Hey, it's 4/20! Let's talk about CBD and fertility!

Have you been known to enjoy a CBD latte on occasion? How about a delicious brownie with a few milligrams of CBD in it? CBD has a number of medical and therapeutic properties, but we often hear the question, "Can it impact my fertility?" We're going to give you the lowdown.

CBD 101

Before you set out down the Google wormhole, CBD stands for cannabidiol, a naturally occurring chemical in the marijuana plant. There's no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in CBD — that's the component in marijuana that gets you high. You can't get addicted to CBD, although you should know it's not always clear how much CBD is in a product, or whether or not those products also contain traces of THC. CBD is available in many places in the US, usually in the form of an oil capsule, an extract, or a vapor, but its legality is constantly in question.

In addition to addressing anxiety and other related conditions, including PTSD and Seasonal Affective Disorder, CBD has also been shown to be effective in treating Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, two childhood epilepsy syndromes, which typically don't respond well to anti-epilepsy drugs. Epidiolex, an FDA-approved medication for these conditions, contains CBD. CBD might also be good for relieving chronic pain, but more studies need to be done to verify this and to know which doses might work for certain syndromes.

CBD does have some side effects. It can make you nauseous, irritable, and tired, and also result in dry mouth, diarrhea, and it can also interact with some medications, so you should talk to your doctor if you're planning on using CBD.

What about fertility?

Smoking is a no-no if you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant, and we don't know a ton about vaping's impact on fertility, but it doesn't look good, especially when it comes to how it affects sperm. The American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (ACOG) suggests that pregnant people avoid smoking marijuana (it can result in low birth weight or stillbirth,and impede fetal brain development), but we're also lacking conclusive information on whether or not you should smoke it if you're considering getting pregnant in the future.

But CBD? According to Angela Gilliam, Community Manager at Verified CBD, "CBD oil has shown some promising benefits in terms of fertility in both genders." CBD activates your body's endocannabinoid system, a biological system composed of endocannabinoids, neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors. The system regulates processes like fertility and pregnancy, as well as post- and prenatal development. A 2012 study also linked the endocannabinoid system with increased female sexual arousal.

Cannabinoid receptors have been detected in sperm, and one in particular, GPR18, has been found to activate sperm cells, which seems to improve the sperm's ability to fertilize an egg. There are also endocannabinoids in the female reproductive tract, which suggests that they could play a favorable role in ovarian function and might help regulate follicle maturation, an important aspect of fertility.

The bottom line

So how should you think about CBD and fertility? You probably know what we're going to say — it's complicated. Data suggests that the endocannabinoid system is intimately connected with the female reproductive system, and a 2019 study confirms that the system plays a role in the progression of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), but overall, we still don't know a ton about the impact of CBD on fertility, so you might want to steer clear of it if you're thinking about trying to get pregnant in the near future.

Right now, though, the Modern Fertility test is here to give you information on your hormones and what they might look like as you get older, so you can get a sense of what could happen to your fertility later in life and think about how to strategize. We'll also give you tips on how to talk with your doctor and your partner, and give you access to a community of other people looking to know and understand their bodies and their futures.

Chanel Dubofsky

Chanel's writing has appeared in Cosmo, Rewire, Lilith, HelloFlo, & Extra Crispy. She has an MFA in Fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts & lives in New York. Follow her @chaneldubofsky.

Fertility Unfiltered