The Link Between Endocannabinoids and Fertility
A guest article by Natalie Gray, on behalf of Worldwide Marijuana Seeds.
What is the link between endocannabinoids and fertility? Does marijuana have a positive or negative effect on fertility? First, we need to understand how cannabis impacts our body and specifically our reproductive processes. Let’s start by defining the Endocannabinoid System and how it impacts fertility.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and Fertility
The endocannabinoid system plays an essential role in the biological processes necessary for reproduction. The human body’s reproductive system is regulated by the signaling of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). In a woman, the ECS influences the transport of the egg and the receptivity of the uterus through embryo implantation. The ECS is also involved in a multitude of pathways after the embryo has been fixed.
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New evidence gathered from scientists and researchers has shed light on a little-known area of the ECS that has until now been shrouded in mystery. The scientists presented a proof of the presence of the G protein-coupled receptor 18 (GPR18) receptor in sperm cells. GPR18 was for some time seen as completely separate from the more well-known CB1 and CB2 receptors. This research contributes compelling new data that the receptors play a vital role in one of the most significant biological processes necessary for reproduction.
Effect of Cannabis on Fertility
In a paper published in 2010 by BioMed Central, the authors demonstrate that disrupting the normal activities of ECS pathways by adding cannabinoids can alter various vital in utero processes, including fetal neural & cognitive development, angiogenesis (the formation of new red blood cells), cellular replication, and tissue differentiation. Other obstetrics-gynecology laboratory research recommends that marijuana consumption could endanger the developing fetus.
Let’s take a look at how the main cannabinoids in cannabis, THC and CBD, impact fertility.
Neovascularization: angiogenesis and vasculogenesis. Isner J., Vale P., Losordo D. and el. Angiogenesis and cardiovascular disease. Dialogues in cardiovascular medicine. 2001; 3: 145-170.
THC and Fertility
Cannabis contains the compound, THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), alongside many other active compounds. THC chemicals stay for an extended period in the fat molecules of the human system. Thus, an active user of cannabis may have a problem in the status of their fertility. Inside human sperm are cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid, anandamide. Anandamide excites and triggers the cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system and other human organs, including sexual organs. This suggests that cannabinoids play an essential role in the inception of humans.
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The increased volume of cannabinoids in people who use cannabis could potentially shoot the natural endocannabinoid-signal systems in reproductive organs, which could negatively affect fertility. Due to the appearance of active cannabinoid receptors within human sperm, research has been done in further detail about the cause of unusual infertility among men and women, and it was suggested that THC exhibits a potential hazard to the male reproductive system.
There is some possibility that use of high amounts of THC can be a factor in causing infertility in women as well. Cannabinoid receptors are also detected in the female reproductive system. With continual use of cannabis, small amounts of THC become present in vaginal fluid, and could theoretically increase estrogen production (and essentially act in a similar manner to the contraceptive pill, but with much lower reliability). During the process of conceiving, when the sperm gets into contact with THC, the THC absorbs the sperm, turning it into overstimulated sperm.
It seems that THC may affect fertility in males more than it affects fertility in females. Sperm in cannabis users drives too fast and too early, which makes it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg inside the vaginal canal. This leads to burn out, where the sperm is over-stimulated and traveling at a slower pace before it gets in touch with the egg.
CBD and Fertility
Most research is discouraging about taking cannabinoids during pregnancy, but at least one investigation points to a conclusion with a reasonable explanation as to why. Conducted in Scotland and printed in the Journal of the Society for Reproduction and Fertility, the study’s researchers resolve that CBD can decrease uterine compressions , which are essential for managing postpartum bleeding. This research was done with a synthetic CBD, called abnormal cannabidiol (abn-CBD).
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A report from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology, Georgetown University Medical Center, points out that the ECS plays a role in motility, viability, and sperm count. The unique and varied role of the ECS in the human body, including its effects upon fertility and conception, could be an area of concern regarding cannabinoid use.
Using Cannabis during Pregnancy
Cannabis use during pregnancy can pose hazards and should come with a noteworthy warning. There has always been a contentious debate regarding the legality of cannabis, where one questions the medical benefits and how to utilize its different effects.
Is there a distinct link between ECS and fertility, particularly in females who want to become pregnant? There could well be, and from the evidence we have so far, there is some possibility that consuming high amounts of THC could contribute to infertility – both in males and females. So far, the evidence suggests that this aspect of THC affects males more than females, but this area of research is young.
Marijuana seeds, plants and other products derived from cannabis could be listed in a different classification of drug scheduling, where the purpose of usage lies to the user. Cannabis has been found to be therapeutic in some (and perhaps not an insignificant number of) patients experiencing severe health problems. Cannabis consumption is potentially helpful for a wide range of conditions, such as neuropathic pain, glaucoma, spasticity, and movement disorder. However, where pregnancy is concerned, as well as attempts to conceive, it is perhaps wise to take a more conservative approach.
The physicians at Leafwell can advise you about how cannabis may affect your fertility and other health issues. Connect with us today to apply for a medical marijuana card.
Natalie Gray is a Biochemical Engineer. She works in the Research and Development at Tsubasa Builders Inc., with a team that focuses on the design and construction of unit processes. She is a recreational & medical marijuana supporter and her love for organic chemistry brought her to medical cannabis. She grows her own flowers, works on different projects, and studies anything above and under cannabis’ roots.
Article written by
Tina Magrabi Senior Content Writer
Tina Magrabi is a writer and editor specializing in holistic health. She has written hundreds of articles for Weedmaps where she spearheaded the Ailments series on cannabis medicine. In addition, she has written extensively for the women's health blog, SafeBirthProject, as well as print publications including Destinations Magazine and Vero's Voice. Tina is a Yale University alumna and certified yoga instructor with a passion for the outdoors.
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What You Need to Know About Marijuana and Your Fertility
I’ve been putting off writing this post for awhile now.
Mary Jane, weed, pot, reefer, Bobo bush, no matter what you call it, marijuana can be a very polarizing topic. And I tend to steer clear of controversy, at least in my online life.
When you talk about cannabis, folks tend to assume you’re a stoner. Add in my fro, fondness for boho fashion, and love of essential oils, and it’s easy for people to assume I must be. Which considering my license as a dietitian and legal status of marijuana where I live, would be a violation of the law and my code of ethics.
Truth be told, aside from the time in elementary school when my older friend (who had much older friends) rolled sugar, pepper, and dried grass from her backyard in a sheet of loose leaf paper and offered it to me as a makeshift dooby, I’ve never been offered a smoke of anything, nor have I ever smoked anything. But just because I choose not to, doesn’t mean I’m completely against others choosing to.
There are medically legitimate reasons to take it. And it’s the most used recreational drug in the US. Nearly half of the US population has tried it at least once. With more and more states decriminalizing its use, medical marijuana going mainstream (heck, even Whoopi Goldberg has medical cannabis line of products for menstrual issues), and Well + Good dubbing cannabis as one of THE wellness trends to watch in 2017, I’m sure its use is only going to continue to increase.
Before we get started, remember I’m not here to pass a moral judgment, I just want to provide you with the info. That way you can make a decision that’s right for you, your health, and your fertility.
That being said, I would be an awful healthcare practitioner if I didn’t say, the American College of Gynecologists strongly encourages women to avoid taking or using marijuana in all it’s forms while TTC, pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let’s jump in and answer your questions about fertility and marijuana.
What’s the difference between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana?
Medical marijuana is cannabis dispensed from medical dispensaries at the recommendation of a physician. Different strains are grown and recommended based on their unique cannabinoid content.
Cannabinoids are the naturally occurring chemicals in cannabis. They’re what give marijuana its medicinal properties. They’re the reason cannabis can dampen inflammation, kill bacteria, mellow out a stressed out mind, and soothe anxiety.
Each strain of medical marijuana has a unique composition, a special medley of natural chemicals that affect different body systems in different ways. This makes each strain especially effective for specific concerns.
Medical marijuana is also significantly lower in THC, the cannabinoid which makes recreational marijuana so alluring. THC is what causes the high feeling recreational users seek. So, no, medical marijuana won’t get you high.
Recreational marijuana can legally be purchased or grown in a handful of states. In those states, there are recreational marijuana stores you can purchase weed from. In states where recreational use has not been legalized, many people still grow, sell, and buy marijuana, but they do so illegally.
Recreational marijuana’s THC levels are significantly higher than what you’ll find in medical varieties, giving them exaggerated psychoactive properties. Plus, if you purchase pot from any place other than a dispensary or store, you really can’t ensure purity. That’s because it’s pretty common for sellers to mix in additives. And those additives can have unpredictable and dangerous side effects.
What diseases and conditions are medical marijuana recommended for?
Every state which allows the medical use of marijuana has different qualifying conditions. Below, you’ll find a list of qualifying conditions from all the states with legislation allowing for the use of medical marijuana. For information about your specific state, click this link.