PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – For men hoping to conceive a child, cutting out cannabis might work to your benefit, according to new research from Oregon Health & Science University. 

A 2022 study conducted on non-human primates found that chronic use of cannabis may greatly impact male fertility and reproductive outcomes. However, the research was not clear on whether those effects are permanent. 

Now, new research from OHSU found that discontinuing the use of THC can at least partly reverse the effects. 

According to OHSU, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is one of the most commonly used drugs among young men in the U.S. and around the world. It’s the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. 

However, data on the safety of THS is lacking and there are many things users might not know about its potentially harmful impacts on their reproductive health. 

Scientists at OHSU wanted to gain a deeper understanding on how the fertility effects of chronic cannabis use could be reversed, and this knowledge could help health care providers more effectively counsel patients on the risks of THC use. 

“These findings are important because we can now more confidently assure patients that by abstaining from THC for at least four months, the impacts of THC on male fertility can be partly reversed,” said Dr. Jamie Lo, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the OHSU School of Medicine. 

To test the outcome of reducing cannabis use, researchers administered doses of THC to primates for a seven-month period and studied changes to the male primates’ reproductive organs. They also tracked the quantity and quality of their sperm. 

Researchers found that THC exposure caused a significant reduction in the size of the testes and impacted male productive hormones. Both changes negatively impact the males’ fertility. 

THC exposure also impacted the sperm by altering the regulation of genes that are important for nervous system development, including those linked to causing autism spectrum disorder. 

Researchers eventually discontinued administering THC to the primates and found that after about four months without it, the adverse effects had been partially reversed. This shows that damage from chronic THC use can be partially restored, OHSU said. 

The study provides some insight into how long men should avoid using THC in order to repair the damage caused by chronic use. 

“We understand that for teens and young adults, family planning might not be top of mind; however, THC even in moderate doses could impact their fertility outcomes, so this is a serious concern for us as healthcare providers,” said Dr. Jason Hedges, an associate professor of urology in the OHUS School of Medicine and the study’s lead author. 

OHSU said more research is needed to fully understand how abstaining from THC can cause the damage to be partially reversed. 

In the future, OHSU plans to continue its efforts to understand the relationship between THC and reproductive health. Ongoing research will focus on the effects of chronic THC use over long periods of time and through different modes such as vaping. Scientists will also study the impacts of THC on fetal and offspring development.