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Will using cannabis make birth control less effective?

Dr. Nancy Shannon

Medically reviewed by Dr. Nancy Shannon, MD, PhD on April 20, 2020

Unfortunately, there have been no scientific studies that completely answer the question of whether cannabis or its components (like CBD and THC) make birth control pills, patches, or rings less effective. This may be because “medical marijuana” has only been legalized on a state-by-state basis beginning in 1999 and as of yet not all states are on board. Additionally,  cannabis products containing THC are illegal federally and in most states. Regulations around CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, vary by state.

In the limited research that has been done, CBD (or cannabidiol) did not appear to stimulate the estrogen receptors on cells, nor block the effects of estrogen on those receptors, which indicates that it’s unlikely to interfere with how estrogen in birth control affects the body. Moreover, CBD slows down enzymes that break down the hormones in birth control. This argues that, if anything, the birth control hormones may be in the body longer and at higher concentrations. Putting all this together, we can definitely say that CBD will not make birth control less effective.

Anecdotally, I haven’t heard or read about women experiencing unplanned pregnancies while using cannabis products and taking hormonal birth control.

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