Introduction: With the legalization of marijuana and the potential upsurge in use, people are increasingly likely to explore its relationship with their health. The effects of marijuana on fertility and sexual function are poorly understood, though recent evidence suggest a potential spermatoxic effect of marijuana. This uncertainty, along with patient hesitancy to discuss substance use with providers, lead men to seek advice from anonymous internet forums. This study aims to characterize the linguistic themes surrounding the discussion of marijuana use and men’s health on these forums in order to provide insight into lay perceptions of marijuana use on topics in men’s health.
Methods: Using a Google cloud-based platform for data extraction (BigQuery), we extracted all posts from the Reddit forums r/ErectileDysfunction, r/Testosterone, r/MensHealth, r/Sex, and r/NoFap during 8/2018-8/2019. Posts that included synonyms of marijuana and were related to men’s sexual health were included. We manually analyzed 243 posts and qualitatively derived themes from each post around men’s health and sexual dysfunction. A quantitative analysis utilizing a natural language processing (NLP) methodology called the Meaning Extraction Method with principal component analysis (MEM/PCA) was also performed.
Results: Mean user age was 23.8 years. MEM/PCA revealed a thematic cluster including the words marijuana, weed, level, issue, body, mental, low, results, physical, high, stress, normal. The qualitative analysis is shown in Figure 1.
Conclusions: The relevant posts express uncertainty about the effects of marijuana and seek more information regarding how it relates to topics such as erectile dysfunction, testosterone levels, and sexual function. Moreover, posts express conflicting experiences such as marijuana both improving or reducing libido. These data emphasize that while there is limited research on the effects of marijuana use on men’s health, urology providers should be open and prepared to address questions regarding marijuana use, especially in younger men concerned about their sexual health.