In my third and final post of the Benefits of CBD Oil for Women Series, I’m diving in to my favorite topic: FERTILITY. (If you haven’t read the first two posts, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 here). In addition to affecting pretty much every major system in your body, your endocannabinoid system is also intricately intertwined with your reproductive hormones, therefore playing a role in fertilization, implantation, and early pregnancy.
The naturally occurring endocannabinoids produced in your body begin increasing on day one of your menstrual cycle, peak at ovulation, then decrease until your period starts again. While there have been some studies on the overall effects of cannabis on the reproductive system, we still don’t know exactly how CBD, specifically, works with your menstrual cycle.
This is what gets tricky and confusing about cannabis and fertility—there are studies showing that habitual marijuana use is associated with low fertility in women and men, AND there are also recent studies showing that marijuana use does NOT affect fertility.
My take? There are at least 100 or more plant-based endocannabinoids in the marijuana plant, and many have not been studied. All of them come in varying amounts depending on the variety and strain of the marijuana plant, and they all interact with our (extremely delicate) endocannabinoid system in different ways, which is why they can interact with the reproductive system in different ways.
CBD is one of the most highly studied (non-psychoactive) endocannabinoids, and it’s such a potent anti-inflammatory substance with so many researched benefits for other organ systems that I believe it’s benefits to the reproductive system are extremely valuable, under-utilized, and worth including in an overall plan for increasing fertility health, in addition to eating whole, real foods, daily movement, and eliminating as many toxins from your body as possible (of course 😉)
“Studies on both male and female test subjects have found links between poor mental health and decreased fertility rates, finding a possible correlation between stress, anxiety, and depression’s effect on the release of hormones that regulate ovulation in women, and sperm production in men.”
Here’s what we do know: CBD can act as a gentle regulator of your stress levels, your sleep, and inflammation in your body—all of which help to keep your reproductive hormones in balance, and therefore improve your fertility health.
Chronic stress affects your fertility by signaling to your body that conditions are not ideal for conception. The part of the brain that governs reproduction is the reptilian brain—it doesn’t differentiate modern day “stress” (late for a meeting) any differently than “primal” stress (running from a big, scary bear). In other words, if you’re constantly stressed out, your body diverts all your energy away from the reproductive system—studies have shown links between stress, anxiety, depression, and decreased fertility rates.
CBD oil can have a major impact on your stress levels because of its relationship to anandamide—the “bliss molecule.” CBD oil acts as an anandamide reuptake inhibitor, increasing the amount of anandamide present in the brain, lowering stress and improving your overall mood. Additionally, studies have found that CBD can help regulate levels of cortisol (the stress activating hormone), adding even more stress-reducing benefits.
Sleep—both quality and quantity—has a major impact on your fertility. Disrupted sleep patterns can suppress ovulation, cause low basal body temperature, and consequently create hormonal imbalance. Lack of sleep affects key fertility hormones including estrogen, progesterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and leptin. Regular sleep is required to produce proper amounts of leptin—and disrupted release of leptin can cause irregular menstrual cycles.
CBD oil improves sleep cycles by regulating the production of catabolic hormones like cortisol—which can prevent the onset of sleep (or stop us from sleeping entirely), and limit the number of REM cycles we get each night. In the course of a night you should have six to seven cycles of REM sleep in order to feel refreshed and ready to start a new day. If you regularly wake in the morning without feeling rested and refreshed, CBD is one tool that can help ensure you get a full night of restorative sleep.
Oxidative stress (cellular inflammation) is the root cause of SO. MANY. FERTILITY. PROBLEMS. Cellular inflammation has been correlated with endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and premature ovarian failure.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is intricately involved in the processing and modulation of inflammatory signals, both in the peripheral and central nervous systems. CBD and other cannabinoids show definite promise as pain-relievers and anti-inflammatory agents, similar to ibuprofen but without the side effects (stomach upset, ulcers, liver damage, etc.). Multiple studies have been conducted on CBD as an anti-inflammatory, and have found that using CBD is a potent treatment for inflammatory disorders.
The bottom line? We still have a lot of work to do in understanding exactly the risks and benefits associated with all the plant-based endocannabinoids found in cannabis, but the benefits of CBD oil for women are well-researched and totally worth adding to your medicine cabinet and your self-care routine.
Do you have more questions about how CBD affects your fertility? Let’s talk.
Schedule a consultation with me here.