NIH study: Cannabis use could decrease chances of conception

Published Jan 27, 2021 01:00 p.m. ET
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When we finally reach that amazing point in life where children become the number one thing on our minds, it’s generally pretty easy to create tiny little versions of ourselves, but not everyone is so fortunate. Some people struggle trying to conceive for weeks, months, or even years on end to no avail. Even those with no medical issues might want to get pregnant as quickly as possible, and this can take some research, dedication, and planning.

Regardless of how your reproductive health might be, if you want to conceive a child, then chances are pretty good you’ll want to make some changes in your day-to-day life. It might not be anything major, but a few extra stretches here, a healthy meal choice there, along with a handful of prenatals, and you can significantly increase your chances of not only getting pregnant but also creating a tiny human who is happy and healthy. Bigger adjustments are sometimes considered, too, like quitting smoking.

The goal

The goal of the most recent study was to calculate the chances of conception in cannabis consumers versus non-consumers to see if there is any significant difference between the two. Researchers began with the hope that neither group would be disadvantaged over the years, but as it turns out, there were some discrepancies, and they didn’t look very good for the group of hopeful mothers who used cannabis.

The study

Researchers with the National Institute of Health, led by Sunni L. Mumford, PhD of the Epidemiology Branch in the NIH Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, looked at 1200 women who were between the ages of 18 and 40. All participants were struggling to conceive following one or two miscarriages. The study continued for up to 6 months with each unsuccessful individual and up to a full year right throughout pregnancy.


Every 30 days the results of participants were logged, and in the end, researchers found that those who used cannabis were 41% less likely to conceive. Overall, 42% of those using cannabis ended up pregnant whereas 66% of non-users had successfully conceived. Interestingly though, there was no significant difference in the number of miscarriages in each group, suggesting that something was getting in the way of conception rather than a problem that might lead to an unhealthy embryo.


What this means

When you’re trying to conceive, a 40% better chance is a massive improvement, and so it is clear that most women who find themselves in this position could benefit greatly by avoiding cannabis products. However, since there was no difference in miscarriages, the research suggests barrier during implantation when the egg fuses to the lining of the uterus.

This theory can be backed up by prior studies using animals, which showed that cannabis use thinned the lining of the uterus just enough to make it hard for the egg to attach, thereby making it less likely for conception to happen at all. So, while you might not need to stay away from the green throughout the entire pregnancy for a good outcome, those who are trying to conceive should definitely steer clear of it.

Every journey and experience will be different

The NIH study highlights some of the potential effects of cannabis use on the human body, and these things do need to be considered by those who are trying to conceive, but every person's situation and experience will be different. Some require cannabis for medical reasons, and in those cases, going without might cause more harm than good for your mental and physical health, which is why it is always best to consult a healthcare provider you trust before making such an important and potentially life-changing decision.

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