Utah Qualified Medical Providers (QMPs) get a lot of great questions from patients looking to obtain their Medical Cannabis Cards. One of the more common is whether cannabis has any detrimental effect on contraception. Here is the most important thing you need to know on this topic: we don’t know for sure.
That’s not a cop-out. It is not an attempt to avoid answering the question. We simply do not know all the possible implications of how cannabis and hormonal contraceptives interact. Obviously, cannabis use would not have any effect on mechanical contraception (condoms, IUD, etc.).
We do know the endocannabinoid system contributes to regulating the female cycle. So there is always a possibility that using cannabis while also using hormonal contraceptives could make contraception less effective. There is also a remote possibility that cannabis could help women struggling with infertility.
As with most things regarding cannabis, there isn’t a whole lot of study data we can look at to determine the influence cannabis might have on contraception. Again, we do know that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in influencing the female reproductive cycle. We also know that a study published back in 2013 provides strong evidence suggesting that impairment of the endocannabinoid system can interrupt the normal functioning of the female reproductive system.
It is not clear from the study what exactly qualifies as impairment across the board. Could it be that some people experience endocannabinoid impairment as a result of using cannabis? Is it possible that low cannabis consumption would not impair the endocannabinoid system, but heavy consumption would?
These are things we don’t know. What we can say is that consuming cannabis while using hormonal contraception could be problematic. It is possible that cannabis could reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills and other hormonal products. If you are at all concerned about it, there are solutions. You can consume less cannabis, choose another form of contraception, or do both.
We have a bit more data on smoking cannabis while using Hormonal contraception. Studies have shown that any type of smoking – whether tobacco, cannabis, or something else – is not good for your health. Combining smoking with more contraception could increase the likelihood of blood clots, thrombosis, and more.
The Cannigma website does a fantastic job of discussing this particular topic on their website. You might want to take a look. They reference numerous studies as well as highlighting the fact that some of the data is conflicting. You are advised to look at the data with an open mind before making any sort of decision about it.
In the end, smoking always carries risks with it. Your best bet is to avoid it while on contraception. Moreover, smoking cannabis is illegal in Utah. That should answer the question about whether you should do it. Your Medical Cannabis options in that Beehive State include cannabis flower (for dry heating and cooking), vaping, tinctures and oils, and a few other products.
We cannot definitively say whether using cannabis and hormonal contraception simultaneously reduces the effectiveness of the contraception. It is possible that it does. Therefore, the best advice we can give is to err on the side of caution. If you are concerned that cannabis could make your contraception less effective, adjust accordingly.
If you are not worried about it, we do not necessarily have data suggesting you should be. Do whatever you are comfortable with. Hopefully, future studies will give us more solid data to look at.