Science shows that marijuana negatively affects both male and female reproductive health. However, changes in sexual behaviour induced by marijuana can offset the biological effects, leading to increased birth rates, suggests a new research by Michele Baggio of the University of Connecticut and others.

The authors study the changes in sexual behaviour and birth rates across the United States following legalization of marijuana for medical purposes in various states. Such legalization is likely to have increased the overall availability of marijuana in the respective states.

The authors show that legalization of medical marijuana was followed by increased frequency of sexual intercourse and less contraceptive use.

The authors arrived at this conclusion by analysing the annual survey of youth conducted from 1997 to 2015 which asks respondents details of their sexual activity and substance use.

Their analysis of data on retail sales showed that legalization of marijuana was followed by decreased purchase of condoms.

According to the authors, the use of drugs led people to indulge in more risky sexual behaviour and to ignore the costs associated with such behaviour.

The study contends that the ability of marijuana to heighten sensory perception, increase relaxation, and reduce stress and anxiety outweighed its negative impact on reproductive health, when viewed strictly through the narrow prism of impact on birth rates.

READ | Sex, drugs, and baby booms: Can behaviour overcome biology?

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