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How does smoking marijuana affect my health?

Following are some of the ways smoking marijuana can affect your health:

  • delayed onset of puberty and reduced sperm count in men
  • abnormal menstrual cycles and irregular ovulation in women
  • impaired perception, diminished short-term memory, loss of concentration and coordination, impaired judgment and decreased ability to judge distance and speed, all of which lead to increased risk of accidents
  • damage to respiratory, reproductive and immune systems

The most familiar long-term effect of marijuana use is impaired learning ability. Research shows that marijuana use limits your ability to absorb and retain information. In testing, users often show a reduced ability to memorize information and demonstrate lower math and verbal skills.

Aside from the mind-altering effects of marijuana, it also carries consequences similar to cigarette smoking. According to some studies, if you smoke one joint, it is thought that you are exposed to the same amount of cancer-causing chemicals as if you smoke five tobacco cigarettes, and smokers can experience frequent respiratory infections, including chest colds, bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and sinusitis. A novice marijuana user is more likely to experience anxiety, panic attacks and paranoia.

This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.