Does CBD affect fertility? That was the question running through my mind as my fiancé, and I planned our wedding and discussed our future kids.
I am a daily CBD user. I have seen the benefits of microdosing in my own personal life when it comes to relieving inflammation and lowering my stress and anxiety.
But at the grand age of 39, as we discussed when we wanted to have kids, I wondered what I needed to be doing to improve my fertility.
And my daily use of CBD was one of the prime questions running through my head as I thought about changes I might have to make.
Luckily, I have a friend who is a fertility coach, and some of the things she taught me helped me get my health and hormones under control. And we discussed my use of CBD and how that might impact my fertility.
So I entered the Google wormhole and read everything I could find on CBD and fertility. Which isn't much. CBD is still in its infancy with clinical research. So what I found was controversial, and no one doctor had a straight answer.
The effects of CBD and fertility are controversial. Clinical research is minimal on the good and bad of using CBD while trying to conceive. Here is what you should know about CBD and fertility.
What is CBD?
CBD is short of cannabidiol. It is a natural-occurring compound in the cannabis plant.
THC is the other well-known compound found in the cannabis plant. Often people hear the word cannabis, and they automatically think they will get high.
But that is wrong.
THC is the only cannabinoid in the cannabis plant that produces a mind-altering effect. While, CBD is non-euphoric, meaning it won't get you high.
In the United States, CBD is legal if it is hemp-derived.
When you take CBD or THC, it interacts with your body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is what regulates balance in your body. There are two primary receptors, CB1 and CB2, linked to several essential processes, including pain, immune system responses, sleep, and the reproductive system.
When your body is functioning correctly, the ECS receptors activate naturally through a system of internally-produced cannabinoids that help restore normal body conditions.
However, sometimes these processes stray off course, making it hard for your natural endocannabinoids to keep your body balanced. When you
introduce external cannabinoids, like CBD or THC, interact with the body, and restore balance to parts that have strayed off course.
A Quick Look at Women's Fertility
For some, fertility seems as simple as having sex and then a month later realizing you are pregnant. For others, it's not so easy.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that close to 6.1 million women ages 15-44 have difficulties getting pregnant. Research also shows that approximately 40% of couples' conception challenges result from women and another 40% result from men. That means that 20% goes to a combination of factors seen in both males and females.
A woman's ability to conceive boils down to whether or not ovulation occurs each month. Ovulation is when eggs are released from the ovaries and is the only time of the month that a woman can get pregnant.
Ovulation can be disrupted by ailments like endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and other conditions. Age, though, is the primary disruptor of ovulation.
As a woman gets older, eggs may not be as healthy or plentiful. The ovaries also become less able to release eggs. And she may even have other health conditions that also disrupt fertility.
Herbal medicines, diet, water consumption, and exercise can all play a naturopathic role in one's approach to improving fertility.
And since we know CBD and interact with the receptors for your reproductive system, it would seem it's the perfect supplement to add to your daily routine, right?
But is it?
What We Know About CBD & Fertility
CBD is a new wellness product, but its plant has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. Although it has a rich history of uses and benefits, minimal research shows the benefits or side effects of taking CBD when trying to get pregnant.
As we know, the endocannabinoid system helps regulate the reproductive system. And we know that the neurotransmitter anandamide plays a key role in fertility. High levels of anandamide occur at ovulation and are clinically associated with a successful pregnancy. Low levels of anandamide may interfere with ovulation of the ability to get pregnant.
CBD May Boost Anandamide Levels
CBD may help boost anandamide levels by reducing the breakdown of an enzyme called FAAH. Increased anandamide levels are not always a positive thing when trying to conceive.
High levels of anandamide are excellent during ovulation. But your body prefers low levels of anandamide when the egg meets the sperm and tries to nestle into your uterus. If your anandamide levels are too high at this stage (say from taking CBD), it could interfere with the process and cause a failed pregnancy. Timing of anandamide levels is critical to fertility, so think carefully about your CBD use when trying to conceive.
CBD May Help Lower Stress of Getting Pregnant
Aside from boosting anandamide levels, CBD may help you deal with the pressures of trying to get pregnant. CBD may activate serotonin receptors, which help restore mood and lower stress. And since stress can be a factor with infertility, alleviating stress may help with fertility.
CBD, Sperm and the Female Productive Tract
The endocannabinoid receptors have been found in sperm and the female productive tract. Since CBD interacts with your cannabinoid receptors, it's thought that it can improve a sperm's ability to fertilize an egg, boost ovarian function and follicle maturation. Yet, there is no substantial evidence to support this theory.
THC and Fertility
We can't focus on fertility without briefly mentioning the effects of THC and male fertility. Studies on THC and male fertility indicate that there was an association with a nearly 30% reduction in sperm concentration and sperm count, as well as an increase in erectile dysfunction when using more than once a week. And some research shows there is a higher risk for testicular cancer among marijuana uses.
There is just not enough research as to whether CBD is beneficial or not for fertility. But with the information we have on the effect of THC lowering fertility results, it might be wise to postpone your use of CBD.
CBD is a natural wellness product with minimal known side effects- low blood pressure, dry mouth, lightheadedness, and drowsiness. And like natural herbal medicine, it might seem okay to take all the time. But there is so much more to learn about the endocannabinoid system, its role in fertility, and how it interacts and is impacted by CBD.
If you are trying to conceive or will be, do your due diligence and get all the facts. Talk to your doctor about your CBD use and fertility, and then make an informed decision.
If it helps, the FDA says, "Male reproductive toxicity, or damage to fertility in males or male offspring of women who have been exposed, has been reported in studies of animals exposed to CBD."
For me, we decided to pause my daily use of CBD until more research can be provided on the impacts it could have on the baby.