Cannabis & the Reproductive System
The survival of the human race depends upon the proper function of our reproductive system.
The survival of the human race depends upon the proper function of our reproductive system. It’s what creates families, permits our genes to be passed down through the ages, and allows us to enjoy connecting to someone on a more intimate level as a family is created and raised. There’s a lot of controversy surrounding cannabis’s effects on male and female reproductive organs, but a few studies have clued us in on how the plant can either improve or hinder them.
The human reproductive system consists of internal and external organs, each system specific to males versus females, that work together for procreation. The major difference in effects regarding cannabis use among men and women is that men may unfortunately have a few mildly negative side-effects when overconsuming. This understanding comes from only a handful of studies, so it’s vital to keep an open mind about whether the plant can negatively or positively impact reproductive health.
Women can enjoy the benefits of cannabis each month during their menstrual cycle. It’s been shown to reduce cramping and relieve dysmenorrhea, benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids working their analgesic and relaxing properties. There has also been a study confirming the presence of CB1 receptors in the reproductive organs, along with a solid indication they play a role in dysmenorrhea-related pain that cannabinoids may help reduce.
When a reproductive organ becomes infected, there’s a chance it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women. Such a problem can become quite painful as the organs become inflamed, however, CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that could possibly assist in reducing both inflammation and pain, hopefully helping the patient endure these symptoms while the condition is treated.
There’s evidence supporting that cannabis can balance estrogen levels in females by decreasing the release of gonadotropin releasing hormone. This release decreases progesterone, one of the hormones that regulates the menstrual cycle. Women who have severe fluctuations of menstrual hormones may feel benefit from these potentially adaptogenic effects.
Studies have confirmed that the endocannabinoid system can be found in an embryo’s earliest growing stages. Endocannabinoids are also present in breastmilk which is crucially important for brain development as well as the baby’s immunity. These facts may turn studies towards pinpointing what role endocannabinoids play in growing and maturing brain tissue.
Anandamide, a cannabinoid compound synthesized in the human body, has been found abundantly in the oviductal and follicular fluids of women which are important for menstruation. This points us in the direction of proceeding with studies that involve such fluids and observing their changes when cannabis is present within the system.
In men, data collected from self-reports and fertility tests have shown a correlation between cannabis consumers and an estimated 29% decrease in sperm count. However, the self-reports remain inconclusive due to the fact that it’s possible the men may have been using prescription or over-the-counter drugs, caffeine, or cigarettes at the time they filled out their questionnaire. It could be that other factors play a role in their lower sperm counts. More data is needed that factors age and baseline values as some medical journals have reported that male sperm count is decreasing anyway, with men today having a sperm count that is 50% lower than men thirty years ago.
Though the change is very slight, it’s believed cannabis can alter testosterone levels in men depending on recency of use. It has been shown to decrease testosterone by about 2 to 3% in men who have consumed cannabis recently. So far, this decrease seems to be easily reversible upon ceasing the cannabis. However, some reports note that natural vapors from cannabis may be linked to improved production of testosterone along with increased spermatogenesis while also overcoming erectile dysfunction by dilating blood vessels.
There’s a great deal of anecdotal evidence supporting the notion that cannabis heightens pleasure during sex, both physically and emotionally. However, studies in this realm often contradict one another or end up with fifty-fifty results as half claim it helps and the other claiming it doesn’t. More studies are needed to further investigate cannabis’s role as a libido enhancing agent, but there are already products on the market claiming they will heighten pleasure during sex – especially in females.
While there’s little to no evidence supporting these claims, cannabis may impact female reproduction negatively. It is suggested that any woman attempting to conceive or who is already pregnant should consume very sparingly or not at all until more is known about the plant’s effects on both the womb and the fetus. While excess consumption of THC can cause slightly lower testosterone levels in men, it can be reversed once consumption stops. The plant may act as a therapeutic aid for anyone suffering from a pelvic inflammatory disease and can help manage pain related to the reproductive system.