What You Should Know About Marijuana Use & Fertility

Doctor holds marijuana leaf

More and more people are turning to alternative treatments—like marijuana and CBD—to alleviate pain, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and inflammation, but many of those people don’t consider the effects they may have on their fertility.

In Arizona, the marijuana is limited to medicinal uses only, but, since some of our patients come to see us from other states, we often get questions about its effects on fertility. As the use of cannabis becomes more mainstream across the country, questions and misconceptions about the plant are becoming more common as well.

Effects of Marijuana on Fertility

Whether you’re trying to have a baby now or sometime in the near future, this is what you need to know about how marijuana affects fertility.

It Reduces Sperm Count & Quality

A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, revealed that smoking marijuana more than once per week reduced sperm concentration by 52 percent and total sperm count by 55 percent. Another study also found that marijuana use can lead to decreased sperm motility and abnormal sperm morphology.

It Can Prevent Normal Ovulation

Marijuana’s effect on a woman’s fertility is a little more difficult to study since there isn’t something direct to measure (such as sperm count). However, some studies suggest that high amounts of THC (a chemical found in marijuana) can decrease the production of estrogen, which may delay by a few days or make ovulation irregular. If a woman’s cycle is thrown off or ovulation doesn’t occur, fertilization becomes more challenging—or in some cases, impossible.

It Can Exacerbate Pre-existing Causes of Infertility

It appears that marijuana could potentially worsen any difficulties a couple may have getting pregnant. Marijuana interferes with the normal functions of the endocannabinoid system, which plays a key role in fertilization.

Marijuana May Affect Pregnancy Too

According to research from Kaiser Permanente, the use of marijuana during pregnancy has almost doubled in recent years—in 2016, 7 percent of women admitted to using it, up from 4 percent in 2009. Often, when marijuana is being used, it is typically during the first trimester; this may be as a way to combat morning sickness, which is often more prominent during the first few months of pregnancy, or because the women don’t realize they’re pregnant yet. Some studies have found a link between marijuana use and increased chances of miscarriage, premature birth, and low birth weight. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that people stop using marijuana before even trying to get pregnant for these reasons. Still, more research on how marijuana affects a developing fetus is needed.

What About CBD?

CBD is a naturally occurring chemical found in marijuana; it contains no THC, which causes a high. Often, CBD is used to treat anxiety, PTSD, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and chronic pain. Because it can reduce stress and improve sleep, many CBD proponents believe it can also help with non-medical conception-related issues. Although CBD is generally considered to be safe to use, there’s still a lack of definitive evidence to validate whether there are any true benefits to CBD on fertility.

Better Safe Than Sorry

As of now, we still don’t know too much about the exact effects of marijuana (and CBD) on fertility. However, until more research is conducted on both the short-term and long-term effects, we recommend that anyone trying to conceive should avoid using it in any form. It’s better to be safe than sorry and mitigate any other potential obstacles to fertility.

At Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, it’s our goal to help you achieve a successful pregnancy—through proper and appropriate treatments and procedures. If you have any questions about your fertility or are having difficulty getting pregnant, contact us by calling (520) 326-0001 or visiting us online, and set up a consultation.

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