How Does Cannabis Affect Birth Control?

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2015 and 2017, 64.9% of women in the US were using some sort of birth control. With increasing numbers of women using cannabis, many some wonder whether and how the plant, and its products, affect female fertility. 

As of yet, there have been few, if any, studies on how cannabis affects birth control methods. However, there is some research that suggests that, due to cannabis’s effects on other aspects of a person’s physiology, it might affect the efficacy of some birth control solutions. 

For example, birth control containing estrogen- including pills, intrauterine device, the patch, ring, and implant- is known to raise a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke as it can lead to an increase in blood pressure. As smoking tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is known to raise blood pressure as well as heart rate, taking estrogen-containing birth control could damage overall health. 

Other research has shown that endocannabinoids play an important role in the female reproductive system and that impairing the endocannabinoid system can harm female reproductive organs and increase infertility. As such, inhibiting or enhancing endocannabinoid signaling with cannabis could lead to adverse effects on the reproductive system that may impact birth control in some way- perhaps making it more or less effective. 

Nevertheless, until further research is conducted looking at the specific effects and mechanisms underlying cannabis’s effects on birth control, it will be difficult to make any conclusions on the matter. To that end, Oregon Health and Science University is working on a study investigating the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on birth control. The study is expected to be completed on August 1, 2021. 

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