02 Jun Cannabis Use While Trying to Conceive
The legalization of marijuana, or cannabis, in multiple states, combined with the rise of THC-centered vaping and “health-related” products, makes it feel like cannabis products are perfectly safe.
While topical use to reduce muscle pain may be acceptable, we recommend abstaining from ingesting or inhaling cannabis products if before you try to conceive (TTC).
Risks of Cannabis Use While Trying to Conceive (TTC)
Using cannabis products for mind or mood-altering results or social/recreational purposes is proven to impact fertility. Here’s how:
1. Confuses the body’s natural hormone cycles
The “active” mind-altering agent in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), interferes with the body’s endocannabinoid system. The result is that our natural communication system can be confused by the influx of additional cannabinoids, and that can alter hormone balance – including reproductive hormone balance.
Researchers continue to examine how this balance impacts fertility but have seen how smoking or ingesting cannabis confuses the biological communication network responsible for balancing hormone production and hormone levels. One study indicated a correlation between women who smoked marijuana and delayed ovulation cycles, similar to the ovulatory issues seen in women who smoke cigarettes.
2. Negative impact on sperm count and health
Numerous studies have proven a correlation between men who smoke or ingest cannabis products with lower sperm count and motility. In a 2019 systematic review analyzing cannabis use and male fertility, researchers from multiple universities concluded:
The strongest evidence of cannabis-induced alterations in male fertility is in the category of semen parameters. Research supports a role for cannabis in reducing sperm count and concentration, inducing abnormalities in sperm morphology, reducing sperm motility and viability, and inhibiting capacitation and fertilizing capacity.
Male fertility factors are as important as female factors, so men trying to conceive are wise to reduce or eliminate THC to give their sperm the best chance possible. Read Boosting Male Fertility for more on that topic.
3. Increases your chances of miscarriage
While studies specific to marijuana use and its effects on conception, fertility, pregnancy, and neonatal outcomes are still new, evidence shows women using ART (IVF or IUI) to get pregnant and who use marijuana have an increased risk of pregnancy loss. In one small study, researchers determined marijuana use doubled the risk of miscarriage.
4. Higher rates of stillbirth
A stillbirth is one of the most devastating types of death that parents experience. What seems like a perfectly healthy pregnancy approaches or reaches full-term, and then the baby is born without a heartbeat and unrevivable. Unfortunately, marijuana use during pregnancy seems to increase a woman’s risk of stillbirth.
5. Exacerbates existing infertility factors
THC can negatively impact existing infertility issues because of the confusion cannabis causes in the body’s biophysical communication processes. The endocannabinoid system influences almost every aspect of the female reproductive system, from hormone levels and ovulation to tubal transport and the implantation of fertilized eggs into the uterine lining.
The presence of external THC can hinder any inconsistencies or irregularities caused by existing infertility factors, such as PCOS, thyroid issues, or difficulty producing a thick, rich endometrial layer.
6. It can harm your baby
Sadly, studies show that using cannabis while pregnant can negatively impact your baby’s well-being. Perhaps this is the most compelling reason to stay THC-free while TTC, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. Your baby’s health is a top priority.
Women who smoke or ingest marijuana or THC while pregnant are more likely to have babies with:
- Restricted during mid to late-pregnancy
- Lower birth weights
- Cognitive delays and deficits
- Poor executive functioning
If you use marijuana or THC products, have an honest conversation with your OB/GYN or fertility specialist. S/he will listen and offer healthy alternatives that support your conception, pregnancy, and the birth of a healthy, full-term baby.
Are you struggling to get pregnant? Do you have an existing infertility factor that is preventing you from conceiving or interrupting your pregnancies? Contact us here at Virginia Fertility & IVF to schedule a consultation. Our team of doctors, nurses, and friendly staff are dedicated to supporting women and their partners to take a holistic approach to fertility health and wellbeing.