So you and your partner decided to pull the goalie — congrats! You’re one step closer to bringing a baby into this world. But with each month of trying to conceive with no success, the pressure builds, and so does your checklist. Track ovulation, add prenatals, and throw in some CoQ10. Replace plastic containers in the kitchen. Repeat. 

Before putting more pressure on yourself, it’s time to look at the other half of the equation: your male partner’s fertility status. Many factors affect how well your male partner performs, and marijuana use is a big one. In this article, we share how smoking weed affects his swimmers and answer the question, “How long after quitting weed does male fertility improve?”

man lighting a joint

What is infertility?

Infertility is the inability to conceive after one year of unprotected sex, or six months for women over 35. Couples who are unable to stay pregnant may also be considered infertile. 

If you’re one of the 48 million couples struggling with infertility, it’s important to know that neither party is solely responsible — and conceiving is a shared responsibility. In general, the most common cause of female infertility is an issue with ovulation. For men, it usually comes down to the cells and functionality of the sperm. Age, health, and lifestyle are also contributing factors. 

To uncover the cause of infertility, you may consider working with a reproductive endocrinologist, or an OB/GYN with specialized training in reproductive medicine and infertility. A specialist tests both partners to determine which factors have the most impact on your ability to conceive together.

How can you tell if a man is fertile?

If you’re wondering how to tell if your male partner is prepared to bring you lots of babies, here’s a hint — it has nothing to do with how equipped they are. The most accurate way to test male fertility is through a semen analysis. This test measures the quality and quantity of sperm. 

During a semen analysis, a semen sample is examined under a microscope. Several factors are evaluated, including the pH and appearance of sperm. The main factors being evaluated are listed below.  

  • Sperm count: How many sperm are in a sample 

  • Morphology: The size and shape of the sperm

  • Motility: How well the sperm can swim toward an egg

A low sperm count or concentration can alter the sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg. An inability to swim or an abnormal shape can also inhibit fertilization. It’s important to get these factors checked when trying to conceive, especially if you’re having difficulty getting pregnant together. In about 30% of infertility cases, male factor infertility is a contributing factor. About 20% of the time, it’s the primary cause.

couple doing research about trying to conceive

How does marijuana affect male fertility?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), excessive alcohol or drug use (such as marijuana or opioids) can cause male infertility. The effects of weed on fertility are still being studied, especially as recreational use has become increasingly widespread. Research shows smoking weed can reduce a man’s chances of conceiving by: 

  • Altering reproductive hormones

  • Disrupting sperm function

  • Lowering sperm count and motility 

  • Reducing sexual desire and performance 

How long does it take for male fertility to improve after quitting weed?

When trying to conceive, it’s a good idea for men to stop smoking weed to improve the chances of producing healthy sperm. The testicles continually produce new sperm, which take around 42 to 76 days to mature. This means it can take several months before seeing an improvement in sperm quality. It may take longer for chronic smokers to clear marijuana from their systems. 

To follow up on sperm health, your doctor may check another semen sample. Keep in mind that sperm counts fluctuate — so don’t be alarmed if there’s variance in the results of two different tests. For the most accurate results, a male partner may be required to be abstinent for two to seven days before collecting a sample. 

The bottom line: The sooner a male partner stops smoking weed, the better. To be safe, men should consider quitting weed for at least two months before trying to conceive. 

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What other lifestyle modifications should men make when TTC?

If you and your partner are trying to conceive, talk to your healthcare provider or fertility specialist about the lifestyle modifications recommended to optimize fertility. Whether you’re struggling with infertility or just beginning the process, it’s good to know where you stand and which recommendations will be the most helpful for your circumstances. 

Together, you can work toward your ultimate goal of starting a family together while ruling out the common causes of infertility. In addition to quitting weed to improve male fertility, other recommended lifestyle modifications include:

  • Getting regular exercise

  • Maintaining a healthy weight 

  • Reducing alcohol intake

  • Quitting smoking 

  • Taking a daily multivitamin

  • Eating a healthy diet 

  • Preventing sexually transmitted infections 

  • Limiting exposure to toxins like pesticides

  • Avoiding hot tubs, laptops, or other environmental factors that increase temperatures around the scrotum

Medical Disclaimer: The content in this article is provided for informational purposes only. It’s not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure any health conditions. It’s not a substitute for professional medical advice or consultation. Talk to your doctor before making changes to your healthcare regimen. 

Alexa Davidson is a registered nurse and freelance health writer. She’s written for various women’s health companies, covering topics like natural hormone balance, fertility, and disease prevention. On her own fertility journey, Alexa has experienced profound loss and is passionate about supporting others with similar experiences. When she’s not researching or writing, Alexa can be found in the kitchen, where her specialty is making healthy versions of comfort foods. Nashville Hot Tofu, anyone?