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. More and more people are turning to alternative remedies to alleviate pain, stress, and much more, but how could marijuana and CBD impact fertility?
CBD Oil And Fertility
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.
How Does Marijuana and CBD Impact Fertility?
More and more people are turning to alternative remedies like marijuana and CBD oils to alleviate pain, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and inflammation, but how could this be affecting your fertility?
It’s certainly a controversial and understudied topic. Many studies rely on self-reported use and data suggests dose-dependent effects on human health and fertility. For example, one study found “the effects of Cannabis and THC on the human ovary consist in suppression of ovulation and other studies have indicated increased anovulatory cycles and short luteal phases in chronic women smokers.” (1) Data also suggests women who smoke marijuana and undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment produce poor quality oocytes and have lower pregnancy rates compared to non-users. (1)
In regard to marijuana use during pregnancy, one study concluded that “maternal marijuana use does not increase the risk of adverse obstetrical outcomes or fetal anomalies but does increase the risk for small for gestational age and neonatal intensive care unit admission.” (2)
Studies on how marijuana use may affect male fertility are conflicting, but several studies have found that routine usage of cannabis, more than once per week, was associated with a nearly 30 percent reduction in median sperm concentration and total sperm count as well as increased incidence of erectile dysfunction. (3) Interestingly, while some research suggests higher risk for testicular cancers among marijuana users, other data supports anti-neoplastic effects of cannabinoids on prostate cancer. (3)
You don’t have to look far to find positive testimonials supporting the benefits of CBD for a plethora of ailments. But there is actually only one FDA-approved prescription CBD oil called Epixiolex, which effectively treats two types of epilepsy. Many legitimate studies are currently underway to assess CBD as a feasible treatment option for Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and anxiety although there remains to be a lack of conclusive evidence supporting its use.
While some CBD dispensaries tout the safety and efficacy of its use to promote fertility in men and woman and alleviate the pains of pregnancy, there is inadequate data supporting CBD use during pregnancy or while undergoing fertility treatment.
CBD does not have the same psychoactive properties as marijuana and most users report good tolerance but there is still a risk of side effects such as dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. (4)
A major concern over the use of CBD oil is that there are no regulations or oversight laws for its production. For this reason, the purity and dosage of CBD in products can differ greatly from what is marketed on the label. A recent study of 84 CBD products bought online showed that nearly 43 percent were under-labeled (more CBD existed in the product than what the label indicated), while 26 percent were over-labeled (less CBD existed in the product than what the label indicated). In addition, THC was found in 18 products. (5)
CBD can also interact with other medications, such as blood thinners.
When it comes to fertility, these are two major reasons to consult with your physician and think twice before using CBD products while trying to conceive.
The Wellness Center at Shady Grove Fertility offers non-medicinal alternative and integrative health services—acupuncture, massage and nutrition—that may also help alleviate pain, stress, anxiety, insomnia, and inflammation while safely promoting and supporting fertility and pregnancy too.
- Acupuncture has been used for centuries and its key principles are based around the concept of balance so that our bodies can function optimally. Acupuncture aims to correct imbalances and eliminate symptoms that the imbalance may have caused. Acupuncture has been used to help with all stages of the fertility journey—from conception, to delivery, to postpartum healing.
- Massage is another form of physical medicine that can support patients through fertility. Our massage therapists use research-informed and results-oriented techniques that have benefitted thousands of fertility clients for over 15 years. Our Fertility Enhancing Massage (FEM) Protocol is a five-part series using massage and related techniques to enhance the health and functioning of the pelvic and abdominal organs, and to promote the client’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. The five parts of the protocol focus on cleansing and detoxification, enhancing reproductive circulation, oxygenating the pelvic organs, encouraging pelvic alignment, and combating stress.
- Good nutrition is the foundation of overall health. We are what we eat and food can either be quite healing or detrimentally toxic to our bodies. Learning to eat a healthy balanced diet can reduce systemic inflammation, improve gastrointestinal health, and correct nutrient deficiencies that are often linked to chronic disease and many complicating symptoms. Whether seeking nutritional guidance for weight loss, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), general fertility guidelines, or prenatal nutrition, our registered nutritionist works with each patient to create an individualized plan that supports health and wellness goals. We work with most major insurance companies.
To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please call our New Patient Center at 1-877-971-7755 or click here to complete our online form.
1. Cannabinoids and Reproduction: A Lasting and Intriguing History. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010 Oct; 3(10): 3275–3323.
2. Association between marijuana use and adverse obstetrical and neonatal outcomes. J Perinatol. 2015 Dec;35(12):991-5. doi: 10.1038/jp.2015.120. Epub 2015 Sep 24.
3. The relationship between cannabis and male infertility, sexual health, and neoplasm: a systematic review. 2019 Mar;7(2):139-147. doi: 10.1111/andr.12585. Epub 2019 Feb 15.
4. Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t.
5. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017 Nov 7; 318(17): 1708–1709.