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Ovulation is an important phase in one’s menstrual cycle and plays a key role in the reproductive health of people with ovaries — especially for those who want to get pregnant.
If you’re tracking your ovulation and are looking to learn more about what may help or hinder your overall fertility, you may be wondering if the use of cannabis impacts when (or if) you ovulate.
The most recent science tells us that cannabis use leads to less frequent ovulation, delayed cycles, or even a temporary cessation of ovulation.
Read on to learn more about what the current — if lacking — research tells us about marijuana’s impact on ovulation and female fertility.
How Marijuana Use Impacts Ovulation
When it comes to marijuana’s effects on ovulation, hormones seem to play a significant role.
A study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2021 found that prospective mothers who used cannabis in the weeks before conception were 40% less likely to conceive within a monthly cycle than women who didn’t use cannabis.
After analyzing the participants’ blood samples, the researchers discovered that those who used cannabis had higher levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), the hormone responsible for triggering ovulation.
While this may sound like a good thing (if you have more LH, you have more opportunities to ovulate, right?), it’s actually detrimental. Due to this rise in LH, the study’s participants had a higher LH ratio than follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). FSH is responsible for stimulating your ovaries to produce eggs.
If your body has a high LH to FSH ratio, it can’t take the time needed to make a mature egg that is ready to be fertilized by sperm; thus causing your ovulation phase to be delayed or skipped altogether.
Another study in 2019 found that in approximately 200 women, ovulation was delayed by up to 3.5 days in women who smoked cannabis at least once daily in the preceding three months. Again, the study determined that this delay was due to THC’s effects on the reproductive hormones involved in the ovulation cycle.
While current research is inconsistent and lacking, these findings urge further investigation into the suggested evidence of THC’s ability to disrupt reproductive hormone levels.
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Does Ingestion Method Matter?
To date, no study examines how varying consumption methods (edibles, topicals, etc.) affect the female ovulation cycle. The presence of THC in the body, regardless of how it was ingested, is the primary factor involved with cannabis’ impact on ovulation.
One study did look at the smoking habits of soon-to-be fathers and found that couples with male partners that smoke marijuana more than once a week were more likely to miscarry than couples with male partners who are not marijuana smokers. However, this may have less to do with the ingestion method than how male reproductive hormones respond to cannabis.
Other Ways Cannabis Can Affect Female Fertility
Aside from its impact on the ovulation cycle, marijuana use may negatively impact fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization. One study reported that former marijuana users had 25% fewer egg retrieval successes and 28% fewer successfully fertilized eggs. THC may also cross the placenta during pregnancy, and it’s found in breast milk, leading to some concern about marijuana’s ability to harm the developing fetus and child.
While much more research is needed, most doctors recommend avoiding cannabis use if you’re trying to conceive and opting for alternative relaxation or pain relief methods, such as warm baths or gentle exercise.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to note that the few findings on marijuana and ovulation are small and not randomized. More research is needed to understand how cannabis use impacts ovulation and fertility, and patients should interpret the existing findings with caution. It’s essential to discuss cannabis use and ovulation with your doctor if you have any concerns.
Cannabis can have many wonderful uses and can help people in various ways. If you’re not currently pregnant or looking to conceive, apply for a medical marijuana card in your home state. Leafwell’s virtual clinic is open and here to serve you with valuable guidance as you move through the application process.
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