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.
Lou Gehrig's Disease
Damage to nervous tissue
Sickle Cell Disease
Chronic inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
Spinal Cord Disease
Spinal Cord Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury
Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
Edibles vs inhalation vs vaporization, what's the difference?
When it comes to marijuana, people have gotten downright creative. The ways in which people use marijuana are darn near infinite. And each method affects your body in varying ways, to differing degrees.
Edibles take a longer time to have an effect than smoking or vaping. They're also said to leave folks with a calmer, more relaxed high. And because they take longer to have an effect, sometimes people will eat more than they should. That's when things can get scary.
Both vaping and edibles also deliver more THC than smoking. Smoking and vaping have a quicker effect, but smoking is thought to be more damaging to your lungs than vaping.
Marijuana is also tinctured, juiced, and applied topically.
What about Hemp?
We can't talk about marijuana without addressing hemp. Hemp and weed are the same genus and species but they have a different chemical composition.
Marijuana is much higher in THC than hemp. So hemp will not cause you to get high. And it shouldn't give you a false positive on a drug test.
Hemp seeds, milk, and flour are great sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals. All things that play a role in creating a healthy and happy body and mind.
What does the research say about women's health and marijuana?
Ovulation, the release of a mature egg from the ovaries, is a crucial step in conception. So anything that could disrupt normal ovulation isn't your friend when you're trying to conceive. Marijuana is one thing that can do just that.
In one study, women who reported smoking marijuana were more likely to have delayed ovulation or to not ovulate at all.
Marijuana's affect on fertility doesn't appear to be permanent. So just because you smoked back in high school, there's no reason to assume it will have an effect on your fertility now or in the future.
Way back in 1990, researchers discovered women who smoked marijuana were almost twice as likely to experience infertility than women who didn't. But the effect was only seen in women who had smoked within a year of trying. After the year mark, there wasn't a huge difference in risk of infertility between smokers and non-smokers.
Does marijuana negatively affect pregnancy or breastfeeding?
As you can imagine there aren't clinical trials to study how THC or marijuana affect pregnant women and the baby. It's not exactly ethical to inject pregnant women with THC or give them joints to smoke. No review board is going to approve that. But that doesn't mean we don't have some info about how marijuana seems to impact pregnancy.
When compared to women who don't report using marijuana, women who do smoke marijuana are more likely to:
give birth preterm
give birth to babies who are small for their age
give birth to babies with a low birth weight
have their babies admitted to the NICU
As for breastfeeding, we do know smoking marijuana lowers prolactin (the hormone that causes women to make breastmilk).
The Choice is Ultimately Yours
As with all herbs and herbal products, there are many things to weigh when considering cannabis. Federal and state laws, personal and spiritual views, occupational rules and regulations, the opinions and wishes of your family and health care providers, research findings, and your current health status and fertility goals are all things to think about. I hope the information I shared today helps you to make an informed decision.
If you'd like even more tidbits about the constantly evolving world of cannabis, head over to The Holistic Cannabis Network.
Don't forget to share this post with your friends, family, and health care providers.