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Marijuana use may lower sperm count, block ovulation

From 1993’s “Dazed and Confused” to 2012’s “Ted,” getting stoned has long been a favorite Hollywood shortcut to dumbed-down, cheap-shot humor. But for couples struggling with conception, smoking weed isn’t a joke; it sends their chances of having a baby up in smoke.

In an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers say they want doctors and patients trying to conceive to be aware that smoking marijuana might make it more difficult. How?

>> THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, acts on receptors in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and reproductive organs, making it more difficult to conceive.

In women the hypothalamus produces gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which leads to a cascade of other hormones needed for ovulation and to prepare the uterus for a fertilized egg. Pituitary problems can contribute to erectile dysfunction in men and infertility in women.

>> Another problem: decreased sperm count. A Danish study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that smoking marijuana more than once a week reduced sperm count by 29% in guys 18 to 28 years old.

>> Marijuana could delay or prevent ovulation if smoked more than three times in the past three months.

>> One more caution: Authors of a study called “It’s Not Your Mother’s Marijuana,” published in Clinics in Perinatology, point out that if you’re pregnant and smoke today’s superpowered weed, prenatal exposure to marijuana can result in problems with your child’s executive functioning skills, attention, behavior and school achievement later on.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to youdocsdaily@sharecare.com.

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