Cannabis and male sexual health: contemporary qualitative review and insight into perspectives of young men on the internet


Introduction:

Cannabis use is increasing across the United States, yet its short- and long-term effects on sexual function remain controversial. Currently, there is a paucity of studies exploring the relationship between cannabis and men’s health.


Objectives:

To summarize the available literature on cannabis and men’s health and provide insight into lay perceptions of this topic.


Methods:

We performed a qualitative PubMed review of the existing literature on cannabis and men’s health according to the PRISMA guidelines. Separately, we analyzed relevant themes in online men’s health forums. We utilized a Google cloud-based platform (BigQuery) to extract relevant posts from 5 men’s health Reddit forums from August 2018 to August 2019. We conducted a qualitative thematic analysis of the posts and quantitatively analyzed them using natural language processing and a meaning extraction method with principal component analysis.


Results:

Our literature review revealed a mix of animal and human studies demonstrating the negative effects of cannabis on semen parameters and varying effects on erectile function and hormone levels. In our analysis of 372 686 Reddit posts, 1190 (0.3%) included relevant discussion on cannabis and men’s health. An overall 272 posts were manually analyzed, showing that online discussions revolve around seeking answers and sharing the effects of cannabis on various aspects of sexual health and quality of life, often with conflicting experiences. Quantitative analysis revealed 1 thematic cluster related to cannabis, insecurity, and mental/physical health.


Conclusions:

There is a limited number of quality human studies investigating the effects of cannabis on men’s health. Men online are uncertain about how cannabis affects their sexual health and seek more information. As the prevalence of cannabis use increases, so does the need for research in this area.


Keywords:

cannabis; erectile dysfunction; fertility; internet; men’s health; qualitative research; sexual health; social media.

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