One of the most common questions I get as a cannabis scientist specializing in women’s health is whether cannabis or CBD boots fertility or hurts your chances of conceiving.
There’s A LOT of misinformation out there on the internet, especially because writers without a scientific background are just reading headlines of papers they don’t understand. For example, there’s a paper that states abnormal-CBD boosts fertility, while there is no published paper showing regular CBD boosts fertility. Yet this paper, that looks at a synthetic chemical that is totally different than regular CBD, is incorrectly cited as proof that regular CBD from hemp or cannabis boosts fertility.
While the research in humans is still limited, there are some basic concepts and studies out there, as well as experience with patients that I’ve based this article (and my Cannabis and Motherhood course) on. Trust me, a PhD neuroscientist & author of Vitamin Weed, not an intern on a CBD oil website.
Anandamide levels and their impact on sperm have not been researched to my knowledge. In women, rapidly changing levels of anandamide are necessary for a successful pregnancy. High levels of anandamide occur at ovulation and are clinically associated with a successful pregnancy.
Low levels of anandamide, or endocannabinoid deficiency, may interfere with ovulation or the ability to get pregnant. Low levels of anandamide at embryo implantation (once that egg meets the sperm and is trying to nestle into the uterus), are associated with successful pregnancy.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, can boost anandamide levels by preventing its breakdown by an enzyme called FAAH. CBD may boost anandamide levels and support successful ovulation when high levels of anandamide are required. Low levels of anandamide are required during embryo implantation, and that means CBD use after conception may actually interfere with embryo implantation and potentially cause a failed pregnancy. Timing is everything here!
CBD can directly activate serotonin (5-HT1A) receptors, which helps boost mood and can relax both partners. Stress has a negative impact on fertility in both men and women, due to lower levels of hormones necessary for egg and sperm production and other steps in the fertility cycle. By relieving stress, CBD may have a positive impact on fertility.
The PRESTO study found cannabis (THC) use in moms or dads who were not using contraception or fertility treatments did not impact the ability of those couples to conceive. We don’t know what the effects are of CBD use, as studies haven’t been published on that yet.
We don’t have clinical research yet on the safety of CBD with IVF or how it boosts or hurts its effectiveness. We do know that reducing stress after IVF treatments actually improved the fertility of women, but this was using clowns, not CBD. Could CBD have a similar effect? We don’t know.
CBD can interact with some drugs by stopping their breakdown by specific p450 liver enzymes, so it's best to talk to your doctor before using CBD during an IVF cycle to avoid unwanted potential side effects or the potential for expensive and time-intensive IVF to not work.
CBD can be consumed via a number of methods, but the preferred method is not smoking, as burning cannabis produces ammonia & other toxins, similar to cigarette smoke, which we know has a negative impact on fertility by damaging egg & sperm. Vaping flower or resin should not be harmful and using non-smokable methods like CBD tinctures or gummies will completely avoid this issue.
For more information about the endocannabinoid system and how cannabis or CBD impacts fertility, pregnancy, and any other aspect of motherhood, please enroll in our Cannabis & Motherhood course for the first course back by science without the stigma.