Article by Meredith Fisher–Corn, Growth Op
Whether or not your healthcare providers recommend medical cannabis, they need to know if you use cannabis.
Only when clinicians are fully informed about a patient’s medical history, current medical issues, current medication regimen, and other aspects of a patient’s health, can they effectively advise a patient. A personalized discussion about cannabis therapy is warranted; therapeutic goals, level of efficacy, potential side effects, drug interactions, and toxicities all need to be addressed.
In the second part of the series, Meredith Fisher-Corn, MD, recommends questions one must ask their healthcare provider when it comes to cannabis.
Is it safe to use (medical or recreational) cannabis during pregnancy or breastfeeding?
There are risks associated with cannabis use during pregnancy. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an important part in the maintenance and regulation of early pregnancy, and the administration of cannabis could affect the health of the pregnancy as well as the health of the fetus. Cannabis may negatively impact the functions and health of the placenta. For example, one study found that cannabis use during pregnancy altered uterine blood flow, and reduced placental circulation. In addition to affecting the placenta, cannabis crosses the placenta and directly affects the fetus. THC, for example, crosses the placenta, enters the fetus’s bloodstream and is distributed to the brain and fat of the fetus. The THC within the fetus could, in turn, impact the development of the fetal endocannabinoid system.
According to animal research, the endocannabinoid system is detectable from the early stages of embryonic development and has been found to play a significant role in brain development. In addition, prenatal THC exposure can negatively impact the maturation of several different neurotransmitter systems in some regions of the brain. Furthermore, according to an article published in the August 2020 edition of Birth Defects Research, there does appear to be an increased risk of congenital anomalies (birth defects), particularly gastroschisis, a condition in which the intestines protrude through a hole in the abdominal wall, in babies who had been exposed to cannabinoids prenatally.
Scientific evidence suggests that the components of cannabis accumulate in the breast milk of breastfeeding mothers who smoke cannabis. In fact, the results of a study conducted by Perez-Reyes et al. indicated that the concentration of THC in breast milk of humans may be up to eight-fold higher than that found in maternal blood. The results of another scientific study suggest that cannabis exposure from breastmilk during the first month of life appeared to be associated with a decrease in infant motor development at one year of age.
Of note, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada states, “Given what we know about the short- and long-term effects of cannabis on fetuses and babies, it is safest for women to avoid using cannabis while pregnant and breastfeeding.”
What are the effects of cannabis use on female sexual function?
According to a study published in 2020, an increased frequency of cannabis use is associated with improved sexual function among females. (i.e. — sexual desire increased, arousal increased, and sexual satisfaction increased.)