Can CBD Help You Get Pregnant?
Trying to start a family is a very delicate and sometimes stressful process. Can CBD help make it easier?
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been in the spotlight for relieving insomnia, treating chronic pain and even managing anxiety. The spotlight is well-deserved because there has been a lot of research on the benefits of the cannabinoid.
While more research must be done to draw any absolute conclusions about CBD’s effect on a couple getting and staying pregnant, there has been some research that shows that CBD may have a positive effect on fertility. But before we go into that, let's take a step back and look at the complications involved in fertility.
What is Infertility?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 10 percent of women in the U.S. ages 15-44 find it difficult to get pregnant and stay pregnant. The definition of infertility is commonly described as not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying for women under 35 years old or after six months of trying for women 35 years and older.
Pregnancy only occurs after a series of steps have been completed. For a woman to get pregnant, the following three things must happen:
- Ovulation: the woman’s body must release an egg from one of the ovaries.
- Fertilization: a man’s sperm must join with the egg to fertilize it as it travels towards the uterus.
- Implantation: the fertilized egg must implant into the uterine wall.
If there are problems with any of these steps, infertility may result.
Many issues can cause infertility in couples, so it's often hard to troubleshoot. The issue could stem from the woman or the man. In some cases, there are physical or medical issues that can cause couples to have a much harder time getting pregnant.
A few examples of male factor infertility include abnormal sperm concentration, movement or shape, hormonal disorders, and genetic disorders. A few things that may cause infertility in women include blocked fallopian tubes, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and low egg count.
Although some couples discover that they have decreased fertility due to certain physical issues, others may never discover cause. This leads healthy couples to experience what is called “unexplained infertility,” which is when there is no explanation for why the couple cannot get and/or stay pregnant.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of over one hundred cannabinoids derived from cannabis and has a chemical structure that your body’s natural endocannabinoid system recognizes. The compound can do a variety of things, including helping to reduce chronic pain, anxiety, and even persistent nausea.
Although CBD is often extracted from marijuana plants, it does not cause you to experience a “high” sensation. This head high is caused by a different compound found in marijuana called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). CBD is non-psychoactive and completely natural.
How Can CBD Improve Fertility?
CBD is not a cure for PCOS, abnormal sperm motility, or any other fertility issues. If you or your partner has a medical condition that interferes with your ability to have a baby, CBD may not remedy that issue.
Although more research must be done before any definitive statements can be made about CBD’s effect on fertility, some research suggests it helps promote fertility in a few different ways. This includes helping to reduce stress, aiding sperm in their journey to fertilize the egg, and stimulating ovulation.
CBD Reduces Stress
One of the most impactful ways that CBD may help to promote fertility is through its stress-relieving properties. CBD is known for providing relief from anxiety and stress due to the way that it interacts with the hormones in your body. It aids the endocannabinoid system in your body, activating serotonin and anandamide receptors to boost mood and increase relaxation.
A study published by the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that CBD significantly reduced anxiety levels. This was indicated by brain scans that showed changes in blood flow in the areas of the brain responsible for anxiety after CBD had been used.
Being stressed is often accompanied by physical symptoms, including:
- Sleeping problems
- Loss of sexual desire/ability
All of the above symptoms can be detrimental to your body if they persist for a long time. Lack of quality sleep and persistent headaches can impact your health and ultimately your fertility.
As CBD naturally helps users to feel calmer and more relaxed, it has been shown to help remedy most of those symptoms. By reducing stress in women, CBD may be able to increase their chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy.
Research has been done that demonstrates that excess stress can lead to additional pregnancy issues. Stress has an impact on the hormones in both men and women, and changes in those hormone levels may decrease sperm production and interfere with ovulation.
Also, some women who undergo abnormal amounts of stress may find that they experience irregular ovulation cycles, which can make it difficult to get pregnant.
One study stated that decreasing anxiety and depression may lead to significantly higher pregnancy rates. Although in their research the scientists used psychological interventions to reduce anxiety, since CBD also reduces stress, it may be another beneficial option to consider.
CBD May Help Sperm Fertilize the Egg
One study published in 2016 discovered interesting information regarding CBD and sperm cells. Sperm cells have cannabinoid receptors, and the study found that one of the receptors, GPR18, may be partly responsible for activating the sperm cell. This may mean that once CBD links to that receptor, it could help sperm cells travel to the egg and fertilize it more efficiently.
Because the mobility of the sperm cells is essential when trying to get pregnant, anything that can help them to travel faster and more effectively can have a positive impact on fertility.
CBD May Help Ovulation
Last, CBD may also help to promote ovulation. According to neuroscientist Dr. Michele Ross, one naturally-occurring endocannabinoid called anandamide may help support successful ovulation. Ross believes that anandamide levels can be boosted by taking CBD. When anandamide is increased in a woman’s body, successful ovulation is more likely to occur because that hormone is important for proper ovulation.
Even better, the boost in anandamide links to a decrease in stress and anxiety levels.
Important Note About CBD and Fertility
Although CBD may help to promote ovulation by increasing anandamide, there's a caveat. It is very important to note that studies have found that low levels of anandamide are required for proper embryo implantation. Because CBD often boosts anandamide levels, Dr. Michele Ross believes that CBD use after conception may interfere with embryo implantation.
This means that timing is very important. While CBD usage before ovulation is likely to help, CBD usage after ovulation may not be beneficial. It is best to speak to your doctor about your CBD usage to see what he or she believes is best for you during each stage of your fertility journey.
Research hasn’t been conducted on CBD’s impact on in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures, so it is advised that you ask your doctor about whether or not you should be taking CBD before and after the procedure. Also, not enough research has been done to determine whether CBD is safe to use during pregnancy.
The bottom line is this: more research needs to be done before we know exactly how CBD impacts fertility. There have been some studies, however, that point towards CBD being helpful in some aspects of getting pregnant, so if it's an option you're ready to consider, check out our line of legal, hemp-based CBD oils here.
Jessica has been a freelance writer for four years, with a passion for science and health-related topics. She is also a lover of doing research and genuinely enjoys reading clinical studies, especially if it has anything to do with the emerging research on the health benefits of CBD. Jessica has a degree in behavioral science. She is a travel addict and an avid League of Legends player. She is also a proud dog mom to a Husky and an Australian Shepherd, so she’s frequently covered in dog fur and utterly exhausted from their constant shenanigans.