cannabis. Moreover, different medical organizations use standard procedures. This procedure helps the detection of cannabis metabolites, long after the person’s last consumption. However, a popular question is uncertainty regarding THC present in semen, and whether it’s detectable.

A team of researchers at Harvard Medical School led a study and concluded positively. The study involved 12 participants with regular inhalation of cannabis. Out of the 12 participants, 2 of them had detectable delta-9 THC in their semen samples. Furthermore, the THC metabolite that remains after the processing of the compound, was detectable in all samples. However, the researchers had stressed that 2 of the samples were unable to be analyzed due to inadequate volume.

Why is this concerning?

Pregnancy could be the reason for a valid concern. The researchers who conducted the study have concluded that most men of reproductive users are also avid consumers of cannabis. In terms of numbers, that makes up 19.4% of the USA male population. Men and women have also reported the use of cannabis while considering pregnancy. A study has reported figures of 16.5% and 11.5% for men and women respectively.

However, the authors of the Harvard study have not considered answering questions that arise regarding the impact of THC on fertility, and childhood development. They have stressed the primary focus of the study which was the determination of the ability of THC to pass the blood-testis barrier. Moreover, they accomplished their goal with the successful results of the study.

The study

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The study was reportedly the first to experiment on the exogenous cannabinoid THC and its detectability in any human reproductive matrix. However, due to the ambiguity regarding its detection in the first place, the researchers centered on long-term cannabis users. All participants had reported cannabis use in a time frame of fewer than the last 30 days, while many reported consistency for over 5 years. Consequently, the researchers were unable to extend the generalization of their results further to every user with different levels and frequency of consumption.

The 2 participants with detectable THC levels in their samples, had recorded 0.97 ng/mL and 0.87 ng/mL. However, their distinction was not certain. It raised ambiguity for researchers when not all, but some samples were THC-positive, with no strong factors to influence. Hence, the researchers had laid out specific rules to focus on such as the identification of characteristics that may affect the THC levels.

How does it affect fertility and other reproductive concerns?

There is ambiguity when the questions arise regarding the effect of THC on semen, and consequently pregnancy, and childhood development. The Harvard researchers have stressed the limitation and conflict of the scarce data that we have. This was regarding the link between cannabis and reproductive outcomes.

However, there have been studies on the sperm count of participants who are regular smokers of cannabis. While a study conducted on 1200 young men concluded that smoking cannabis led to lower sperm counts, another study on 662 older men concluded otherwise. The effect of THC on the sperm is very vague too. The new paper sheds light on the uncertainty of the effects of cannabis on human gametes and fertilization.

The common method of this research has been observing THC levels by blood tests or studying the activity of the sperm in a laboratory with a THC solution. However, the quantifiability of the THC levels in human reproductive issues and fluids has laid the foundation for future research. By the direct method of measurement, this further eliminates the compulsion to rely on potentially unreliable methods such as self-reporting cannabis use, or serum levels.

The Harvard researchers noted decreased motility and mitochondrial oxygen consumption in the THC-washed sperm with the inclusion of other effects. However, they recognized the significantly higher THC concentrations used in their study.

Saher Asad Mir

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