The Link Between Endocannabinoids and Fertility

A guest article by Natalie Gray, on behalf of Worldwide Marijuana Seeds.

Title pic from https://pixabay.com/en/sperm-egg-fertilization-sex-cell-956481/

The Endocannabinoid system (ECS)

 

The endocannabinoid system plays an essential role in the essential biological processes necessary for reproduction.

The human body’s reproductive system is regulated by the signaling of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). In a woman, the ECS influences the transport of the egg and the receptivity of the uterus through embryo implantation. The ECS is also involved in a multitude of pathways after the embryo has been fixed.

New evidence gathered from scientists and researchers has shed light on a little-known area of the ECS that has until now been shrouded in mystery. They presented a proof of the presence of the G protein-coupled receptor 18 (GPR18) receptor in sperm cells. GPR18 was for some time seen as completely separate from the more well-known CB1 and CB2 receptors. This research contributes compelling new data that not only is this the case, but that the receptors and their endogenous cannabinoid agonists play a vital role in one of the most significant biological processes necessary for reproduction. There is some suggestion that some G protein-coupled receptors such as GPR18 (e.g. GPR55) are a third or even fourth type of endocannabinoid receptor: CB3/CB4.

Effect of Cannabis on Fertility

 

In a paper published in 2010 by BioMed Central, the authors demonstrate that disrupting the normal activities of ECS pathways by adding cannabinoids can alter various vital in utero processes, including fetal neural & cognitive development, angiogenesis (the formation of new red blood cells), cellular replication, and tissue differentiation. Other obstetrics-gynecology laboratory research recommends that marijuana consumption improves placental barrier permeability to xenobiotics and could endanger the developing fetus.

 

Angiogenesis; red blood cell formation.
Neovascularization: angiogenesis and vasculogenesis. Isner J., Vale P., Losordo D. and el. Angiogenesis and cardiovascular disease. Dialogues in cardiovascular medicine. 2001; 3: 145-170.

THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)

 

Cannabis contains the compound, THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), alongside many other active compounds. THC chemicals stays for an extended period in the fat molecules of the human system (cannabinoids are lipophilic). Thus, an active user of cannabis may have a problem in the status of their fertility. Inside human sperm are cannabinoid receptors and the endocannabinoid, anandamide. Anandamide excites and triggers the cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system and other human organs, including sexual organs. This suggests that cannabinoids play an essential role in the inception of humans.

The increased volume of cannabinoids in people who use cannabis could potentially shoot the natural endocannabinoid-signal systems in reproductive organs up. This could negatively affect fertility. Due to the appearance of active cannabinoid receptors within human sperm, research has been done in further details about the cause of unusual infertility among men and women, and it was suggested that THC exhibits a potential hazard to the male reproductive system.

There is some possibility that use of high amounts of THC can be a factor in causing infertility in women as well. Cannabinoid receptors are also detected in the female reproductive system. With continual use of cannabis, small amounts of THC become present in vaginal fluid, and could theoretically increase oestrogen production (and essentially act in a similar manner to the contraceptive pill, but perhaps not as reliable as one). During the process of conceiving, when the sperm gets into contact with THC, the THC absorbs the sperm turning it into overstimulated sperm.

 

Oestrogen; estrogen; estradiol valerate; chemical structure; hormone replacement.
Estradiol valerate, a form of estrogen used for menopause.

 

It seems that THC may affect fertility in males more than it affects fertility in females. Sperm in cannabis users drives too fast and too early, which makes it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg inside the vaginal canal. This leads to burn out, where the sperm is over stimulated and traveling at a slower pace before it gets in touch with the egg.

Cannabidiol (CBD) and Fertility

 

Most research is not positive about taking any cannabinoids during pregnancy, but at least one investigation points to a conclusion with a reasonable explanation as to why. Conducted in Scotland and printed in the Journal of the Society for Reproduction and Fertility, the study’s researchers resolve that CBD can decrease uterine compressions. This research was done with a synthetic CBD, called abnormal cannabidiol (abn-CBD).

A report from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular and Cellular Biology, Georgetown University Medical Center, points out that the ECS plays a role in motility, viability, and sperm count. The unique and varied role of the ECS in the human body, including its effects upon fertility and conception, could be an area of concern regarding cannabinoid use.

 

Molecular Structure - CBD
CBD molecular structure.
Concluding Thoughts

 

So, it should be plain that cannabis used during pregnancy can pose hazards and should be used with a noteworthy warning. There has always been a contentious debate regarding the legality of cannabis, where one questions the medical benefits and how to utilize its different effects.

Is there be a distinct link between ECS and fertility, particularly in females who want to become pregnant? There could well be, and from the evidence we have so far, there is some possibility that consuming high amounts of THC could contribute to infertility – both in males and females. So far, the evidence suggests that this aspect of THC affects males more than females, but this area of research is young.

Marijuana seeds, plants and other products derived from cannabis could be listed in a different classification of drug scheduling, where the purpose of usage lies to the user. Cannabis has been found to be therapeutic in some (and perhaps not an insignificant number of) patients experiencing severe health problems. Cannabis consumption is potentially helpful for a wide range of conditions, such neuropathic pain, glaucoma, spasticity, and movement disorder. However, where pregnancy is concerned, as well as attempts to conceive, it is perhaps wise to take a more conservative approach.

 

Natalie Gray is a Biochemical Engineer. She works in the Research and Development at Tsubasa Builders Inc., with a team that focuses on the design and construction of unit processes. She is a recreational & medical marijuana supporter and her love for organic chemistry brought her to medical cannabis. She grows her own flowers, working on different projects, and studies anything above and under cannabis’ roots.

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