Fertility and Marijuana - The Latest Research
The legalization of cannabis in Canada for recreational purposes this year has simultaneously normalized and possibly even glorified its use.
Marijuana is considered natural, it is a plant after all. But even natural substances can have a deleterious effect on fertility, esepcially in high dosages. Studies show daily marijuana use in men showed significantly lower sperm concentration and sperm counts than nonusers. Even if you don’t smoke regularly, a study with 1,970 men under 30 revealed negative changes in semen morphology with the use of cannabis in the three months prior to collection.
A study of 400 women undergoing Assisted Reproductive Technology such as IUI or IVF while simultaneously using cannabis were twice as likely to miscarry. Another study found lower egg yields and fertilization rates. New findings are also finding that marijuana use while pregnant can impair ovarian reserve in the future children causing reduced fertility in adult life.
What about vaping? Whether you’re consuming cannabis in tincture form, capsule, vaping, edibles, or smoking, it is still entering the bloodstream and having a deleterious effect on egg and sperm cells.
What to do if marijuana has been a part of your life and you’re currently trying to conceive? The first step would be to stop (and find healthier means of reducing stress, pain, or insomnia with regular acupuncture, herbal therapy, supplementation, low level laser therapy, or naturopathy). I would then recommend to wait to try to conceive for at least 3 months. It takes roughly 90-100 days for complete maturation of sperm and egg cells, so the follicles and sperm cells that will be mature in 3 months time will bear the negative effects of cannabis use, making it better to wait until that time has passed. This would be the perfect time to work on preconception care by balancing hormones, reducing inflammation, or aiding in liver detoxification to reach your peak fertility potential.
To be completely transparent, there are a few studies floating around insisting marijuana has no negative effect and can even have a positive effect on male fertility, but it is unclear whether this is merely showing lack of evidence of harm rather than true improvement. Dosage is also extremely important. If this were, in fact, true, the use of marijuana would need to be at a particular dosage for it to be effectively, and not likely the amount consumed by a habitual user. There's also not a lot of research on the difference between THC consumption, combination THC/CBD, and just CBD use and its effect on fertility. Perhaps marijuana’s legalization will incite more research into its effects on fertility. But until then, current studies are showing it is better to be safe than sorry and avoid use entirely when trying to conceive.
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