Hey, it’s 4/20! Let’s talk about CBD and fertility!
Have you been known to enjoy a CBD latte on occasion? How about a delicious brownie with a few milligrams of CBD in it? CBD has a number of medical and therapeutic properties, but we often hear the question, “Can it impact my fertility?”
We’re going to give you the lowdown.
Before you set out down the Google wormhole, CBD stands for cannabidiol, a naturally occurring chemical in the marijuana plant. There’s no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in CBD — that’s the component in marijuana that gets you high. You can’t get addicted to CBD, although you should know it’s not always clear how much CBD is in a product, or whether or not those products also contain traces of THC. CBD is available in many places in the US, usually in the form of an oil capsule, an extract, or a vapor, but its legality is constantly in question.
In addition to addressing anxiety and other related conditions, including PTSD and Seasonal Affective Disorder, CBD has also been shown to be effective in treating Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, two childhood epilepsy syndromes, which typically don’t respond well to anti-epilepsy drugs. Epidiolex, an FDA-approved medication for these conditions, contains CBD. CBD might also be good for relieving chronic pain, but more studies need to be done to verify this and to know which doses might work for certain syndromes.
CBD does have some side effects. It can make you nauseous, irritable, and tired, and also result in dry mouth, diarrhea, and it can also interact with some medications, so you should talk to your doctor if you’re planning on using CBD.
What about fertility?
Smoking is a no-no if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, and we don’t know a ton about vaping’s impact on fertility, but it doesn’t look good, especially when it comes to how it affects sperm. The American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (ACOG) suggests that pregnant people avoid smoking marijuana (it can result in low birth weight or stillbirth,and impede fetal brain development, but we’re also lacking conclusive information on whether or not you should smoke it if you’re considering getting pregnant in the future.
But CBD? According to Angela Gilliam, Community Manager at Verified CBD, “CBD oil has shown some promising benefits in terms of fertility in both genders.” CBD activates your body’s endocannabinoid system, a biological system composed of endocannabinoids, neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors. The system regulates processes like fertility and pregnancy, as well as post- and prenatal development. A 2012 study also linked the endocannabinoid system with increased female sexual arousal.
Cannabinoid receptors have been detected in sperm, and one in particular, GPR18, has been found to activate sperm cells, which seems to improve the sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg. There are also endocannabinoids in the female reproductive tract, which suggests that they could play a favorable role in ovarian function and might help regulate follicle maturation, an important aspect of fertility.
The bottom line
So how should you think about CBD and fertility? You probably know what we’re going to say — it’s complicated. Data suggests that the endocannabinoid system is intimately connected with the female reproductive system, and a 2019 study confirms that the system plays a role in the progression of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but overall, we still don’t know a ton about the impact of CBD on fertility, so you might want to steer clear of it if you’re thinking about trying to get pregnant in the near future.
Right now, though, the Modern Fertility test is here to give you information on your hormones and what they might look like as you get older, so you can get a sense of what could happen to your fertility later in life and think about how to strategize. We’ll also give you tips on how to talk with your doctor and your partner, and give you access to a community of other people looking to know and understand their bodies and their futures.
CBD has a number of medical and therapeutic properties, but we often hear the question, "Can it impact my fertility?" We're going to give you the lowdown.
Cbd oil and fertility
Use of CBD Oil During Pregnancy
We’ve addressed reasons why couples trying to conceive – or who are pregnant – should steer clear of marijuana. From compromising male fertility factors to crossing the placenta’s blood barrier, it’s simply too much of a risk. With the use of these products widely available in California, we are seeing a rise of CBD use.
Now, as medical and recreational marijuana become legal in more states, marijuana use by pregnant women is on the rise. The American Medical Association reports a sharp rise in the number of pregnant women in America who use marijuana while pregnant between 2002 and 2017 (from 3.4% to 7%), many of whom are using it during the first trimester, when a baby’s brain and nervous system are beginning to develop.
As physicians and fertility experts, we’re very concerned. Research around the safety of CBD oil use and marijuana consumption for pregnant women is not good. Our advice is to steer clear and find alternative ways to replicate whatever reprieves marijuana provides for you.
Surgeon General Warns Against Marijuana & CBD Use for Pregnant Women Due to Multiple Health Risks
Perhaps the most alarming statistics are the ones recently published in JAMA by Canadian researchers, and backed by the Surgeon General, who compared pregnancy and birth statistics between women who used marijuana during their pregnancy and women who did not. The preterm (premature) birth rates were twice as high (12.1% vs. 6.0%) in women who consumed marijuana.
This is a big deal for any mother, particularly mothers who are struggling with infertility rates and/or participating in fertility treatments. Premature births put your baby at a higher risk for:
- Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)
- Low birth weight
- Difficulty latching on/breastfeeding
- Apnea (disruption of breathing rhythm for 20 seconds or more)
- Anemia (low iron levels)
- Learning disabilities and social/emotional issues
- Intestinal issues and diseases
- Vision problems and hearing loss
And that list goes on. Our goal is always to achieve a healthy, full-term pregnancy for both mother and baby. That means advising that you do everything you can – including avoiding CDB oil and marijuana use – to prevent a preterm birth.
One of the things worth noting is that the quality and potency of the marijuana cultivated today is much higher than crops grown twenty or more decades ago. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, “…described modern marijuana as far more potent than marijuana produced and sold 20 years ago, with levels of T.H.C. increasing to a range of 12 percent to 25 percent from 4 percent back then.”
Marijuana Compromises Child Development and Behavioral Success
We mentioned that marijuana crosses the placenta’s blood barrier. This is the same reason you aren’t supposed to drink while pregnant – your blood alcohol level is your baby’s blood alcohol level. With marijuana and CBD oil, your mind-altered state impacts your baby’s mental state. The same is true when you are breastfeeding, since THC passed from your bloodstream, into your breastmilk, and right into your baby’s bloodstream.
The part of the brain exposed to the effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol – the ingredient in marijuana that makes you high) are in charge of executive and emotional functioning. So, it makes sense that studies continue to correlate prenatal marijuana use with a child’s behavioral and developmental problems.
Why Do You Want to Use CBD Oil or Marijuana?
The most important question is, “why do you want to use CBD oil or marijuana during pregnancy?” It’s imperative that you work with an OB/GYN or fertility specialist who you feel comfortable with, and who you trust, so you can discuss this topic with him/her. That way, we can help you find alternative solutions:
- You’re depressed. Many women, such as the woman featured in this USA Today feature cite depression as the reason why they use marijuana. If this is the case, we’ll work with you to find a therapist or counselor who can help, and offer other avenues of support as well.
- You have terrible morning sickness. Most morning sickness is survived via a helpful tips and biding your time until you head into the second-trimester. Women with extreme morning sickness have reported that marijuana helps to quell nausea and allow them to eat, and they fear the birth defect repercussions associated with prescription morning sickness medications. This is understandable and we’ll help you to find a safe solution for you and your baby.
- You’re battling anxiety. Marijuana is known to ease anxiety, but you don’t want to do that at the expense of your baby’s wellbeing. Working with a therapist, counsellor, and/or support group can help. As can practicing self-care on a continuous basis, which helps to manage stress and support your fertility
As a fertility center who cares very much about the short- and long-term health of our patients and their babies, the staff at NCFMC urges you to think twice and avoid using CBD oil, cannabis products and/or smoking marijuana while you’re pregnant or nursing.
We care very much about the overall health of our patients and their babies, we urge to you avoid using CBD oil or cannabis products while pregnant.