Does Marijuana Affect Birth Control?
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Recreational marijuana is legal in 11 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., but there are still many gray areas when it comes to the health effects of using cannabis. Research is still being done on marijuana secondhand smoke as well as the benefits and risks of trendy products like CBD. However, there have been many studies that have shown marijuana can interfere with some medications.
Almost 13% of women age 15-49 are currently using birth control pills for contraception, while more than 10% use long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s no surprise, therefore, that many women would be concerned about the risks associated with mixing marijuana with birth control.
While there have been studies on marijuana use and fertility, there is limited research on the interaction of marijuana and birth control. Despite this, many birth control brands come with warnings that there could be adverse effects when their pill or patch is combined with marijuana.
Marijuana may have effects that counteract estrogen, potentially making estrogen-based birth control pills — as well as patches, injections and rings — less effective. However, there’s no data to suggest that marijuana decreases the effectiveness of birth control.
Certain hormone-based contraception also comes with a warning that it can theoretically decrease the elimination of marijuana from the body, meaning the effects of marijuana could be more severe or last longer.
Cardiovascular issues are also a concern for combining marijuana and contraceptives. Cigarette smoking already increases the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects from oral contraceptive use, and smoking marijuana could have a similar effect.
Researchers are also investigating the effect of marijuana on blood pressure, with some linking cannabis to higher blood pressure but others finding CBD decreases blood pressure. Birth control pills, patches and IUDs can all increase blood pressure, risk of blood-clotting problems and other heart issues.
The lack of research on how marijuana affects the health of women, in particular, is one reason more and more women are being inspired to dive into the fields of marijuana research and law as well as becoming pioneers in the marijuana industry.
Marijuana may make birth control pills less effective, but there are other factors to consider before using birth control and marijuana at the same time.
Is it safe to smoke cannabis while on birth control?
We have heard of studies and doctors warning women against smoking weed while pregnant. Even if it is to reduce morning sickness or nausea.
But how about women on birth control?
There are those who are taking birth control pills or are on other forms of contraceptives who are also wondering if smoking weed is okay. Does smoking weed make contraceptive less efficient and make one susceptible to accidental pregnancy? Does it have adverse effects on a female’s health? What are the risks?
Also, does smoking weed have the same effect as smoking tobacco?
Smoking cigarettes while on birth control
It is a well-known fact that smoking cigarettes is a no-no for women who are on birth control. For one, tobacco increases your risks of developing blood clots. It can also make you more susceptible to strokes and heart attacks. What’s more, the older you are, the higher the health risks. It follows that women who are older than 35 years old and are on birth control will face increased risks, as well as those who have pre-existing heart conditions.
So what about weed?
Dr. Jordan Tishler thinks that you should avoid cannabis while on birth control. Tishler is the president of InhaleMD, an organization of medical marijuana doctors in the state of Massachusetts. Tishler relates that there are not much case reports of clots that can be traced to cannabis smoke, but there are no formal studies yet. This lack of scientific studies on the effects of cannabis on women who use birth control should be enough to discourage you from smoking weed.
Tishler recommends vaporizing cannabis flowers instead.
What we know
While there are no studies on cannabis and its interactions on birth control products, there are some things that you can deduce from the things we already know.
1. THC increases your blood pressure.
If you use full range cannabis, it will have THC in it. The product can easily elevate your blood pressure. Some contraceptives like Nuva Ring can increase your risk of blood clots. Combining the increase in blood pressure from THC and the increase of blood clot risks while on birth control can mean disaster.
2. THC increases estrogen levels.
Another effect of ingesting THC is that it affects your estrogen levels, which could also have an effect on estrogen-based contraceptives.
3. So if THC is bad for birth control products, what about CBD?
THC is a no-no for women on birth control, but can they still use CBD oil that does not have any THC? Apparently not. CBD has more potential to interact with contraceptives. It lowers the level of oral estrogen, and can effectively make oral contraceptives less effective.
A study found that CBD can block the action of specific enzymes. Unfortunately, these are the same enzymes that help process estrogen-based contraceptives.
What’s more, if you cannot avoid mixing birth control and CBD use, then you should at least avoid smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or using St. John’s wort. These three substances can increase CBD’s enzyme blocking actions, making your contraceptives even less effective.
4. Progesterone-based contraceptives are okay.
According to Tishler, much of cannabis’ interactions with birth control products have something to do with estrogen. In that sense, progesterone-based birth control products should be fine. CBD, Tishler reports, can increase progesterone levels, which does not affect POCs.
5. Use other forms of birth control when using marijuana.
Because there have been no conclusive scientific studies on the effects of cannabis on contraceptives, you should be extra careful. Use backup birth control, like condoms, or get an IUD, if you use marijuana while on birth control.
While they say that the best birth control is abstinence, it does seem that this is not an option when it comes to cannabis. For the simple reason that cannabis makes you horny. It will be difficult to maintain celibacy when using cannabis. With no definitive and conclusive studies on the effects of cannabis, THC, and CBD on contraceptives, it is better to be safe and use condoms and other forms of birth control.
Is it safe to smoke cannabis while on birth control? We have heard of studies and doctors warning women against smoking weed while pregnant. Even if it is to reduce morning sickness or nausea.