We have tackled the effects of cannabis on male fertility in a previous post. Now, let’s talk about how it affects the ladies.
Compared to male fertility, female fertility is more complex. This is because it involves more than just the ability to conceive. Female fertility also includes the scientific miracle of incubating another human inside your body until it reaches full term.
Infertility issues are plaguing couples nowadays. For American couples alone, close to 15% are having problems conceiving. And because fertility treatments not only cost a fortune, but also take a toll on people physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually, many are seeking more affordable and more natural alternatives.
So, with cannabis taking center stage as the new miracle drug, many people are wondering whether cannabis can also help increase a woman’s likelihood of getting pregnant. Does it improve female fertility or does it impede it?
Cannabis and ovulation
A review of clinical literature in 2002 published in the Journal of Pharmacology found that the use of cannabis decreases the level of luteinizing hormone (LH) secreted by the pituitary gland. LH is a sex hormone that triggers the ovulation.
One of the studies cited in this review had tested the impact of THC in monkey ovulation, and it was found that LH levels dropped 50-80%, causing ovulation to stop. However, after 3 to 4 months of using THC, the monkeys started ovulating and menstruating again. This meant that as they built tolerance for THC, things returned to normal and the monkeys had no more trouble conceiving.
Cannabis and embryo implantation
According to a study on animal model published in the Journal for Clinical Investigation in 2006, frequent cannabis use was correlated to the egg’s slow travel from the ovary to the uterus.
When it comes to fertilized ovum, time is very essential. Once an ovum is fertilized, it needs to implant onto the uterus within a certain time period before it loses its viability. And because cannabis can delay the speed by which the fertilized ovum travels, a new formed embryo may be unable to implant in time to create a viable pregnancy. This results to early miscarriage, or even to ectopic pregnancy.
Cannabis and infertility risks
Dr. Ricardo Yazigi of Maryland’s Shady Grove Fertility Center told Vice in an interview that the risk of infertility in women was greater among those who had used cannabis within one year of trying to conceive than those who had used it in the more distant past. However, he said that the consistency between the duration and frequency of cannabis use with the effect was not clear.
Yazigi also noted that the effect of cannabis on ovulation appeared to be muted in women who use the drug regularly compared to those who only used it occasionally. This could be because regular cannabis users had already built up a tolerance to the drug.
The good news
The use of cannabis may not bring about positive effects on fertility, but the good news is that it will not cause any permanent damage to a woman’s ability to conceive.
The only thing to remember is if you are having some trouble getting pregnant now, using cannabis possibly won’t make things any easier for you or your partner. In other words, cannabis might slow things down for couples trying to get pregnant.
This means that you may have to put away the vape or skip rolling a joint while you try to conceive so that you can get your reproductive systems back in working order.
It is also worth noting that because of the illegal status of cannabis at federal level in the U.S., there really isn’t enough concrete evidence to fully support the suggested adverse effects of cannabis on fertility. So we really cannot say for sure until more advanced research is done in humans (and not in mice or monkeys).