There’s no quick answer to the question of how cannabis interacts with birth control. While research around the connection between the two is in the works, it’s too early to draw any firm conclusions.
That said, cannabis and birth control each produce effects on their own that could potentially be concerning when you mix them.
Again, there’s no real research available to go on that looks at birth control and cannabis together. Research on the potential health risks of each individually, well, that’s another story.
Hormonal birth control raises the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke and can increase blood pressure. It’s the main reason why smoking and birth control don’t mix.
Smoking cannabis may produce similar effects as nicotine, which could raise the risk for heart-related effects when used with birth control.
THC, one of the main psychoactive compounds in cannabis, also raises blood pressure and can increase your heart rate. If you have a heart condition, this effect can be a problem, and using hormonal birth control at the same time could worsen the effects.
THC also appears to affect estrogen, according to some research, including a
This means that using cannabis and birth control could heighten the effects of the cannabis — good and bad — like euphoria, sedation, anxiety, and slowed reaction time. THC may hang around in your body longer and produce more severe effects.
All that said, not all chemicals in cannabis have this effect, so the type of cannabis product you use matters (more on this in a moment).
There’s currently no evidence to suggest that cannabis decreases the effectiveness of birth control.
While a lack of evidence doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, given how common both cannabis and birth control are, experts likely would ha e picked up on this if it were a concern.
CBD is the other main cannabinoid in cannabis that offers therapeutic effects without the intoxicating ones.
Unlike THC, which can increase blood pressure and heart rate in addition to affecting heart rhythm, CBD appears to have the opposite effect. It may actually lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improve blood flow and heart function by widening the arteries and reducing inflammation.
Research on CBD and birth control is scarce, but researchers are working on it.
In fact, there’s a clinical trial in the recruitment stage sponsored by the Oregon Health and Science University in collaboration with Society of Family Planning. The study will explore the interaction between CBD and hormonal birth control, including how it impacts effectiveness and side effects.
There just isn’t enough research available yet to know for sure how cannabis might affect your birth control. Like any other drug, there’s always some risk of side effects and interactions. If you’re concerned, keep your eye on the research and consider talking with your healthcare team to help you weigh potential risks based on your personal medical history.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.