CBD and Fertility: What we know
By now we’ve all heard the crazy hubbub about the growing use of CBD for certain medical ailments. One that we feel that has been under-discussed is that its a possible benefit for fertility in women. Fertility is a problem for 10% of women in the United States, as of 2018. 6.1 million women between the ages of 15-44 are infertile and have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Having children is a dream that many have, yet many can’t fulfill.
Infertility is actually a relatively common problem that many people stress over. Rightfully so, as it’s not just a problem for women, but men too. One in six couples are infertile, meaning nearly 17% of couples are stuck with a problem. The difficult part is the causes of infertility, as it can be genetic or environmental. And while the causes are different for both men and women, it remains a common problem.
Couples going through this may be heartbroken, stressed, or even angry about this. And of course, these can also influence fertility. The route that is often used by medical professionals to treat infertility (in men) is a procedure on the varicocele. A common cause of infertility in men is having enlarged veins that hold the testes called a varicocele, which in turn can cause many complications with sperm count. For women, infertility commonly means a problem with ovulation. Eggs are not being produced due to hormone imbalances, including estrogen. However, this does not only include estrogen, as it can be a plethora of imbalances.
What can CBD do?
CBD has been exploding in the research field, as you likely have heard, and fertility is actually being studied in many areas with the relationship between CBD and fertility.
The reason CBD is such an appealing approach for aiding fertility is different for everyone. Perhaps avoiding a procedure is a priority for some, or maybe trying out the natural side first. Whatever the choice is, the fact is that CBD is much more than just a “secondary” option.
It’s important to first understand what CBD is before analyzing its effect on fertility. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the many compounds in marijuana and hemp plants that give many of the medical benefits. The main difference that CBD has is its non-psychoactive properties. This means that using CBD will not give a “high” that THC, its counterpart, would bring from cannabis. While THC has its medical benefits as well, CBD is the focus. A vast amount of animals have what is known as the endocannabinoid system. This is a biological process inside the immune system designed to process and utilize certain cannabinoids, such as CBD.
Studies suggest that higher doses of CBD can actually influence the levels of estrogen in the immune system. Because CBD binds to your CB1 and CB2 receptors, it can be an efficient tool that monitors such imbalances. In fact, CBD can monitor blood sugar levels with diabetics and can even prevent the pancreas from over-producing. One study found that cannabidiol binds to estrogen receptors in rats via the endocannabinoid system. Estrogen boosts desire and fertility as well. However, estrogen is not the only part that makes up for healthy fertility. There’s a delicate balance between several hormones that make up fertility, however, this is promising.
One study also suggests that CBD may have a bigger role in female reproductivity than originally thought. Through the endocannabinoid system, CB2 receptors can boost anandamide levels by preventing its breakdown by an enzyme called fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). Anandamide, in specific levels, can help correct ovulation.
Should you consider CBD?
Promising research is being done on infertility and the use of cannabidiol, but much more research is needed in order to suggest CBD as a viable option for those who are infertile. In fact, some research does suggest that cannabis (including THC and many other cannabinoids) have no effect on conception. Infertility is a complex issue and may have underlying causes that simply cannot be fixed with CBD. However, hormone imbalance being a huge one, CBD is gaining attention. In fact, some of the strongest research that argues CBD can help with conception is by relieving stress. For women, increasing anandamide levels can reduce stress and increase the likelihood of ovulation.
Research is also being done on the synergistic effect that CBD and THC have when used together. From this point, clinical trials are needed in order to study the effect of conception when using THC/CBD. This is still controversial in the research field, as using THC with pregnant women, or those who are trying still have uncertain results. Research suggests that cannabis could reduce labor pain by relieving contractions, but could also reduce head circumference.
For now, research is still needed in order to suggest CBD as a solution. However, for those who are willing and able, CBD may help your anxiety and stress behind infertility, possibly more. Remember to ask your physician if you are thinking about trying CBD, especially if you are using other medications. CBD, and other cannabinoids, can directly affect other medications in many ways. It’s important to understand that CBD/THC is still being researched with pregnancy and still needs to be studied.
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