Can Marijuana Seeds Prevent Pregnancy

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Using marijuana during pregnancy may cause harm to your baby and increase the risk of premature birth. It may also affect fertility before pregnancy. Learn about the effects of marijuana and, if, seek help to quit. Some recent studies suggest that marijuana can negatively affect fertility in both men and women. Read the article to learn about the correlation between marijuana and fertility to get informed about the latest findings. Learn about whether marijuana can cause infertility, including a review of research on marijuana's effects on women and men.

Marijuana and pregnancy

No amount of marijuana has been proven safe to use during pregnancy.

Using marijuana during pregnancy may cause problems for your baby, like premature birth, problems with brain development and stillbirth.

It’s not safe to use marijuana to treat morning sickness. Talk to your health care provider about treatments that are safer for your baby.

If you use marijuana, don’t breastfeed. You may pass chemicals from marijuana to your baby through breast milk.

Talk to your provider if you need help to quit using marijuana or any other street drug.

What is marijuana?

Marijuana (also called pot, weed and cannabis) is a drug that comes from the dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds of the cannabis plant. Marijuana is the most commonly used street drug during pregnancy.

Marijuana has more than 500 chemicals, including tetrahydrocannabinol (also called THC). This chemical can affect how your brain works and make it hard to think clearly. THC and other chemicals in marijuana may change your sense of sight, sound and touch.

Using marijuana during pregnancy may cause problems for your baby before and after birth.

What is medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana (also called medicinal marijuana) is sometimes used to treat certain health conditions, like cancer or severe pain. In many states, medical marijuana is legal to use with a recommendation from your health care provider. It can be smoked, vaped or eaten. The Food and Drug Administration (also called FDA) has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective medicine for any health condition.

In some states, marijuana is legal for personal use that’s not for medical reasons.

Even if it’s legal where you live for either personal or medical use, no amount of marijuana is safe to use marijuana during pregnancy, even to treat morning sickness. There is also no safe way to use marijuana. If you’re thinking of using marijuana to help with morning sickness, talk to your provider about other treatments that are less harmful to your baby.

Is it harmful to use marijuana before pregnancy?

Yes. Before pregnancy, using marijuana can affect your fertility and make it hard for you to get pregnant. Marijuana can affect:

  • Hormones that your body needs to get pregnant. Hormones are chemicals made by the body.
  • Your menstrual cycle. This is the process of your ovaries releasing an egg every month.
  • A man’s sperm count (the number of sperm he makes). A man’s sperm fertilizes a woman’s egg to begin a pregnancy.

Can using marijuana during pregnancy cause problems for your baby?

Yes. When you use marijuana during pregnancy, THC and other chemicals can pass through the placenta to your baby. The placenta grows in your uterus (womb) and supplies your baby with food and oxygen through the umbilical cord. Chemicals from marijuana also may pass to your baby’s brain.

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Researchers are continuing to study the effects of marijuana use during pregnancy. Women who use marijuana may smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or use other street drugs, making it hard to know exactly how marijuana affects pregnancy. Some studies suggest that if you use marijuana during pregnancy, your baby may have problems, including:

    . This is birth that happens too early, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Fetal growth restriction (also called growth-restricted, small for gestational age and small for date) and low birthweight. Fetal growth restriction is when a baby doesn’t gain the weight she should before birth. Low birthweight is when a baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces. Your baby also may have short body length or small head size.
  • Anencephaly. This is one of the most severe neural tube defects (also called NTDs). NTDs are birth defects in the neural tube, the part of a developing baby that becomes the brain and spine. Babies with this condition are missing major parts of the brain, skull and scalp. Most do not survive long after birth, usually for just a few hours. Babies exposed to marijuana during the first month of pregnancy are at increased risk of having anencephaly. . This is when your baby doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
  • Problems with brain development. . This is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

If you use marijuana during pregnancy, your baby can have problems after birth and may need to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (also called NICU). A NICU is the nursey in a hospital where sick newborns get care. These problems include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms, like tremors (shakes), seizures, vomiting, slow weight gain or long periods of crying after birth. These symptoms usually go away within the first two weeks after birth.
  • Problems with sleeping.
  • Problems with behavior, memory, learning, problem-solving, depression and paying attention.

How does using marijuana affect breastfeeding?

If you breastfeed your baby and smoke marijuana, you may pass THC and other chemicals to your baby through the breast milk. Than can make your baby more likely to have problems with brain development. Marijuana also may affect the amount and quality of breast milk you make. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding moms stay away from marijuana to help keep breast milk safe and healthy.

Can using marijuana harm your general health?

Yes. The more marijuana you use, the more likely you are to have problems, including:

  • Very fast heart rate
  • Lung problems, including bronchitis and chronic cough (like a smoker’s cough)
  • Trouble paying attention or thinking clearly
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Clumsiness and poor coordination and balance

How can you get help to quit using marijuana?

Talk to your health care provider. He can help you get treatment to quit. Or contact:

Three Ways Marijuana Can Affect Fertility

Some studies show that marijuana use negatively affects fertility in men and women. Many articles and physicians advise against using marijuana while trying to get pregnant to reduce the risks of infertility. Learn more about the warnings signs of infertility and discover how you can develop healthy habits to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Reviewed by

Anna Klepchukova, MD

1. Ovulation delay

Scientists aren’t sure exactly how THC affects the sexual function of women attempting to get pregnant. THC affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, which controls how your sex hormones interact. Continuous exposure to THC can inhibit the secretion of luteinizing hormone and prolactin from the pituitary gland in males and females. These hormones influence your chances of getting pregnant.

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In women, high THC doses interfere with the menstrual cycle and may delay or prevent ovulation. Cannabinoids inhibit the activity of the HPG axis, meaning that marijuana use decreases the production of several hormones and can inhibit sexual behavior — if your sex drive is down, this can also hinder your efforts to conceive.

Regular smokers may have an elevated risk of not ovulating at all. A 2016 report also suggests marijuana disrupts the menstrual cycle and can lead to anovulatory cycles (cycles without ovulation).

In general, it’s thought that marijuana can affect the production of luteinizing hormone in women. LH regulates testosterone production in men and stimulates female ovulation. When men smoke frequently, they tend to have lower levels of testosterone, and women who smoke frequently have less LH.

In addition to marijuana use, it’s important to examine other causes of late ovulation so you can put yourself in the best position for a successful pregnancy.

2. Lower sperm count

According to the Mayo Clinic, marijuana use can impair a man’s sperm count and ability to reproduce. Other research has suggested that marijuana is bad for men’s fertility.

However, a Harvard study surprisingly refutes those findings and states that there’s no evidence of harmful effects on fertility. In the study, researchers collected blood samples and semen from hundreds of volunteers at the Massachusetts General Hospital fertility clinic. In the study, which ran from 2000 to 2017, men were asked about their marijuana use. The results showed no correlation between marijuana use and male fertility.

Since there isn’t a conclusive determination on the subject, if you have a male partner who smokes, try to discourage him from doing so while you are trying to conceive — especially if his sperm count is low.

3. Deterioration of existing fertility problems

There’s no conclusive evidence that marijuana use causes infertility, but research has found that it can lower sperm count, increase anovulatory cycles, and disrupt the balance of hormones in the body that encourage pregnancy.

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How Marijuana Can Affect Fertility

Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada.

Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Although the link between marijuana and fertility is not straightforward—plenty of marijuana smokers get pregnant and get their partners pregnant—some research has demonstrated that marijuana use can negatively impact you, your partner, or the fertility of both of you.

Female Fertility

Research suggests that marijuana can negatively affect female fertility in the following ways:

  • Decreases libido. Even before intercourse takes place, marijuana use may decreases libido. And if you aren’t feeling in the mood, it’s that much more difficult to get started.
  • Increases the risk of miscarriage. Marijuana use also increases the risk of miscarriage. Marijuana is known to cross the placenta and may pose a risk to the fetus, although the effects of marijuana exposure in the womb are not as well documented as the effects of alcohol and some other drugs.  
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Furthermore, the effects of marijuana on fertility seem to accumulate over time. This means that although teenage girls who smoke marijuana are more likely to get pregnant, by the time a chronic marijuana smoking woman is in her mid-twenties, she may be more likely to experience a delay in getting pregnant.

Male Fertility

Despite the relaxation effects that many people associate with marijuana use, research has shown marijuana has negative effects on the male sexual response.

  • Increases impotence. Cannabis use has been associated with sexual dysfunction, which can also have negative effects on the male ego. If your partner has been impotent, he may be feeling more pressure to have sex to get you pregnant, but be frustrated with his inability to do so. This can lead to misunderstandings between you that make it more difficult to have sex.
  • May lead to premature ejaculation. Marijuana use has been associated with premature ejaculation.
  • May decrease sperm count. A regular smoker of marijuana has a risk of having a lower sperm count.
  • Affects sperm structure and function. Additionally, the sperm produced by marijuana smoking has been associated with abnormal morphology (shape) and motility (its ability to “swim” and fertilize the egg).  

Quit to Prepare for Parenthood

Obviously, if you are both smoking marijuana, you risk increasing the chances of infertility as a couple.

Quitting marijuana can be harder than many long-term marijuana users expect, so you and your partner would be wise to quit as soon as possible, while you still have time to get help before getting pregnant. If either or both parents still use marijuana when the baby arrives, you are increasing the risk that your child may use drugs in the future, and parental drug use is implicated in many difficulties for children and families.

Your family doctor can help you with a referral to a counselor or clinic that can help you both quit. ​Couples counseling, which is offered by many addiction clinics, would be particularly helpful at this time. If you are already engaged in infertility treatment, coming clean about your marijuana could save you a lot of time, money, and heartache, if marijuana is one of the culprits for your difficulties with conception.

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

Bari M, Battista N, Pirazzi V, Maccarrone M. The manifold actions of endocannabinoids on female and male reproductive events. Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2011;16:498-516. doi:10.2741/3701

By Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD
Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD is a psychologist, professor, and Director of the Centre for Health Leadership and Research at Royal Roads University, Canada.

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