THC Detection in Semen

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How THC works within your blood and urine is something that, for the most part, the cannabis community is familiar with. However, these lingering traces of THC metabolites in bodily fluid poses further questions regarding the way that the cannabinoid can cross blood-testis barriers. Is there the potential for THC to be detected in semen, too? If so, how much is present, how often do you have to smoke, and how does this affect the male population?

In an attempt to answer these questions and more, a study was conducted by Harvard Medical School earlier this year to help the cannabis community better understand the potential relationship between THC and the male reproductive system. Though evidence is sparse and just getting started, it’s the start that the cannabis sciences need.

First Glance:

  • A recent study explored the relationship between THC detection in semen. 
  • The study consisted of 12 men, aged 18-45, all heavy cannabis smokers. 
  • Research found that THC metabolites were present in all usable samples. 
  • Only two samples were found to have actual amounts of delta-9 THC. 
  • The study concluded that THC does cross blood-testis barriers, however, what this means is still unknown. 
  • Next, research must be conducted on the long-term effects of THC and fertility, pregnancy, and child development.

THC and the Reproductive System

Marijuana and fertility, as well as the reproductive system as a whole, have been closely looked at for years, both male and female. The human body contains numerous cannabinoid receptors throughout, with these receptors being made to work with your body’s endocannabinoids, as well as the cannabinoids that the cannabis plant produces. The reproductive system, in particular, is riddled with cannabinoid receptors, making the system super susceptible to the effects that marijuana brings. 

While this has the potential to be overwhelmingly positive for cannabinoids like CBD that bring about pain relief and reduce inflammation, concerns have been posed about THC’s relationship to the male reproductive system, specifically. Without knowing how THC directly affects sperm, we aren’t sure what kind of effects it could have on pregnancy or child development, if any. The majority of those who enjoy weed regularly are males of reproductive age, so understanding these long-term effects is crucial, especially concerning consequences they may pose for fertility. 

The Study and Results

Earlier this year, researchers at Harvard Medical decided to determine whether or not THC can be detected in semen, similarly to how it’s found in blood or urine. The study was composed of 12 men ranging from ages 18 to 45, all considered generally healthy. Along with being healthy, all of these men heavily smoke cannabis, with half having done so for the past five years. This created the perfect study group to help determine THC detection. 

Out of the 12 samples produced, only ten had sufficient volume to be analyzed. Out of those ten, every single one of them had at least one detectable metabolite of THC, with two participants showing traces of actual delta-9 THC–the psychoactive cannabinoid found within the plant. This would mean, then, that those two samples would produce a positive drug test result due to the amount of THC still lingering. 

Though crucial, this study only scratched the surface of the relationship between THC and the reproductive system. However, researchers needed to first establish whether or not the cannabinoid could even be detected in semen or not, and how much. So, right now, it appears that this study was a success: THC can, in fact, cross blood-testis barriers. In long-time consumers, at least. 

This specific study was not geared towards the occasional, light pot smoker, so generalizations cannot be made until THC’s role is further understood in casual doses. With the men the study utilized, they claimed to have smoked weed between 25-30 days out of the previous month; this lets researchers know that THC has the potential to build up and stick around a while. However, the way it acts in non-frequent use is still unknown. 

So, What Does This Mean Going Forward?

Now that science has proven the potential for THC to travel through blood barriers, what exactly does this mean? Well, that’s what is next to discover. With so much uncertainty surrounding the effects of cannabis and the reproductive system, in both men and women, even the smallest bits of information are integral for research. 

Soon, you can expect to see similar studies being conducted on less-frequent consumers, as well as extended studies observing the long-term effects on fertility, pregnancy, and maybe even child-bearing. Significant amounts of people have admitted to enjoying marijuana during intimacy, particularly conception, so having answers to these questions may be incredibly beneficial. 

Final Thoughts

Right now, any information is good information as cannabis and all its glory continue to be studied. We can all hope that, within the upcoming years, the ambiguous becomes clear, and THC, semen, and its long-term effects are finally fully understood.