May 16, 2022

CBD & Fertility: What Everyone With Reproductive Parts Outta Know

CBD receives constant praise for its laundry list of potential health benefits as well as its use in the treatment of many chronic conditions. However, despite the fact that CBD seems like the universal answer to wellness, there are still several questions left unanswered about the cannabinoid.

For example, does CBD have an effect on fertility?

In this article, we're going to dive into the facts and talk about what we know so far about CBD and fertility. Keep reading to learn more….

CBD & Fertility: What We Know So Far

As with many CBD-related wellness topics, there's a lack of evidence to definitively say whether or not CBD products can help or hurt a couple's chances of conceiving.

While we know that CBD is both safe and legal, conducting cannabinoid-related tests on individuals trying to become pregnant or who already are pregnant is a matter of ethical concern. Therefore, it may take years for the medical community to come up with a direct answer as to whether CBD and fertility have a positive link.

However, there’s some evidence of how using CBD oil and other CBD products may indirectly help with some non-physical conception-related issues, which may prove to be valuable in the future. There’s also evidence that CBD can negatively affect the initial stages of pregnancy while cannabis can negatively affect sperm count and mobility. 

CBD & The Endocannabinoid & Reproductive Systems

The one thing that ties together CBD, health, and the body’s reproductive mechanisms is the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is both an essential and mysterious neuromodulating system that all living beings share.(1) It's responsible for helping to maintain the body's homeostasis, or balance, by regulating many of our systems and functions. Including fertility and reproduction.

This regulation is achieved using the body's naturally occurring endogenous cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), receptors, and enzymes. The ECS and how it functions is the basis for all the ways in which CBD — a naturally occurring plant cannabinoid that mimics the human body's endocannabinoids — supports health and wellness.

The ECS & Fertility

Since endocannabinoid receptors have been found in both sperm and the female reproductive tract, it’s thought that CBD may just have the potential to improve the odds of fertilization.

  • In a 2016 study, biologists detected a cannabinoid receptor in spermatozoa. They believe it’s the naturally occurring endocannabinoids in both male and female reproductive tracts that activate the spermatozoa, allowing it to penetrate the ovum during ovulation.(2)
  • It's also thought that these endocannabinoid receptors are responsible for not only improving the sperm's ability to fertilize an egg but for boosting follicle maturation and therefore ovarian function.

But, there’s still so much more to learn regarding the ECS and its role in fertility and reproduction as well as how these things are impacted by CBD use.

Can CBD Boost Fertility In Women?

Fertility can be tricky as there are both medical and non-medical reasons behind each individual woman's ability to conceive.

CBD & Medical Fertility Challenges

Sometimes there are certain lifestyle factors or health conditions that get in the way of fertilization. Other times there are specific underlying medical reasons — such as blocked fallopian tubes, cervical abnormalities, pituitary gland disorders, and so on.

Again, there’s no research drawing a straight line from those CBD softgels you take on the daily to improved fertility. Most experts in the field think that — if CBD is able to enhance the chance of conceiving — it’s likely through secondary means.(3) Like supporting one’s overall well-being, which could then raise the odds of better fertility.

CBD & Fetal Development

A couple of animal studies found that CBD might affect embryos.(3) One showed that CBD increased levels anandamide (a neurotransmitter) and this subsequently inhibited proper fetal growth. And, based on Swiss research, there’s reason to believe that CBD exposure to male fetuses can lead to testosterone and sperm issues.

Because of this, it’s generally not recommended that pregnant women use any kind cannabis during the gestational period or while nursing.

CBD & Non-Medical Fertility Challenges

When it comes to the non-medical reasons for infertility troubles, CBD may be able to help in two ways:

#1 CBD May Help Improve Sleep

Research has shown that women who sleep less than seven hours per night are 15% less likely to become pregnant compared to those who sleep for eight hours or more.(4) There are plenty of studies suggesting a strong link between insomnia or poor sleep habits and low fertility rates, which applies to both men and women.

Cortisol is one of the primary culprits involving sleep and fertility. Known as the "stress hormone," it’s released when the body perceives the threat of danger. Cortisol can suppress melatonin levels, making it difficult for individuals to fall asleep or sleep deeply enough to go through the full REM cycle the body needs. Plus, cortisol levels tend to rise with lack of sleep, which also leads to the suppression of estrogen — a necessary reproductive hormone.

CBD has become well known for its ability to improve sleep quality, which includes the regulation of cortisol production. There have been several studies showing positive outcomes for CBD used as a sleep aid for a wide range of individuals with sleep issues.(5)

#2 CBD Could Facilitate Mood Adjustment

You've likely heard about couples struggling to become pregnant and then miraculously conceiving with zero explanation as to why or how.

It’s universally believed that mood and mental wellness plays a prominent role in both fertility and pregnancy. And studies have found strong links between poor mental health and low fertility rates for both men and women.(6,7) The research in these studies suggests a correlation between stress, anxiety, and depression and the effect of these mood disorders on the release of hormones that regulate ovulation and sperm production.

CBD is largely understood to have a positive effect on a person's mood due to its impact on several neurotransmitters in the brain — specifically anandamide and adenosine.(8)

  • Anandamide is affectionately referred to as the "bliss molecule" as it produces feelings of happiness, joy, and even motivation. CBD acts as an anandamide reuptake inhibitor.(8) This means it stops the bliss molecule from being reabsorbed into the body. In turn, this increases the amount of time that it's present in the brain — resulting in overall mood improvement.
  • CBD is also known to inhibit the A2A receptor in the brain. This receptor is responsible for the reuptake of adenosine and, therefore, feelings of anxiety and depression. By inhibiting the A2A receptor, CBD helps to reduce anxiety and depression, thereby improving one's mood.(8)

And What About Cannabis & Male Fertility?

As of right now, we still don't know exactly how CBD interacts with the sperm other than its activation of the spermatozoa.

However, there’s evidence that marijuana not only reduces sperm count by up to 25%, but also affects sperm mobility.(9) This is because marijuana contains high amounts of CBD's psychoactive counterpart, THC.

A 2003 study showed that sperm exposed to high levels of THC caused abnormal changes in the sperm enzyme cap, also known as the acrosome.(9) These abnormalities resulted in the reduced ability of the sperm to swim efficiently and attach to an egg before fertilization.(9)

While there's no concrete evidence suggesting that CBD will become the answer to infertility, there are strong indications that it can support our overall health and wellness — which could be the key to fertility for some men.

Getting Help With Fertility

If you’re encountering difficulties conceiving or with pregnancy, there may be a whole assortment of options to help. CBD may just be one of them.

Our recommendation is always to consult with your healthcare provider before you start a CBD routine. This is especially important if you’re facing some sort of health or wellness challenge — like infertility. Your doctor can help you determine root causes and appropriate therapies for your specific situation.

Oh, Baby! Can CBD Help With Fertility?

When it comes to fertility, CBD could be part of the solution for individuals struggling with reproductive issues.

CBD may help with sleep and mood troubles, which can have a negative impact of fertility. But, there could still be multiple other factors — such as underlying medical conditions — that affect someone's fertility.

For those who’re pregnant, cannabis can negatively impact your fetus. So consuming CBD’s not recommended.

If you’re having fertility challenges, consult with your doctor to find out all your options and to find out if CBD is OK in your personal circumstances.

GET THE OVERALL HEALTH & WELLNESS SUPPORT WITH CBD

References

  1. Lu, HC, et al. (2016). An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System. Biological Psychiatry. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4789136
  2. (n.d.).Cannabinoid receptor activates spermatozoa. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160830121726.htm
  3. Ashton, L. (2021). CBD Oil and Fertility: Effectiveness, Safety, and Side Effects. CFAH. https://cfah.org/cbd-oil-and-fertility
  4. Kloss, JD, et al. (2015). Sleep, sleep disturbance, and fertility in women. Sleep Medicine Reviews. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4402098
  5. (2021). Is Cannabidiol a Safe and Effective Sleep Aid? Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/cbd-and-sleep
  6. Durairajanayagam, D. (2018). Lifestyle causes of male infertility. Arab Journal of Urology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5922227/#b0520
  7. (2018). Reproductive health and mental health. Womenshealth.gov. https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/living-mental-health-condition/reproductive-health-and-mental-health
  8. Melas, PA, et al. (2021). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety and Mood Disorders: Molecular Targets and Epigenetic Insights from Preclinical Research. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33668469
  9. (n.d.). Sperm from Marijuana Smokers Move Too Fast Too Early, Impairing Fertility, UB Research Shows. University of Buffalo. https://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2003/10/6427.html


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