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Testosterone: the primary male sex hormone.
Testosterone is produced in large quantities in the man’s testicles, under the influence of the hormone Luteinizing Hormone (LH) produced in the pituitary gland, and in the woman, in small quantities, in the ovaries. Testosterone plays a crucial role in creating the sexual drive, both in men and women. This hormone is also responsible for the male secondary sex signs: facial and chest size, thickening of the voice, increasing muscle mass, bone thickening, sperm cell formation and sexual drive. In the behavioural field, high levels of this hormone lead to aggressiveness and competitiveness, while low levels can cause a drop in mood, depression, fatigue and memory impairment. At the beginning of the creation of the male embryo, the hormone is secreted from the testicles of the embryo, and it affects the secondary mating signs in the man.
During life, the secretion of the hormone decreases from the age of 30 onwards. From the age of 50, there is a significant decrease in its production. Alcohol, drugs, obesity and excessive competitive sports impair testosterone production.
Cannabis, THC and the Function of the male reproductive system:
The effect of marijuana versus tobacco smoke on the male reproductive system was recently studied by Dr Jorge Hallak and her colleagues in Brazil. It was found that free radicals (ROS) increase among people who smoke cannabis and tobacco. Furthermore, a reduction in sperm count, progressive motility, as well as morphology and DNA integrity were affected by heavy chronic smoking.
Reporting the use of illegal drugs is not the most reliable method, especially for men who wish to undergo fertility treatments and depend on the authorities’ decision. On the contrary, it can be assumed that these men did not tell the truth about using cannabis or drugs to qualify for fertility treatment. At the same time, a 40% reduction in sperm concentrations may make it difficult for men with an already compromised sperm count and make them less fertile.
Another study by the same group of researchers also found a bad acrosome reaction that may lower fertility.
THC harm the male reproductive system
Any cannabinoid that binds directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors – such as THC – will have a negative effect (at least while it is in the bloodstream) on the function of the male reproductive system because the endocannabinoid system has a modulatory supervisory role in the hypothalamus axis – pituitary gland and gonads [Hypothalamus Pituitary Gonads HPG]
A study showed that THC lowers the synthesis of testosterone [T] by suppressing the enzymatic activity of Leydig cells in the testicles and acts as a type of endocrine disruption (1). In general, it can be said that THC in high concentrations does not help the health of the male reproductive system since THC binds directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors and causes a modulatory response in these tissues (hypothalamus, pituitary gland, testicle). However, these studies did not show any significant change in plasma testosterone levels when smoking marijuana, so we must look at this research in its broader context. A recent literature review shows that some studies have shown that marijuana use does not affect serum testosterone levels. In contrast, other studies have shown that it does.
The interrelationships between the endocannabinoid system and the HPG axis are complex and of limited physiological importance in humans.
Essential findings: CBD and the male reproductive system
CBD does not bind directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors – therefore, its effects are more favourable for the male reproductive system than isolated THC. Reducing damage to the reproductive system was a significant pharmacological feature at the beginning of the third millennium.
In general, it is known in the research that CBD slows down testosterone production. Still, at the same time, it also suppresses the metabolism and breakdown (oxidation) of testosterone in the liver (4) and does not lower the serum T levels in circulation. CBD exerts a protective effect on testosterone in the liver by inhibiting the activity of specific subtypes of the CYP-450 enzyme that breaks down testosterone.
As testosterone breaks down slowly, it remains more active in the bloodstream.
CBD may slow down the synthesis of T in the Leydig cells. Still, at the same time, it does not lower the levels of testosterone (T) in the serum, and thus CBD slows down the production process of T while it is in the bloodstream, but when the CBD disappears, then the production of T returns to a normal state.
According to what is known today in the study, no long-term damage was caused by CBD.
In addition, CBD also lowers prolactin levels and lowers cortisol levels in the body. This is a positive effect. We aim for lower prolactin and cortisol, inversely correlated with serum T levels. Oxidative stress causes a decrease in testosterone levels in the blood.
Cannabidiol (CBD), testosterone and oxidative stress
Most experts recommend prioritising sleep, cultivating a healthy and balanced diet, shedding excess weight, regular moderate physical exercise, and drastically reducing stress to improving men’s testosterone levels naturally.
The endocannabinoid system also has a role in balancing the reproductive system. In the sperm cells, the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the Leydig cells as well as the Sertoli cells of the testicle, you can find receptors for cannabinoids that can affect the production of testosterone. There is evidence to suggest that CBD can play a role in balancing testosterone levels [T]. The reason for this is that CBD has the potential to slow down testosterone production and, at the same time, limit its breakdown in the liver.
Additionally, CBD can help stimulate testosterone production in other ways:
CBD limits the production of the hormones prolactin and cortisol, two neurotransmitters that can slow down the rate of testosterone production. This is because these two hormones are produced in the human body in response to stress.
After intense physical training, the body needs time to recover. This is because cortisol is released after exercise. Training is a type of physical stress that activates the same “fight or flight” response as emotional stress and stress. Mog levels Cortisol levels may affect a person’s health over time. Tissues will begin to break down, proteins will not be synthesised as quickly, and the body will not properly convert protein into glucose. High cortisol in the blood also inhibits muscle development and leads to an increase in body fat.
Limiting the amount of stress in your life can help your body naturally produce more testosterone.
From an emotional point of view, cannabidiol (CBD) is known for its anti-anxiety effects (5).
This means some people may feel more relaxed after using a CBD product. Many studies have found that CBD is a practical addition to treatment programs for general anxiety disorders. By limiting the amount of emotional stress and strain, the body produces more T.
Nutrition is also essential – a recent study found that subjects who increased their consumption of essential fatty acids (ESSENTIAL FAs) increased and improved the function of the testicles, which apparently helped improve testosterone production levels and fertility (6).
Summary – Cannabis, CBD and the male reproductive system
Surprisingly, very few studies have examined the direct effect of marijuana on male fertility. This can be attributed mainly to legislation and ethical considerations that make the research almost impossible to perform as clinical studies in humans. The current body of knowledge concerning this topic consists primarily of several previous human studies and, more recently, in animals and in vitro. Despite these limitations, it is clear that marijuana and its compounds can affect male fertility on many levels.
Several studies have attributed the deregulation of the HPG axis and a specific reduction in critical hormones such as luteinising hormone [LH] and follicle-stimulating hormone [FSH]} which, in turn, can affect testosterone [T] and produce seed. Other studies show the opposite effect – increased LH levels from smoking cannabis. (6)
It seems that marijuana can affect sperm parameters and sperm function by acting through the cannabinoid receptors (CB1R & CB2R) and vanilloid receptors [TRPV1-3 – transient receptor potential cation channel]
Furthermore, sexual health has also been linked to marijuana because it affects erectile function in men positively. Social studies have found that cannabis is an effective aphrodisiac (stimulates sexual desire), which suggests that there is an additional connection between cannabis and the “bedroom” (in vivo) than can be studied in the laboratory (in vitro).
With the change in legislation and the decriminalisation of marijuana use and because some studies report conflicting findings, it is of utmost importance to conduct additional clinical studies to examine the effects of marijuana use in more detail. Although human studies are currently few and limited by their observational nature, the existing assumption supports the claim that marijuana use may harm male reproductive potential.
It would also be interesting to investigate the effects of marijuana use on tobacco smokers, as a recent study revealed that cigarette smokers also tend to use cannabis. In contrast, male cigarette smokers in fertile couples showed lower ejaculate volumes despite higher serum T levels (6). An increase in the pH and ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) concentration of seminal fluid in men was found due to environmental exposure to toxins and poor nutrition.
These findings underscore that physicians include questions about marijuana use when evaluating male fertility—professionals in the field. Healthcare professionals should also consider the relationship and potential impact of marijuana on male fertility when prescribing medical marijuana.
Currently, research on cannabis and reproduction remains preliminary, with conflicting results and no clear conclusions.
There is no doubt that the use of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes will increase and become even more common shortly, given the deep involvement of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the regulation of the male reproductive system and the direct effect of exogenous cannabinoids on the balance (homeostasis) of the endocannabinoid system and the reproductive system. The results of smoking marijuana on the reproductive system of both sexes should be continued.
Two studies in which no change was seen in the plasma testosterone level:
Plasma Testosterone Levels before, during and after Chronic Marihuana Smoking
Effects of chronic marijuana use on testosterone, luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, prolactin and cortisol in men and women
Many people turn to CBD products for their post-workout recovery needs.
CBD is praised for its natural anti-inflammatory effects. The reason for this is that hemp oil is full of essential fatty acids (omega 3, 6), which offer a variety of post-workout benefits, such as anti-inflammation, joint pain relief and keeping the arteries clean. This means faster recovery from training, limiting the amount of stress exerted on the body and thus improving testosterone production.
As an added benefit, the essential fatty acids found in cannabis extracts, such as CBD oil, have also been shown to help increase testosterone production. A year-long study in Spain in 2010 examined testosterone levels due to consuming certain fats. The study found a positive relationship between ingesting unsaturated fats such as omega three and omega six and luteinising hormone (LH) concentrations. Ultimately, the study found that subjects increasing their fatty acid intake saw an increase and improvement in testicular function, which likely helped improve their testosterone production levels.
Is it recommended to use CBD to support testosterone levels?
So what should we take from all this? First, it’s essential to recognise that cannabis compounds of all kinds will affect your testosterone levels, mainly because they can affect the overall production of the hormone. Secondly, it is essential to remember that there still needs to be in-depth and comprehensive research into the relationship between CBD and testosterone. Most evidence now suggests that CBD in daily activities is unlikely to increase testosterone in the body. The benefits that CBD has to offer may have a net positive benefit on overall testosterone levels.
The Manifold Actions of Endocannabinoids on Female and Male Reproductive Events
Jekyll and Hyde: Two Faces of Cannabinoid Signaling in Male and Female Fertility
Cannabis, Cannabinoids and Reproduction
Current Smoking Is Associated With Lower Seminal Vesicles and Ejaculate Volume, Despite Higher Testosterone Levels, in Male Subjects of Infertile Couples
Does CBD have other sexual benefits?
There isn’t much recent research on CBD and its sexual benefits, but there are new products in this area on the market designed to help with the following conditions:
Erectile dysfunction (ED)
According to an article in BioMed Research InternationalTrusted Source, Ayurvedic practitioners have used cannabis sativa for many years to improve ejaculation function and sexual performance.
A Review on Plants Used for Improvement of Sexual Performance and Virility
The exact way in which CBD might help ED is not fully understood.
One theory is that CBD can help relax blood vessels and promote blood flow. Better blood flow to the penis can relieve ED and promote longer sex. The problem is that doctors have not specifically tested the effects of CBD on the penis. A small study published in the journal JCI Insight Trusted Source found that a single dose of CBD helped reduce blood pressure. However, the researchers in this study looked at arteries that led to the heart and not those that went to the groin. See study at A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study
For further reading on the subject: CBD and treatment of vascular and heart diseases
For those who struggle with dryness and painful sex, adding a lubricant can improve sexual performance and ease pain. Many CBD manufacturers produce fats that incorporate CBD to enhance sexual pleasure. They studied the effects of CBD on the skin as a dermatological treatment. According to a 2010 article in the journal Fitoterapia, CBD applied to the skin has an anti-inflammatory effect, which may theoretically make sex more comfortable. However, there are no specific studies on CBD and oils. See link: Comparative topical anti-inflammatory activity of cannabinoids and cannabivarins
Another theory is that cannabis affects sexual desire directly in the brain. A 2017 study of cannabis users found that cannabis activated the part of people’s brains that controls sexual arousal. The researchers concluded that using cannabis may benefit people with low libido.
Individual Prolactin Reactivity Modulates Response of Nucleus Accumbens to Erotic Stimuli During Acute Cannabis Intoxication: An fMRI Pilot Study
The effect of testosterone on women:
Regarding sex hormones, women are driven by estrogen and men by testosterone.
Everyone has both – only women have more estrogen, while men have more testosterone. Testosterone is an androgen, which is a “male” sex hormone that plays a role in reproduction, growth and maintenance of a healthy body.
In women’s bodies, testosterone is produced in the ovaries, adrenal gland, fat cells and skin cells. Women generally have about 1/10 to 1/20 the amount of testosterone in men’s bodies. Testosterone affects bone, breast, fertility, libido, menstrual cycle, and vaginal health in women. Women’s bodies easily convert testosterone and other androgens they produce into female sex hormones.
Both females and males experience an initial surge of testosterone and estrogen (hormonal) during puberty, which continues into young adulthood. This production of sex hormones contributes to the development of secondary sex characteristics. These include deep voices and facial hair in males, higher voices, and breast development in females.
Most females do not develop male characteristics because testosterone and other androgens work differently in their bodies, quickly turning into estrogen. The main difference is that testosterone is not converted to estrogen in men. However, when female bodies produce excess testosterone or other androgens, they cannot keep up with the T conversion rate to estrogen. As a result, they may experience virilisation and develop more male secondary sex characteristics, such as facial hair and male pattern baldness.
As men and women age, their bodies produce less T, but it continues to play a role in maintaining health and libido for both sexes.
Low testosterone levels in women may be best addressed by treating the underlying medical or psychological problems rather than taking testosterone supplements designed for men. Women with high testosterone may reduce testosterone levels naturally by incorporating foods and herbs into their diet.
CBD, which lowers serum testosterone levels in both sexes, can treat the aforementioned female disorders caused by too high serum T levels. Only men in their reproductive period should reduce CBD doses, while women are less sensitive. (6)
Additional professional information:
The endocannabinoid system and the male reproductive system
The endocannabinoid system is expressed in many integral tissues related to the male reproductive system. Endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors can be found in the testicular tissue, including Sertoli cells and Leydig cells, as well as in the sperm cells. The endocannabinoid system was also discovered in areas of the hypothalamus responsible for the release of GnRH, or gonadotropin-releasing hormone, which is responsible for triggering the release of pituitary hormones of the reproductive system such as LH and FSH. From this, the endocannabinoid system is closely related to the human reproductive system.
Anandamide Activity and Degradation Are Regulated by Early Postnatal Aging and Follicle-Stimulating Hormone in Mouse Sertoli Cells
The Central Cannabinoid Receptor Inactivation Suppresses Endocrine Reproductive Functions
Endocrine Effects of Marijuana in the Male: Preclinical Studies
Depression of Plasma Testosterone Levels after Chronic Intensive Marihuana Use
Acute effects of smoking marijuana on hormones, subjective effects and performance in male human subjects
Effects of marijuana on testosterone in male subjects
Effects of Regular Marijuana Use on Sexual Performance
Effects of Cannabis extract on the response of accessory sex organs of adult male mice to testosterone
Effects of cannabinoids on testosterone and protein synthesis in rat testis leydig cells in vitro
Cannabidiol Exerts Sebostatic and Antiinflammatory Effects on Human Sebocytes
Endocannabinoids and the Endocrine System in Health and Disease
Effects of Cannabinoids on Testosterone and Protein Synthesis in Rat Testis Leydig Cells in Vitro
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