The legalization of cannabis (marijuana) in 22 U.S. states and one territory has created the mistaken belief that cannabis isn’t harmful. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and there is a particular cause for concern in the fertility world.
Yes, cannabis is indeed considered medicinal in some cases, but typically those benefits are prescribed for patients with chronic pain, nausea, anxiety, depression, and addiction to more harmful substances. If you or your partner currently uses cannabis to treat the above, speak to your healthcare provider or fertility specialist honestly so they can help you find alternatives as you begin your family.
It will take decades to know for sure how cannabis and marijuana-related products impact fertility. For now, researchers can draw distinct correlations between cannabis use and both male and female fertility. As a result, we recommend avoiding recreational cannabis use if you plan to start a family anytime soon.
Whether you or your partner enjoy smoking, vaping, or ingesting, fertility specialists around the globe recommend quitting to improve your chances of fertility, pregnancy, and newborn health.
University of Chicago Medicine urologist Omer Raheem, MD, authored a study reviewing marijuana and its effect on male fertility health. His research concluded that men who use cannabis products have:
Not only did men who use marijuana have lower sperm counts, they also had lower sperm volume.
This matters because the more sperm there is when the egg is released, the higher the chance of conception. Semen serves as both a nutritional/energy source as well as extra swimming support for sperm. Just as vaginal dryness or lack of lubrication impacts female fertility, lower semen volume can make it harder for sperm to meet their target.
Sperm shape (morphology) and ability to move/swim (motility) are two additional factors we assess when evaluating male fertility factors. Dr. Raheem’s study confirmed what other studies have noted: male marijuana users are more likely to have poorly-shaped sperm and/or sperm that don’t swim as well as they should.
Cannabis is used most often to enjoy the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The former is associated with relaxation, reduction in anxiety, and as an anti-inflammatory. The latter is mostly appreciated for its ability to get you high. However, it turns out that CBD binds to certain sperm receptors, which changes the sperm’s shape and movement for the worse.
It’s not surprising that something that negatively impacts male fertility also affects female fertility. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing (yet) how cannabis does or doesn’t impact egg quality. However, recent studies have made two crucial connections between cannabis use and female fertility in general.
Several studies found correlations between women who use cannabis and disrupted menstrual cycles, including a delayed luteal phase that negatively impacts ovulation. Any irregularities in egg maturation and release negatively compromise female fertility.
Poor IVF outcome
The combination of poor sperm health and the effects of marijuana on the female reproductive health innately result in poorer IVF outcomes. Most often as the result of spontaneous miscarriage after implantation.
The team at Fertility Solutions has advocated that healthy lifestyle that supports fertility in every way. In addition to all the other lifestyle choices we recommend – diet, exercise, weight management, and sleep – we also recommend couples cease using cannabis products while trying to conceive and during pregnancy.
Are you scheduling an appointment with Fertility Solutions? We can’t tell you how essential it is to be honest with your nurses and physician. It’s the only way to do all we can to optimize your fertility and health.