Cannabis Health reports on cannabis oil’s rising prominence in the lives of people hoping to start a family.
With data showing that around 1 in 7 couples in the UK struggle to conceive, and alternatives such as IVF proving costly, many couples are keen to try alternative methods to help them on their journey to parenthood – including CBD oil.
While there may not be much official guidance and advice surrounding the correlation between CBD oil use and enhanced fertility, some studies suggest the oil could play a role in increasing fertility in couples who previously struggled to conceive.
This shouldn’t be confused, however, with the intake of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) through smoking weed, which is shown to have damaging effects on fertility. Previous studies have shown that smoking cannabis can result in reduced testosterone levels and poor sperm count and mobility, making it much more difficult for men to conceive naturally.
Research into CBD and fertility is emerging, with early studies, plus anecdotal evidence from patients showing a potentially positive link.
Firstly, let’s talk science and hormones. Studies have suggested that CBD oil can play a vital role in hormone balancing for both men and women, aiding in the success of conception.
Researchers at the Paediatrics Department at Vanderbilt University said: “The life of the egg and the beginning of a pregnancy, depends on a healthy endocannabinoid system.”
Elsewhere, in the paper ‘The role of the endocannabinoid system in female reproductive tissues’, researchers state: “While the ECS is known to modulate pain and neurodevelopment, it is also known to impact the female reproductive system.”
Various other papers have also indicated a positive correlation between a balanced ECS and improved fertility, in particular the benefit of a specific amount of the endocannabinoid anandamide.
In women, high levels of anandamide – a type of endocannabinoid found in the body – occur at ovulation and are associated with a successful pregnancy, where low levels or a deficiency can be detrimental.That’s where CBD can begin to have an impact, boosting anandamide levels by preventing its breakdown and supporting successful ovulation.
However, timing is everything for in this relationship. Low levels of anandamide are required during embryo implantation, meaning use of CBD after conception may have a negative interference with the pregnancy.
Cannabinoid receptors have also been found in female ovaries, including granulosa cells or follicles cells of secondary and tertiary follicles.
According to researchers from the University of Naples, Italy: “Cannabinoid and adrenergic systems coordinate together oviductal motility for normal journey of embryos into the uterus.”
Researchers in Canada also found that CBD can have a positive impact at the very start of conception, linking female sexual arousal to activity in the endocannabinoid system.
Meanwhile, research conducted by Dr. Hans Hatt at Ruhr University in Germany has found a link between CBD and the impact on male fertility.
The study found that a receptor (GPR18) previously thought to be part of the ECS is also present in sperm cells, providing a link between cannabinoids, the ECS and fertility.
Evidence suggests CBD may play a key role in an essential biological process for procreation called the acrosome reaction.
When the GPR18 receptor in sperm cells is activated, this acrosome reaction is triggered, altering the sperm slightly to remove the protective ‘cap’ on its head and allowing it to effectively penetrate the egg.
While more research is needed, early indication is that CBD can positively impact the chance of conception in both parties.
Anyone who has had difficulty to conceiving will know that mental health can often have as much of an impact as physical causes.
Stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions can have a hugely negative impact on fertility in both men and women by lowering hormones necessary for egg and sperm production.
Again, this is where CBD can help. It is widely reported this can directly activate serotonin (the ‘happiness chemical’) receptors, helping to boost mood and relax both partners.
CBD has also been found to regulate cortisol secretion, the stress activating hormone. Among other things, stress can also delay ovulation, making it difficult for women to attempt conception at their most fertile.
So, while research and guidance from industry bodies is still emerging, preliminary studies are showing a positive relationship between the use of CBD oil and fertility.
With ever-increasing sales, it seems more and more are opting to try something new on their journey to parenthood.
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