With the abundance of cannabis dispensaries available to us today, and the multitude of issues and symptoms that claim to be eased and solved with cannabis, one can easily be led to think this is a harmless addition to your daily or weekly routine.
In a time where there is mass information and conflicting data on the use of cannabis, it is important to truly discover if this is the right fit for you, especially when it comes to your reproductive health and fertility goals.
If you spend 10 minutes driving in condensed living areas in Vancouver, you have undoubtedly seen at least a handful of marijuana dispensaries and advertisements. Cannabis use is becoming legalized, wide spread, easily accessible and has entered the health and well-being industry in a variety of forms with many applications for well-being, whether medical or recreational. With such a commonplace feel for cannabis, it can be hard to understand if it is really a good fit for you. This becomes especially important if you are in the stage of life where you are actively trying to conceive.
I’m going to explore with you and analyze cannabis in the context of female fertility and the female reproductive system. When referring to cannabis in this discussion I am including both THC and CBD and not drawing a distinction between the two, albeit there are credible distinctions. To date not enough studies have clearly shown the effects of CBD although with more widespread use, studies are sure to increase and become more available for future discussion.
How does cannabis physically affect the body?
Our bodies have something called the endocannabinoid system. This is a system in the human body which binds cannabinoid molecules, which our own bodies produce and is a widely distributed system throughout our bodies. The bodies own internal cannabinoid system affects many things, like stress, sleep, memory, and hormones, to name a few. When people take cannabis, there are receptors within the human body that it binds to, which do a wide variety of actions, leading to both positive or negative effects that occur when using creams, vapes, oils, edibles and traditional smoking of cannabis.
How does cannabis affect the female reproductive system?
Our bodies are a complex system of checks and balances and the intricate process of our systems can be directly affected by what we put into our bodies. The mechanism which cannabis disrupts in the female reproductive cycle involves the HPO Axis, the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. The HPO axis regulates female reproduction and is a feedback mechanism.
Many studies have described the correlative the effect of cannabis use on Luteinizing Hormone (LH) secretion, which is required during two stages in the female menstrual cycle. First, LH is required to stimulate ovarian follicles in the ovaries to produce the female hormone estradiol (estrogen) and secondly, LH is required to trigger ovulation and development of the corpus luteum. Cannabis has been found to suppress the release of LH, which is essential for a functioning fertile female.
Other studies have found that THC can suppresses the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) from the hypothalamus, preventing these hormones from stimulating the release of prolactin and gonadotropins, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), from the anterior pituitary. The gonadotropins maintain the menstrual cycle by promoting ovarian follicle maturation, stimulating production of the ovarian steroids estradiol and progesterone, and inducing ovulation, and alterations in circulating gonadotropin can disrupt these processes.
Reference: Marijuana, The Endocannabinoid System and the Female Reproductive System
What if cannabis is used solely for heightening your sexual experience?
You may have experienced this and some studies also cite that cannabis can heighten pleasure during sex or can bridge sexual issues in the bedroom. This is fantastic and no doubt a great benefit to some couples! However, prolonged use needs to be considered. When taking a point of view through the lens of Chinese Medicine, moderation and balance are key. If you feel you are consuming or using products to enhance your sexual experience more than you would like, please speak to your practitioner at Yinstill, as we have a variety of solutions and ideas to heighten or re-connect your sexual experiences!
What are the options to decrease the use of cannabis?
This is a great question, and one that we increasingly get asked. There is no ‘one fits all’ solution to this question and here are a few starter options:
- Regular acupuncture and Chinese medicine can successfully deal with the symptoms that cannabis users are using it for, including but not limited to; pain, anxiety, headaches, sleep, sexual inhibition or function.
- Nutritional guidance and supplements. Our in-house Naturopath, Dr. Marni Ross can help assess what the next fit is for you.
- Exercise…More exercise! Strengthening your cardiovascular system and circulation is important for your general health and especially when trying to conceive. Introducing a new exercise regime will improve fertility, your quality of life and emotional wellbeing.
- Counselling or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) Cognitive behavioral therapy can help people to identify, address and transform thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that relate to behavioral and emotional reactions that may cause difficulty in an individual’s life.
In Chinese medicine moderation and balance in life activities, diet, exercise and things that we do in life for joy, leisure, or medical purposes all need to be investigated or considered when trying to create new life and a successful, healthy pregnancy.
Please speak to your practitioner or reach out to us if you feel you need more guidance in discovering if cannabis is the right fit for you during this time.
Lara Tissuer is one of Yinstill’s leading fertility based TCM practitioners. To have a consult with her please get in contact today.