Canadian study shows cannabis use poses no harmful effects on in vitro fertilization

Results indicate comparable IVF outcomes between users and non-users of cannabis.

Researchers established that cannabis use did not affect in vitro fertilization results among patients in a Toronto fertility clinic. Lars Neumann/Getty Images

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A Canadian study provides a measure of “reassurance” for couples who use cannabis and want to have a child through in vitro fertilization.

This process commonly called IVF for shorthand is a form of assisted reproductive technology.

To explain, IVF involves the fertilization of a female egg with a male sperm in a laboratory, which is later implanted in the mother’s uterus.

A group of Canadian researchers established that cannabis use does not affect IVF results.

“The results may provide some reassurance for the lack of any demonstrable detrimental effects of cannabis consumption on IVF outcomes,” the study concluded.

The paper is titled “The relationship between cannabis use and IVF outcome—a cohort study”.

It was published online on September 7, 2021 by the Journal of Cannabis Research.

The study was done by researchers Eden Har-Gil, Ayala Heled, Marjorie Dixon, Abdul Munaf Sultan Ahamed, and Yaakov Bentov.

The paper indicated that Bentov, a physician, is connected with the Toronto-based Anova Fertility and Reproductive Health clinic, where the study was done.

The fertility specialist and gynaecologist is also connected with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at McMaster University, and the Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.

When sought by CannCentral about the paper, Bentov explained that the work “compared all the outcome parameters between IVF patients that were either using cannabis or not since it became legal in Canada”.

“We compared the quality of the sperm, eggs and embryos, as well as the rate of pregnancy, and were not able to show any detrimental effect of using cannabis on any of the outcome measures,” Bentov also said.

Cannabis became legal for recreational use in October 2018.

The paper noted that legalization is “leading to an inevitable increase in its popularity especially among men and women of reproductive age”.

“A similar trend was also evidenced among couples trying to conceive and pregnant women,” the authors wrote.

The study included all patients that completed oocyte retrieval and embryo transfer at the Anova centre since the clinic opened in September 2016 and until September 2019. An oocyte is an immature female egg.

The research involved 722 patients of which 68 or 9.4 percent were cannabis users.

In detail, the users were “most defined as light users”, meaning they consume cannabis up to three times a week.

“The results of the study show similar implantation rate (40.74% vs. 41.13%) and ongoing pregnancy rate (35.2% vs. 29.1%) between the users and non-users, respectively,” the study’s abstract summarized.

Moreover, “No significant difference between users and non-users in any of the other analyzed outcomes could be detected.”

In correspondence with CannCentral, Bentov explained that the study “only included couples in which there was a male and a female using their own gametes (sperm and eggs)”.

“In most of the couples, the males were the users and either males or females users were defined as light users,” Bentov stated.

CannCentral asked about how the study may be relevant to people who consume a lot of cannabis.

The paper considers “heavy use” as a consumption rate of more than three times a week.

“The study was too small to look at dose effects or in other words – compare light to heavy users,” Bentov said.

Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter at @carlitopablo

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