Can CBD Help Boost Fertility, and if So, How?
- Infertility is a common problem with men and women in the US. Around 6% to 12% of coupled women aged 15 to 44 have difficulty carrying pregnancy(1). About 8% of the male population also experience the same condition.
- CBD has anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties that may help with issues linked to the female reproductive system(2).
- However, CBD may bring negative effects to the male reproductive system(3). These effects include changes in sexual behavior, reduced testosterone levels, and decreased fertilization rates.
- Taking alternative treatments, like CBD, should be prescribed by an obstetrician-gynecologist before administration.
Why People Are Taking CBD for Fertility
Fertility is the reproductive capability of a person. The current fertility rate in the US is 1.77 births per woman(4). Infertility is a common problem with men and women in the US.
Approximately 6% to 12% of coupled women aged 15 to 44 have difficulty carrying a pregnancy to term(5). Men have just as many fertility issues as women. In 35% of cases, there are problems in both partners.
Fertility treatments address these issues. These treatments include fertility drugs, assisted reproductive technologies (ART), and surgical treatments. However, while these treatments may boost fertility, they may also cause potential side effects.
A study showed a heightened risk of maternal death among pregnant women who used ART, specifically in vitro fertilization (IVF)(6). Unfortunately, the specific components of the treatment that may have increased the risks were not determined, but is most likely related to other underlying conditions and age.
Treatments for male infertility also displayed side effects. Clomiphene citrate is a drug that can help increase sperm production in men. However, it may cause gastrointestinal distress, hair loss, gynecomastia (enlargement of male breasts), and weight gain(7).
CBD may attenuate infertility. The compound has shown its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties in different research findings(8). These properties may aid in alleviating the symptoms of gynecological disorders that may cause infertility.
How CBD Oil Works to Help with Reproductive Issues
CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system plays an essential role in the body’s psychological functions, including reproduction(9).
The ECS has three main components: endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes. Endocannabinoids bind with the receptors and can elicit a specific response. Enzymes then break down the endocannabinoids after their function has been carried out.
CBD and THC are phytocannabinoids that can bind with receptors and activate their functions.
In a study on the male reproductive system, researchers noted that G-protein coupled receptors (GPR18) could activate an acrosome reaction(10). The reaction allows the sperm cell to penetrate the egg, allowing fertilization to happen.
Meanwhile, some female reproductive issues linked to infertility may be addressed with CBD’s impact on the ECS(11).
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can be linked with how the ECS works(12). In the condition, the uterus shows a decrease in fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), the enzyme that breaks down the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA).
AEA may aid in production of immature eggs leading to ovulation(13). AEA continues to produce eggs because FAAH levels are too low to function. Overproduction of immature eggs may appear as multiple cysts inside the ovaries, hence the condition.
PCOS is an ovulation disorder that causes hormonal imbalance in women. This condition is a common cause of a woman’s infertility(14).
Endometriosis is another reproductive issue that may account for a woman’s infertility. It occurs when the endometrium tissues, the lining of the uterus, grow out of the womb. This condition is characterized by chronic pain and inflammation.
CBD has anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties that may help in pain management in the female reproductive tract(15).
On the other hand, using Cannabis may negatively impact the male reproductive system(16). These effects include changes in sexual behavior, reduced sperm count, and decreased fertilization rates. Whether CBD alone can help or harm one’s fertility remains to be determined for both sexes.
The mixed results of whether CBD can affect both sexes’ fertility may be best discussed with an obstetrician and gynecologist (ob/gyn).
The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Fertility
- CBD may help with pain and inflammation in the female reproductive system. These symptoms may contribute to female fertility issues.
- CBD may be purchased without a doctor’s prescription in states and territories where it is legalized.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that CBD has no potential for abuse and dependence, making it a substance with a good safety profile(17).
- No direct studies have shown that CBD use can increase fertility. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns people about the compound’s use during pregnancy and breastfeeding(18). Using cannabis during pregnancy can cause problems with the fetus, like low birth weight(19) and abnormal brain development(20).
- CBD may decrease male fertility and cause changes in sexual behavior and sperm concentration.
- CBD can cause side effects, like diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, and drowsiness(21).
How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Fertility Issues
Treatment options, such as acupuncture and meditation, are widely practiced to increase fertility rates. Other herbal medicines and dietary supplements, like chasteberry extract, may be taken to improve the condition.
These practices are still subject to medical review to prove their contribution to the fertility rates(22).
CBD oil has no guaranteed effect on fertility rates.
How to Choose the Right CBD Oil
There are three types of CBD oil to choose from when it comes to CBD concentration.
The purest form of CBD are the isolates. Isolates are made of 99% pure CBD derived from hemp plants.
Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids in hemp without THC. It creates an entourage effect that gives the maximum health benefits of the compounds working together.
Full-spectrum CBD oil has all the compounds present in the hemp plant, including THC. Unlike CBD, THC causes psychoactive effects.
Although CBD products do not have a guaranteed effect on a person’s fertility, they can be used to ease pain and inflammation as studies suggest.
CBD Dosage for Fertility
CBD dosage varies depending on the severity of the condition, body weight, and body chemistry. Always discuss with your doctor whether CBD might be a good choice.
As a precautionary measure, CBD should be taken in small doses, around 12mg to 25mg per day. It may be increased gradually until the desired effect is achieved.
How to Take CBD Oil for Reproductive Issues
CBD products come in various forms.
CBD vape pens are used for a direct impact on the circulatory system. Vaping CBD oil is the fastest method that can be used to alleviate pain and inflammatory symptoms.
CBD suppositories can also be used for pain that concerns the uterus. These treatments are taken intravaginally and may target cramp relief and muscle relaxation.
Ingestibles, such as CBD gummies, oils, and tinctures, can be options for users who want a traditional administration. Tinctures can also be used sublingually for more direct absorption.
Infertility is a common problem for couples. It is a reproductive issue that can be found in both men and women.
While CBD is not a proven solution to increase fertility rates, it may alleviate pain and inflammatory symptoms of health conditions that may cause infertility.
Taking alternative treatments, like CBD, should be prescribed by an ob/gyn before administration.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Infertility | Reproductive Health | CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/index.htm
- P Cavner, J. (2019). Is CBD A Viable Option for Menstrual Symptoms? Online Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 2(5), 1–3.
- Carvalho, R. K., Andersen, M. L., & Mazaro‐Costa, R. (2019). The effects of cannabidiol on male reproductive system: A literature review. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 40(1), 132–150. https://doi.org/10.1002/jat.3831
- World Bank. (2018). Fertility rate, total (births per woman) – United States. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN?locations=US
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. op. cit.
- Dayan, N., Joseph, K. S., Fell, D. B., Laskin, C. A., Basso, O., Park, A. L., Luo, J., Guan, J., & Ray, J. G. (2019). Infertility treatment and risk of severe maternal morbidity: a propensity score-matched cohort study. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne, 191(5), E118–E127. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.181124
- Khourdaji, I., Lee, H., & Smith, R. P. (2018). Frontiers in hormone therapy for male infertility. Translational Andrology and Urology, 7(S3), S353–S366. https://doi.org/10.21037/tau.2018.04.03
- Zhornitsky, S., & Potvin, S. (2012). Cannabidiol in humans-the quest for therapeutic targets. Pharmaceuticals (Basel, Switzerland), 5(5), 529–552. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph5050529
- Meccariello, R., Battista, N., Bradshaw, H. B., & Wang, H. (2014). Updates in Reproduction Coming from the Endocannabinoid System. International Journal of Endocrinology, 2014, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/412354
- Flegel, C., Vogel, F., Hofreuter, A. et al. Characterization of non-olfactory GPCRs in human sperm with a focus on GPR18. Sci Rep 6, 32255 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/srep32255
- Luschnig, P., & Schicho, R. (2019). Cannabinoids in Gynecological Diseases. Medical Cannabis and Cannabinoids, 2(1), 14–21. https://doi.org/10.1159/000499164
- Walker, O. S., Holloway, A. C., & Raha, S. (2019). The role of the endocannabinoid system in female reproductive tissues. Journal of ovarian research, 12(1), 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13048-018-0478-9
- Melo, A. S., Ferriani, R. A., & Navarro, P. A. (2015). Treatment of infertility in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: approach to clinical practice. Clinics (Sao Paulo, Brazil), 70(11), 765–769. https://doi.org/10.6061/clinics/2015(11)09
- P Cavner, J. op. cit.
- Cacciola, G., Chianese, R., Chioccarelli, T., Ciaramella, V., Fasano, S., Pierantoni, R., Meccariello, R., & Cobellis, G. (2010). Cannabinoids and Reproduction: A Lasting and Intriguing History. Pharmaceuticals, 3(10), 3275–3323. https://doi.org/10.3390/ph3103275
- World Health Organization. (2018). Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/CannabidiolCriticalReview.pdf
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2019, October 16). What You Should Know About Using CBD When Pregnant or Breastfeeding. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/what-you-should-know-about-using-cannabis-including-cbd-when-pregnant-or-breastfeeding#2
- Gunn JK, Rosales CB, Center KE, Nuñez A, Gibson SJ, Christ C, Ehiri JE.”Prenatal exposure to cannabis and maternal and child health outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” 2016 Apr 5;6(4):e009986. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009986.
- Chia-Shan Wu, Christopher P Jew, and Hui-Chen Lu. “Lasting impacts of prenatal cannabis exposure and the role of endogenous cannabinoids in the developing brain.” Future Neurol. 2011 Jul 1; 6(4): 459–480.
- Huestis, M. A., Solimini, R., Pichini, S., Pacifici, R., Carlier, J., & Busardò, F. P. (2019). Cannabidiol Adverse Effects and Toxicity. Current neuropharmacology, 17(10), 974–989. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159X17666190603171901
- Miner, S. A., Robins, S., Zhu, Y. J., Keeren, K., Gu, V., Read, S. C., & Zelkowitz, P. (2018). Evidence for the use of complementary and alternative medicines during fertility treatment: a scoping review. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 18(1), 158. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-018-2224-7