Regular cannabis consumers who are struggling to conceive may want to lay off the pre-pregnancy pot, according to a new study from the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).
Published in the journal Fertility & Sterility Science, the study suggests consumption of THC — tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicating compound in cannabis — just thrice-weekly may have a much more powerful effect on female reproductive hormones and menstrual cycles than previously believed.
The study was conducted using female rhesus macaques between the ages of six and 12 who had previously successfully conceived. The primates were exposed to THC via the consumption of a cannabis edible (in addition to their standard meals) every day for a three-month period and closely monitored. The potency of the edible was gradually increased every month until the edibles reached the study’s maximum dose of 2.5 grams of THC per unit, which the authors describe as “medically and recreationally relevant contemporary doses.”
The results indicated that regularly consuming THC, for even a short period of time, can have a profound effect on the monkeys’ female reproductive functions.
“In just a short time period, we observed irregularity in the animals’ reproductive cycles,” lead author Jamie Lo, M.D., MCR, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at OHSU School of Medicine, and Division of Reproductive & Developmental Sciences at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, said in a statement.
“Overall, menstrual periods were longer in duration, and levels of follicle-stimulating hormone, one of the critical regulators for the body’s reproductive function, increased. These factors suggest the strong potential for reproductive system dysfunction that, in turn, may impact the ability to become pregnant,” she added.
As the potency of the edibles decreased, so did the irregularities in both the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone levels, the length of the primates’ menstrual cycles, and signs of ovulatory dysfunction.
Although the mechanism remains a mystery, Lo says, THC appears to have a profound effect on primates’ ability to conceive, with dosing being a major factor.
“While we don’t yet know why THC influences the female reproductive system, we do know that the response appears to be dose dependent. This means that the higher concentration of THC that is being used, the more the reproductive system is affected,” she explained.
The authors note, however, that comprehensive research is needed to explore the effects of THC on menstrual cyclicity and reproductive endocrine physiology.
“Further studies are needed to determine the effects of a longer duration of exposure and whether the significant increase in MCL and FSH concentrations results in reduced fecundity,” reads the study.
Lo suggests that anyone trying to get pregnant be cognizant of the potential effects of weed on their ability to conceive.
Subscribe to Weekend Dispensary, a new weekly newsletter from The GrowthOp.