CBD has been hailed as a remedy for health issues including pain, digestive issues, and insomnia. Could it be the answer to the common symptoms of pregnancy? Find out why this isn’t the case. The effects of cannabis use on male and female reproduction have been the focus of scientific research for decades. Although initial studies raised concerns, more recent studies were reassuring. Considering the recent legalization of recreational use of cannabis in Canada, we sought to analyze IVF outcomes among users and non-users in a single IVF center. This is a retrospective cohort study from a single IVF center assessing IVF outcomes among male-female, non-donor IVF patients that are either cannabis users or non-users. We analyzed the ongoing pregnancy rate as well as oocyte yield, fertilization rate, peak serum estradiol, sperm, and embryo quality. We used the Mann-Whitney test, chi-square test, and Kruskal-Wallis tests where appropriate. Overall, the study included 722 patients of which 68 (9.4%) were cannabis users, most defined as light users. The results of the study show similar implantation rate (40.74% vs. 41.13%) and ongoing pregnancy rate (35.2% vs. 29.1%) between the users and non-users, respectively. No significant difference between users and non-users in any of the other analyzed outcomes could be detected. The results may provide some reassurance for the lack of any demonstrable detrimental effects of cannabis consumption on IVF outcomes. This study was limited by its retrospective nature, self-reporting of cannabis use, and a small user sample size. A larger prospective study is needed to validate its findings. It is best to refrain from taking CBD while pregnant. Learn more about why you may want to hold off on taking CBD until after baby arrives.
CBD and Pregnancy: What You Should Know
If you’re having pregnancy symptoms, maybe you’ve wondered if CBD (cannabidiol) can bring you relief. CBD is a compound in marijuana and hemp that doesn’t get you high. And products with CBD in it are becoming more and more popular. Manufacturers use it in things like foods, drinks, beauty products, and supplements.
Some pregnant women consider using CBD for symptoms like:
or vomiting from morning sickness or stress
It’s a bad idea to take CBD for any of these reasons, though. The FDA urges women not to use cannabis or any type of CBD product while pregnant or breastfeeding. It could be dangerous for you and your baby.
Why It’s Risky
For one thing, we need a lot more research into the effects of CBD on pregnant mothers and unborn babies. Experts mainly have animal studies to go on. For instance, researchers who gave pregnant test animals high doses of CBD noticed problems in the reproductive systems of male fetuses. That doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing would happen in people, but the FDA says it’s concerned by the finding.
It’s also possible for CBD products to be contaminated with things that could be dangerous for a developing or nursing baby, like THC. That’s the chemical in cannabis that gets you high. Experts advise all women to avoid THC while pregnant and breastfeeding. It may affect a baby’s brain development in the womb. It can also raise the chances of stillbirth or premature birth. THC can pass to an infant through breast milk, and experts think this can happen with CBD as well.
The FDA has gotten reports of CBD products possibly being contaminated with other things, like:
- Heavy metals
What’s more, studies show that CBD poses risks for everyone, like liver damage and extreme sleepiness. It could also hurt your health by affecting medications you take.
Approved Uses for CBD
It has one approved medical use: a prescription drug that treats certain rare, severe types of seizure disorders in kids.
Otherwise, the FDA doesn’t review supplements like it does medications. So if you see a CBD pill, oil, capsule, or liquid with a package that makes health claims, be skeptical of its promises. And don’t take it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. If you’re having pregnancy symptoms, ask your doctor or OB-GYN for a safer treatment instead.
In general, don’t take a new supplement without talking to your doctor first. They can let you know whether it’s likely to be safe and effective for you.
FDA: “What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding,” “FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy.”
UCLA: “Looking for relief, pregnant women turn to marijuana despite medical advice.”
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Marijuana and Pregnancy.”
The relationship between cannabis use and IVF outcome—a cohort study
The effects of cannabis use on male and female reproduction have been the focus of scientific research for decades. Although initial studies raised concerns, more recent studies were reassuring. Considering the recent legalization of recreational use of cannabis in Canada, we sought to analyze IVF outcomes among users and non-users in a single IVF center.
This is a retrospective cohort study from a single IVF center assessing IVF outcomes among male-female, non-donor IVF patients that are either cannabis users or non-users. We analyzed the ongoing pregnancy rate as well as oocyte yield, fertilization rate, peak serum estradiol, sperm, and embryo quality. We used the Mann-Whitney test, chi-square test, and Kruskal-Wallis tests where appropriate.
Overall, the study included 722 patients of which 68 (9.4%) were cannabis users, most defined as light users. The results of the study show similar implantation rate (40.74% vs. 41.13%) and ongoing pregnancy rate (35.2% vs. 29.1%) between the users and non-users, respectively. No significant difference between users and non-users in any of the other analyzed outcomes could be detected.
The results may provide some reassurance for the lack of any demonstrable detrimental effects of cannabis consumption on IVF outcomes. This study was limited by its retrospective nature, self-reporting of cannabis use, and a small user sample size. A larger prospective study is needed to validate its findings.
Cannabis is the most used recreational drug worldwide (Maccarrone et al. 2021). Recently, its use has become even more widespread with the legalization of its medical and recreational consumption (Bayrampour and Asim 2021). The use of cannabis for recreational use is especially popular amongst men and women in the reproductive age (Volkow et al. 2019; Skelton, Hecht, and Benjamin-Neelon 2020; Beyer et al., 2019). Knowledge on the impact of cannabinoids on fertility is limited and often contradicting.
Pre-clinical studies in a rodent model have shown inhibition of spermatogenesis and decreased fertilization (Nahas et al. 2002; Dalterio et al. 1982). Furthermore, early human studies on the effects of both acute and chronic exposures to cannabis reported on concerning findings including a detrimental effect on spermatogenesis and sperm function as well as erectile dysfunction and testicular cancer (Rajanahally et al. 2019) (Schuel et al. 1994; Amoako et al. 2013; Schuel et al. 1987; Hong et al. 1982; Whan et al. 2006; Chang et al. 1993; Rossato et al. 2005).
These concerns were augmented by molecular studies showing a ubiquitous spread of the cannabinoid receptors in both male and female reproductive systems (Amoako et al. 2013; Chang et al. 1993; Rossato et al. 2005). However, while older studies of different designs expressed an almost unanimous concern over adverse effects of cannabis use to both male and female reproductive outcomes, more recent studies are challenging this paradigm by showing a similar reproductive outcome for cannabis users of both genders (Kasman et al. 2018).
As data on the effects of cannabis exposure on male and female fertility as well as information on the effects on IVF outcome is contradicting, there is no clear answer to whether the current use of cannabis in either men or women affects their reproductive function.
Since the legalization of recreational cannabis use in Canada and large parts of the USA has resulted in increased access and popularity of its use, we sought to examine whether there is a difference in IVF outcome between all cannabis users and non-users in a single IVF clinic.
The aim of this single clinic-based cohort retrospective study is to compare the outcome of IVF treatment among cannabis users vs. non-users. The main outcome measure we choose was the ongoing pregnancy rate. Secondary outcomes are detailed in the “Methods” section.
The study was approved by the McMaster University (Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board)—project #5024.
The study is a retrospective cohort study that included all patients that completed oocyte retrieval and embryo transfer at the ANOVA IVF center since its initiation in September 2016 and until September 2019. To be eligible, charts had to contain information on cannabis use status.
Patients referred to the ANOVA IVF center are routinely asked during the initial visit to fill a questionnaire that includes questions on the use of recreational drugs including the type and frequency for both partners. Since we intended to assess the effects of cannabis use on male and female reproduction, we did not include same-sex couples, couples using donor oocytes or donor sperm, and couples using a gestational carrier. Based on the information provided on the use of cannabis by each couple, they were allocated to a group of non-users or users. We also did a subgroup analysis based on the identity of the user: female, male, or both. For the main outcome measure, we had also analyzed the intensity of cannabis use (light—up to 3 times a week; heavy—more than 3 times a week).
Charts for all eligible patients for screening for the following outcomes:
Ongoing pregnancy rate (percentage of cycles that resulted in a pregnancy that was still ongoing at the time of patient discharge from the clinic by the end of the first trimester) and implantation rate (the number of intrauterine gestational sacs divided by the number of embryos that were transferred to the uterus)—primary outcome.
Oocyte (mature) yield—the number of oocyte (mature) yield—the percentage of oocytes (total or mature) aspirated from the total number of mature ovarian follicles (14–25 mm in diameter) as measured on the day in which ovulation was triggered.
Peak serum estradiol.
Fertilization rate—the percentage of oocytes that were fertilized out of all oocytes that were inseminated. This rate was divided into fertilization rate with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) vs. standard insemination.
Sperm quality (normal/fair/poor)—based on the index detailed below.
Blastocyst formation rate—the percentage of embryos that developed into a blastocyst out of all fertilized oocytes (zygotes).
High-quality blastocyst rate (number of blastocysts graded 3–6 AA/AB/BA out of all normally fertilized zygotes (2PN))—this rate reflects the development of top-quality embryos after 5–6 days in culture according to the Schoolcraft-Gardiner grading system out of the total number of normally fertilized oocytes (Gardner and Schoolcraft 1998).
We had also reviewed the embryology reports for any written comments on any unusual features observed by the embryologist during oocyte, sperm, or embryo examination.
For the analysis of sperm quality, we employed the following grading system that defined the sperm as being either normal, fair, or poor based on the following criteria:
|Sperm concentration:||Total motility:||Normal form:|
|1: < 15 M/ml||1: < 30%||1: < 4%|
|2: 15–25 M/ml||2: 30–50%||2: 4–10%|
|3: > 25 M/ml||3: > 50%||3: > 10%|
Scores from all three categories were summed. Sperm was regarded as poor, fair, or normal if the total score was 1–3, 4–6, or 7–9, respectively.
The data was tested for normality of distribution using the Anderson-Darling test, the D’Agostino, Pearson test, and the Shapiro-Wilk test.
As the data was not found to be normally distributed, we used a non-parametric test (Mann-Whitney test) for all continuous parameters combined. Categorical variables were analyzed with the chi-square test.
We used the Kruskal-Wallis test for comparison between multiple groups for the subgroup analysis.
A power analysis was done using the G*Power software version 184.108.40.206 (Axel Buchner – University of Dusseldorf, Edgar Erdfelder – University of Mannheim, Franz Faul – University of Kiel, and Albert-Georg Lang – University of Dusseldorf). According to the following parameters: Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test (two groups) one tail, effect size 0.5, an err probability of 0.05, power 0.95, and allocation ratio N2/N1 1, the calculated sample size was 92 in each arm.
The statistical analysis was performed using GraphPad Prism version 9.0.1 for Windows, GraphPad Software, San Diego, CA, USA, www.graphpad.com.
The study population consisted of 722 patients that completed oocyte retrieval and embryo transfer at the ANOVA IVF center. Of these patients, there were 654 non-users (study group 1) and 68 (9.4%) couples in which either the patient, partner, or both reported on cannabis use (study groups 2–9). In most user couples, either the female or male partners were cannabis users (57%), and in most couples, the level of use of either partner or both was defined as mild (65%). There were 15 couples in which the female partner was a cannabis user, forty couples in which the male partner was a cannabis user, and 13 couples in which both partners were using cannabis. Due to the small numbers of patients included in the user subgroups, we conducted the comparison with all users pulled into one group as well as a subgroup analysis according to the identity of the user. Patient demographics are described in Table 1: The median patient age of users was significantly younger than non-users (34 ± 4.1 vs. 36 ± 4.4; P value = 0.012); however, ovarian reserve for the two groups as estimated by serum anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) was similar (user group 16.5 ± 14.2 pmol/L vs. non-user group 15.5 ± 22.6 pmol/L; P value 0.90).
Table 1 Baseline demographic characteristics of 722 couples seeking IVF: median, standard deviation, missing data (MD), P value describing the difference between cannabis users and non-users including a subgroup analysis of the user group according to the identity of the user (female partner, male partner, or both). The data relates to the patient’s age and serum anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) that represents the ovarian reserve at the time the IVF treatment was conducted
Reproductive outcomes compared between cannabis users and non-users included several parameters that are detailed in Tables 2 and 3. The outcome parameters that represent the response of the ovaries to ovarian stimulation that were analyzed included the number of mature follicles (> 15 mm), peak serum estradiol, and the number of oocytes. These were shown to be similar between users and non-users. Parameters that represent the response of the ovary to the hCG trigger: the number of mature oocytes (MII), oocyte yield (number of oocytes divided by the number of mature follicles), and mature oocyte yield (number of mature oocytes out the number of mature follicles), were also found to be similar between the groups. We had also examined the potential effects of cannabis use on sperm quality looking at the volume of the semen, sperm progressive motility, and a composite index described earlier, grading sperm concentration, motility, and morphology. There were no significant differences in any of the sperm parameters between the group of users and non-users. We analyzed the parameters that relate to the process of fertilization including oocyte fertilization by standard IVF (co-incubation of sperm and oocytes) or via injection of a single sperm into the cytoplasm of the oocyte (ICSI). We were not able to detect any significant differences in these parameters between users and non-users. We went on to analyze the outcome parameters that represent early embryonic development. We calculated the percentage of embryos that developed into a blastocyst (the stage of embryo development that precedes implantation achieved typically on days 5–6 of embryo culture). We also compared the rate of top-quality blastocyst development between the two groups. Neither one of the early embryonic development parameters differed between the groups.
Table 2 IVF treatment characteristics of 722 IVF patients divided based on the level of cannabis use—mean, median, standard deviation, missing data, P value, and test used to compare the difference between cannabis users and non-users including a subgroup analysis of the user group according to the identity of the user (female partner, male partner, or both). Abbreviations: MII meiosis two oocyte-mature oocytes, 2PN 2 pronuclei oocyte/zygote/normally fertilized oocyte, ICSI intracytoplasmic sperm injection (a method for oocyte fertilization with a single sperm injected into its cytoplasm), IVF in vitro fertilization with insemination of oocytes with exposure to motile sperm as opposed to ICSI, Blsts blastocysts (the pre-implantation stage of embryo development), HQ high-quality. The left columns describe the comparison of users and non-users, and the columns on the right describe the comparison of users based on the gender of the user
Table 3 Treatment outcome for 722 IVF patients based on the level of cannabis use: implantation rate (IR) and ongoing pregnancy rate (OPR) among the different study groups as well as combining all users. The symbols in the first two rows define the level of use for the two partners: 0, no use; +, light use; ++, heavy use
The subgroup analysis according to the identity of the user (female, male, or both) showed no significant differences other than in sperm volume that was highest in the group in which both partners were cannabis users and in the sperm quality that was defined as highest with the male partner consuming cannabis. With regard to the primary outcome measures, implantation, and ongoing pregnancy rates, we did study the differences in the user vs. non-user groups as well as in the user subgroups (Table 3). The implantation rate (IR) per transfer for the non-user group was 41.1% and 40.7% for the users. The ongoing pregnancy (OPR) per cycle start rate was 29.1% for non-users and 35.2% for the users. The difference between the users and non-users for both the IR and OPR as well as the difference between the subgroups of users was not statistically different.
Analysis of the written comments made by embryologists analyzing the sperm, oocytes, and embryos of all the patients included in the study showed no remarkable differences between users and non-users.
The study presented in this paper is a retrospective cohort study that assessed multiple male and female reproductive outcome measures among all couples completing oocyte retrieval in one IVF center. As the data was collected during years in which the recreational use of cannabis was considered both legally and socially acceptable, patients faced fewer barriers to voluntarily disclose using cannabis. The prevalence of cannabis users in our study (9.4%), male users (7.3%), and female users (4%) was lower than previously reported among couples trying to conceive (Kasman et al. 2018); however, this study included only infertile patients that may be less likely to engage in a potentially unhealthy lifestyle. This rate of cannabis use is similar to the rate reported by a recent Canadian survey (Keethakumar et al. 2021).
All the reproductive outcomes of cannabis users and non-users in our study were comparable. These parameters included measures of ovarian response, sperm quality, efficiency of fertilization, early embryonic development, and implantation. In fact, the ongoing pregnancy rate per cycle start trended higher for the group of cannabis users (35.2% vs. 29.1%). This could partially relate to the female participants in the user group being younger than the non-user counterparts.
The use of cannabis is growing rapidly and gaining widespread legal and social acceptance, while the consumption of tobacco is on a continuous decline because of health concerns, legislation, and social trends (Gagne 2017). According to the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey sponsored by Health Canada, 41.5% of Canadians aged 15 years and older have used cannabis in their lifetime and 10.2% have used cannabis in the past year alone (Porath et al., 2019). In Canada, the use of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational uses was legalized in October 2018. The legalization of cannabis is leading to an inevitable increase in its popularity especially among men and women of reproductive age. A similar trend was also evidenced among couples trying to conceive and pregnant women (Volkow et al. 2019). A recent study compared the preconception, prenatal, and post-natal prevalence use of cannabis in states that legalized recreational cannabis use versus states that did not (Skelton, Hecht, and Benjamin-Neelon 2020). The survey showed women residing in states that legalized recreational cannabis were significantly more likely to use it before and during pregnancy.
Furthermore, the widespread consumption of cannabis among males in the reproductive age raised health concerns.
The increase in the use of cannabis took place despite concerning reports from both animal and human studies associating chronic exposure to inhaled or injected cannabis with sperm abnormalities as well as the development of testicular lesions. Injection of the cannabis-derived tetra-hydro-cannabinol (THC)—the active component of cannabis—to mice was associated with the arrest of spermatogenesis (Dalterio et al. 1982; Nahas et al. 2002).
These reports followed earlier publications reporting that either in vitro or in vivo acute exposure of spermatozoa in a number of species, including humans, to several types of cannabinoids led to a reduced fertilization rate. This finding was attributed to the inhibition of the acrosome reaction as well as decreased sperm motility (Schuel et al. 1994; Amoako et al. 2013; Schuel et al. 1987; Hong et al. 1982; Whan et al. 2006; Chang et al. 1993; Rossato et al. 2005).
A large human cohort study found that a routine use of cannabis at a rate of twice a week or more was associated with a 30% reduction in sperm concentration (Gundersen et al. 2015). This rate was similar to the rate of cannabis use reported by most of the cannabis users in our study.
A recently published systematic review summarized all the in vivo and in vitro studies that assessed the effect of cannabis exposure on male infertility. The authors concluded that the use of cannabis may be associated with a reduction in sperm quality, erectile dysfunction, and testicular cancer (Rajanahally et al. 2019).
In contrast, Kasman et al. who surveyed the association between male and female cannabis use and time to pregnancy among 758 males and 1076 females that were actively trying to conceive between the years 2002 and 2015 were not able to detect any difference in the length of the time to pregnancy between either male or female cannabis users and non-users regardless of the frequency of use (Kasman et al. 2018).
In our study, we were not able to detect any differences in sperm quality parameters between cannabis users and non-users. Interestingly, sperm in the groups of male cannabis users showed the highest semen volume and the best sperm quality. A similar finding was reported by Nassan et al., in a recent report (Nassan et al., 2019a, b).
The effects of cannabis exposure on in vitro fertilization outcomes were assessed in several studies. These studies demonstrated that cannabis use is associated with a lower yield of harvested oocytes during in vitro fertilization. Furthermore, the addition of synthetic (CP 55940, WIN 55212–2), natural (THC), or endogenous (AEA and 2-AG) cannabinoids to embryo culture media resulted in arrested development of two-cell embryos as well as reduction of the number of trophectoderm cells in those blastocysts that were able to escape the developmental arrest. (Wang, Dey, and Maccarrone 2006).
A more recent study that examined the chronic exposure of male mice to THC via intraperitoneal (IP) injections that began at puberty and continued for 1 month found that despite a remarkably high testicular THC concentration, there was no significant difference in testicular size, rate of spermatogenesis, apoptosis, sperm concentration, and motility. They also compared the outcome of IVF using sperm from mice treated with THC vs. control and found no difference in the rate of fertilization and blastocyst formation (Lopez-Cardona et al. 2018). A recent study by Nassan et al. reported that couples undergoing IVF treatment in which the male partner was a current cannabis user had a significantly higher adjusted probability for a live birth (Nassan et al., 2019a, b).
The results of this study are in line with the newer studies suggesting that the use of cannabis is not associated with a compromised outcome for couples undergoing IVF. There may be several explanations for the discrepancy between the results of the newer studies on the effects of cannabis consumption on reproductive health, including this study, and the older ones. Studies that were done before the legalization of cannabis involved consumers of an illegal substance produced in a non-regulated process. Moreover, it was shown that individuals that consume illicit drugs are more likely to engage in other unhealthy behaviors (Keethakumar et al. 2021).
Strengths and limitations of the study
This is a cohort study that compared the outcome of IVF treatments of patients originating from a single IVF clinic treated by the same clinical staff and embryology lab. The data is recent, therefore reflecting current IVF success rates. To our knowledge, this is the first study that was done after the legalization of recreational cannabis use and therefore may provide a more realistic prevalence of cannabis use among patients. One limitation of this study is that it is a retrospective study, relying on patients voluntarily reporting their cannabis use and frequency of use. This means that a portion of patients classified as “non-users” could have potentially been cannabis users, thus impacting the results of the study. Also, we did not include information on other lifestyle confounders such as tobacco use, although the rate of daily tobacco use in Canada for the duration of the study was less than 10%. Also, we were not able to record data on cannabis use during pregnancy for participants in the study. Furthermore, as our cohort included 654 non-users and 68 users, our sample was underpowered on the users’ arm.
Our study did not show any detrimental impact of current cannabis use on any of the measured IVF outcomes. These results should be validated by a larger prospective study.
Can I Use CBD While Pregnant?
Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families. She has written for well-known sites including POPSUGAR Family and Scary Mommy, among others.
Verywell Family articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and family healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Andrea Chisolm, MD, is a board-certified OB/GYN who has taught at both Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. She has over 20 years of clinical experience and is currently is in practice at Cody Regional Health in Cody, Wyoming.
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Pregnancy comes with a slew of unpleasant side effects, like extreme nausea or persistent backaches, but many common medications are no longer safe once you have a baby on the way. If you’re on the hunt for something natural to cure your morning sickness, a strained lower back, or even pregnancy-related anxiety, you may start to wonder about CBD.
As wonderful as this substance may seem, it is not safe to use during pregnancy. Although there isn’t enough research yet to say for sure what could go wrong, there are a few potential concerns to know about. And until we know more, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid CBD while pregnant.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a component of the cannabis plant. CBD has many therapeutic benefits, such as helping to alleviate chronic pain, anxiety, and depression, insomnia, and nausea and vomiting. There are a few choices for how to take CBD, including topicals, gum, sublingual drops, and gel caps.
CBD won’t make you stoned, though. Unlike Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another well-known component of the cannabis plant, CBD does not intoxicate. Many people prefer to use CBD because it gives them the benefits of cannabis without the associated “high.” In general, you can get CBD anywhere in the country, since it’s federally legal.
Is It Safe to Use CBD During Pregnancy?
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) says it “strongly advises against” taking CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding. You should avoid CBD during pregnancy, largely because its effects on a developing fetus are simply unknown. We do know that THC can enter a developing baby’s brain, so there is reason to believe CBD may be able to as well.
“There is the potential risk that [CBD] could affect embryo implantation and promote miscarriages,” cautions Felice Gersh, MD, a California-based OB/GYN and award-winning author of two books on fertility and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
The FDA is still collecting data on the exact risks of taking CBD during pregnancy, but until we hear any different, you should not consider CBD as a safe option when you are expecting.
Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking CBD while pregnant.
What If I Use CBD Before Realizing I’m Pregnant?
If you regularly use CBD, or you just happened to try it out before you got that positive pregnancy test, don’t panic. According to Marco Mouanness, MD, an OB/GYN and fertility expert at the Rejuvenating Fertility Center in New York City, you are probably fine. Along with discontinuing your CBD use, he advises reaching out to your OB/GYN so they can monitor you as necessary.
Since we really don’t know enough about CBD’s effects on pregnancy and a developing fetus, we have to rely on what we know about THC, since they are both cannabis components. Animal studies show a connection between THC and early miscarriage, but Dr. Mouanness points out that if you get a positive pregnancy test, you haven’t miscarried. As long as you stop using CBD right away, the earlier CBD use won’t cause miscarriage.
In some cases, your OB/GYN may prescribe progesterone to offset any potential miscarriage risk, notes Dr. Gersh. “Taking supplemental progesterone may provide some protection from the effects of CBD exposure early in pregnancy. [as it] sometimes helps prevent miscarriage.”
CBD is not safe to take during pregnancy. There are a few potential risks to know about.
Potential Risk of Miscarriage
Animal studies have found a link between CBD use and early miscarriage. While animal studies do not directly translate to humans, you may want to stop taking CBD as a precaution if you are actively trying to conceive.
Potential Reproductive Harm
Another animal study linked CBD use in pregnancy with lower sperm production in male offspring. So, if you give birth to a boy, there could be a risk to his future reproductive health. Again, results from animal studies do not always carry over to humans. However, it is best to play it safe.
Worsening of Pregnancy-Related Side Effects
Many people like CBD because of its minimal side effects. However, some people experience tiredness or diarrhea when using CBD. These side effects could negatively affect your pregnancy. No one wants to be even more tired than pregnancy already makes a person, and diarrhea may lead to dehydration—a dangerous state when pregnant.
When Can I Resume Using CBD?
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you should continue to hold off on CBD use. “CBD. will cross into the breast milk and go to the baby,” warns Dr. Gersh.
There is some evidence that CBD in breastmilk may negatively affect infant motor development. And since it stays in your milk for a while, this isn’t something you can “pump and dump.” “Some studies have shown that CBD oil derivatives can be found in breastmilk for up to six days after use,” Dr. Mouanness points out.
Once you have fully weaned your baby from the breast, it is safe to start using CBD again. At this point, there is no longer any risk to your child. There are pros and cons to taking CBD, but those are up to you to discuss with a doctor once you’re no longer sustaining your child with your body.
Pregnancy Safe Alternatives
If you are seeking relief from certain pregnancy symptoms, there are a few natural remedies that may help.
Ginger is an ancient remedy proven to help with nausea and vomiting. Dr. Gersh notes that you can consume ginger in any of its forms, including candied, pickled, or as a tea, to get the positive effects.
If you can’t get the sleep you need, magnesium, an essential vitamin, may help. Magnesium has a calming effect when taken regularly, which, along with promoting good sleep, may help combat anxiety and depression. Taking a magnesium supplement blocks pain receptors, so it may also decrease headaches and other aches and pains.
Dr. Mouanness notes that vitamin B can significantly reduce pregnancy-induced nausea. However, he also points out that you should not take any more vitamin B than the amount already included in your prenatal vitamins unless directed to by a doctor, since we don’t know enough about its effects on a developing fetus.
Be sure to consult with a healthcare provide before starting any new supplements or medications.
A Word From Verywell
CBD has many benefits, but the possible risks to a developing fetus make it unsafe to use during pregnancy. Miscarriage and effects on future fertility or infant motor development are possibly related to its use, and until we learn more, the risk is not worth it.
That doesn’t mean you have to suffer through uncomfortable or unbearable pregnancy side effects, though. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an OB/GYN, midwife, or healthcare provider for ideas on how to safely treat your symptoms.
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