Can Cannabis Affect Getting Pregnant?

April 18, 2023
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Can smoking weed affect getting pregnant?

Do you find yourself asking the question "Can smoking weed affect getting pregnant?" If so, you're in the right place. This article covers all the questions you have about marijuana and fertility, including the questions ‘Can weed make you infertile,’ ‘Can smoking weed affect getting pregnant,’ and ‘Can THC delay periods?’

Smoking weed isn't the only way cannabis can affect your fertility or ability to get pregnant. That's why we'll also cover CBD and fertility. By the end of this article, you'll have information to help you make the best cannabis consumption choices for you. If you're ready to learn if smoking weed can affect getting pregnant, then keep reading!

Can weed make you infertile?

According to early studies, smoking marijuana might raise a woman's chance of infertility and pregnancy loss.

A study by the National Institutes of Health analyzed data of 1,228 women ages 18 - 40 who were having a hard time conceiving a child. The researchers sought to understand if cannabis consumption impacts a woman's fertility. They found that women who consumed cannabis and who were trying to conceive had a 40 - 42 percent lower chance of successfully getting pregnant.

The study also found that women who consumed cannabis while trying to get pregnant had altered levels of hormones that are associated with ovulation, especially luteinizing hormone. Luteinizing hormone is a hormone released by the anterior pituitary gland that triggers ovulation in women. While the study was unable to conclude definitively if cannabis consumption causes infertility in women, its findings are consistent with other research suggesting that cannabis disrupts female reproductive hormones, making it harder for female cannabis consumers to conceive.

In another study, researchers looked at how using cannabis before becoming pregnant impacted the ability to carry a baby to term. The study looked at 421 women and gathered self-reported data on their cannabis consumption. 41% of the women reported consuming cannabis in their lifetime and 3% of the women reported actively smoking cannabis. In this study, the women who had either had consumed cannabis in their lifetime or were actively consuming cannabis had twice the risk of pregnancy loss. 

While the study was limited by the number of participants, the researchers’ findings suggest that cannabis consumption can increase the risk of a woman having a miscarriage and negatively impact a woman's fertility.

Brian A. Levine, MD, founding partner and practice director of CCRM New York shared in an interview that new research presented at the Scientific Congress of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, reported that “smoking marijuana more than once a week was associated with an increase in miscarriage."

Does THC cause infertility in females?

It is still unknown how the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) affects the ability of women to get pregnant, but it is known to interact with the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis that regulates sex hormones. Researchers are exploring how THC and other cannabinoids may decrease libido by interfering with the HPG axis.

The available research on THC and infertility in females suggests that consistent exposure to THC can inhibit the secretion of reproductive hormones such as luteinizing hormone and prolactin, a hormone created in the pituitary gland that is responsible for the growth of breasts and the production of milk in women. By blocking the production of luteinizing hormone and prolactin, THC does not allow a woman's body to optimally prepare for conception.

While research is unable to definitively answer the question, "Can weed make you infertile?" early signs are pointing to cannabis consumption making it harder for women to get pregnant.

Can smoking weed affect getting pregnant?

Not all research indicates that cannabis has an adverse effect on a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. A study of 4194 women found that there is little association between female marijuana use and fecundability, the likelihood of conception during a month, or during a menstrual cycle. This study conflicts other research and physician insights that suggest smoking weed can affect getting pregnant due to hormonal disruption.

Dr. Felice Gersh, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB-GYN) and founder of the Integrative Medical Group in Irvine, California states that THC, especially high amounts of THC, can result in a decrease in the production of estrogen. The female body needs a "high estrogen spike" for a woman's body to ovulate and release an egg to fertilize. Dr. Gersh explains that if a woman doesn't ovulate, then she won't be able to get pregnant.

“I quit smoking weed and got pregnant!”

While more research is needed to definitively answer the question, "Can smoking weed affect getting pregnant" there is plenty of anecdotal data in online forums of women claiming "I quit smoking weed and got pregnant."

In a Reddit forum, a woman shared she was trying to get pregnant and had quit smoking weed to help her do so. She asked if other women had done the same and had success. Many women responded with comments like "I quit smoking marijuana about two weeks before I ovulated and I got pregnant this cycle" and "Wasn’t trying to get pregnant but got pregnant and stayed pregnant after one day of quitting. No relapses in smoking. Two previous miscarriages when smoking (weed)."

Anecdotal reports suggest that smoking weed does hurt fertility, negatively impacts the chances of getting pregnant, and that women may improve their chances of getting pregnant and carrying a baby to term if they abstain from using cannabis.

Can THC delay periods?

The answer to the question "Can THC delay periods" is "Yes" according to Dr. Kecia Gaither, an OB-GYN and maternal-fetal medicine physician at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln.

According to Dr. Kecia Gaither, the endocannabinoid system plays a role in reproduction and the endocannabinoid receptors are distributed throughout the reproductive system. THC disrupts the delicate balance of the endocannabinoid system, which can disrupt the menstrual cycle and cause women to experience delayed periods.

CBD and Conceptions

In an interview, Julie Lamb, MD, Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (FACOG) and medical advisor at Modern Fertility, was asked for information on CBD and Conceptions. 

Lamb's general recommendation for couples trying to conceive was to avoid Cannabidiol (CBD). Her recommendation stems from a lack of research looking at the use of CBD before pregnancy and during pregnancy as well as research conducted on mouse embryos which found that the anandamide, the first endocannabinoid to be discovered and fatty acid neurotransmitter, increased with CBD consumption and inhibited embryo development. 

CBD during IVF

The impact of consuming CBD during IVF has not been studied extensively. As a result of the lack of research, fertility clinics such as Shady Grove Fertility recommend that people not consume CBD during IVF. Their main concern around the consumption of CBD during IVF has to do with the lack of regulation of the product, specifically dosing with products containing less or more CBD than labeled, or containing other substances that may be harmful to fertility.  

Key Takeaways

  • Smoking weed can decrease a woman's chance of ovulating and getting pregnant.
  • Women weed smokers trying to conceive may have better luck if they quit smoking weed.
  • THC can delay periods.
  • There is a lack of research on the impact of CBD consumption on fertility.
  • Fertility clinics recommend avoiding CBD consumption during IVF.

There you have it - everything you have been wondering about smoking weed, fertility, and getting pregnant! If you or a loved one is having trouble getting pregnant and believe cannabis consumption may be impacting you fertility, speak to your doctor.

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