Gonadotropin axis and semen quality in young Swiss men after cannabis consumption: Effect of chronicity and modulation by cannabidiol

Andrology. 2023 Apr 12. doi: 10.1111/andr.13440. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: While cannabis is the most widely used recreational drug in the world, the effects of phytocannabinoids on semen parameters and reproductive hormones remain controversial. Cannabinoid receptors are activated by these compounds at each level of the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadotropic (HPG) axis.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the impact of the consumption of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) on semen parameters, as well as on male reproductive hormone and endocannabinoid levels, in a cohort of young Swiss men.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The individuals in a Swiss cohort were divided according to their cannabis consumption. In the cannabis user group, we determined the delay between the last intake of cannabis and sample collection, the chronicity of use, and the presence of CBD in the consumed product. Urinary THC metabolites were quantified via GC-MS. Blood phytocannabinoids, endocannabinoids, and male steroids were determined via LC-MS/MS and other HPG axis hormones via immunoassays. Semen parameters such as sperm concentration and motility were recorded using computer-assisted sperm analysis.

RESULTS: Anandamide, N-palmitoyl ethanolamide, androgens, estradiol, and SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) levels were all higher in cannabis users, particularly in chronic, recent, and CBD-positive consumers. Gonadotropin levels were not significantly different in these user subpopulations, whereas prolactin and albumin concentrations were lower. In addition, cannabis users had a more basic semen pH and a higher percentage of sperm with progressive motility. However, the two latter observations seem to be related to a shorter period of sexual abstinence in this group rather than to the use of cannabis.

CONCLUSIONS: Because both CBD and THC are frequently used by men of reproductive age, it is highly relevant to elucidate the potential effects they may have on human reproductive health. This study demonstrates that the mode of cannabis consumption must be considered when evaluating the effect of cannabis on semen quality. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

PMID:37042163 | DOI:10.1111/andr.13440