Slower Swimmers and Missed Cycles: How Marijuana affects Fertility


With legalization of marijuana becoming more widespread across North America, more patients are asking about the impacts of marijuana use on fertility. Here is the scoop.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive component in cannabis and is the key player in interfering with the normal hormone cascade. The active metabolites are stored in body fat, which is why it can take up to 2-4 weeks for it to leave the body system. THC interferes with the normal hormone cascade. In both men and women, THC suppresses a hormone called GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) that controls the levels of sex hormones – LH, FSH, prolactin and testosterone.


In men, the resulting low testosterone leads to fewer sperm being made, low sex drive and can cause erectile dysfunction. Sperm are more likely to have structural abnormalities, a decreased ability to move, as well as reduced ability to fuse with and penetrate the egg. This means fewer sperm are made, they’re slower, not the right size or shape, and unable to fertilize the egg.

In women, FSH and LH maintain the menstrual cycle along with estrogen and progesterone. Because the hormones influence one another, when FSH and LH are suppressed it throws the rest of the hormones off balance leading to menstrual disturbances, and suppressing egg development. This means periods and fertile windows are not as easily predicted, and eggs are not as healthy and robust.

So there you have it. Avoiding marijuana use is the official recommendation for couples looking to get pregnant.



Written by: Faaria Karim ND USA (BC license pending)


References:

Lisa K Brents. Yale J Biol Med. 2016 Jun; 89(2): 175-191

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4918871/

Alvarez, S Fertil Steril. 2015 Jan;103(1):22-6

https://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282(14)02354-1/pdf

Metz TD et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2017 Oct;217(4):478.e1-478.e8

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28578174