Can Smoking Weed Affect Your Chances of Getting Pregnant?

Woman smoking weed

Shane Cotee / EyeEm / Getty Images

Deciding that you're ready for a baby can be exciting, yet nerve wracking. There is so much to look forward to, while at the same time, there is a lot to consider, such as how your current lifestyle may affect your chances of getting pregnant.

If you regularly use cannabis, you may wonder whether smoking weed will have an impact on your ability to conceive. Many of us know that smoking anything while pregnant is a no-go, but there is less readily available information about whether current or prior cannabis use has an impact on getting pregnant in the first place.

What we do know is that it is best to put a stop to smoking weed when you decide to try for a baby, as cannabis can lower your chances of conceiving. Let's break down why it may be time to say goodbye to cannabis while trying to get pregnant.

What Is Cannabis?

Cannabis is the overarching word that refers to the 500 plus chemical substances found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Some of these substances, called cannabinoids, can be used to help you relax or be used to treat certain health conditions.

When people talk about smoking weed, they are usually referring to the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This substance is responsible for the "high" feeling you get from weed.

Is It Safe to Smoke Weed While Trying to Conceive?

It is best to refrain from smoking weed while trying to get pregnant. A study from Oxford University found that women using cannabis were 40% less likely than non-users to become pregnant. It was also found to impact different levels of reproductive hormones tied to ovulation. In animal studies, cannabis has been shown to impact the uterine lining, decreasing the likelihood of an embryo implanting in the uterine wall.

More research is needed on how cannabis affects conception, but from what we know so far, it's best to avoid it. "The current body of data would highly discourage cannabis consumption while trying to conceive," notes Jeff Chen, MD, MBA, a medical doctor and the founder of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative.

What If I Smoke Weed Before Trying to Conceive?

Cannabis can stay in your system for up to 13 days. If you smoke regularly, the best thing to do is to wait for about two weeks after you stop to begin trying to get pregnant.

Why You Should Not Smoke Weed While Trying to Conceive

Smoking weed lowers your chance of getting pregnant and may lead to early pregnancy loss, where the embryo is unable to implant so it cannot survive.

When you do become pregnant, you may not know for two weeks or even longer. Using cannabis during this time could negatively affect the fetus. "THC can affect neurodevelopment of the brain cells and cause other problems," says Kristy June, MD, a practicing physician and medical expert at Bed Bible. This is just one reason why it's best to give up weed use a few weeks prior to trying.

Risks of Smoking Weed While Trying to Conceive

Smoking weed is not recommended while trying to conceive. Here's an in-depth look at how it reduces your chances of getting pregnant and may harm the growing baby if you do.

Makes it Harder to Get Pregnant

When you're trying to have a baby, you want to stack the odds in your favor. Eliminating anything that might make it less likely for you to conceive is important.

There are some things that can make it harder to get pregnant that you can't change, such as advanced age or a medical condition you may face. But you can make healthy choices, like skipping the weed, that help prepare your body for successful conception. "Even if you're perfectly healthy, you don't necessarily get pregnant every time you try," notes Dr. June. "It's best to abstain from anything that will make it harder."

Pregnancy Complications

Studies have linked cannabis use during pregnancy with a greater likelihood of miscarriages, stillbirth, preterm births, and pregnancy complications, including placental abruption. "These newborns have increased risks of lower birth weight, length, and head circumference," notes Dr. Chen. "They are more likely to need NICU admission and have increased risks of physical and neurological abnormalities."

Impaired Cognitive Development

Prenatal cannabis use has been associated with children having greater risks of decreased memory, verbal scores, mental development, and attention. "These children have a greater risk for depression, impulsivity, hyperactivity, psychosis, substance abuse, and delinquency," says Dr. Chen.

When Can I Resume Smoking Weed?

In most cases, you can start smoking weed again after you deliver your baby. Since cannabinoids pass easily through the placenta in amounts that are unsafe for your baby, once you get pregnant, it is important to continue abstaining until you give birth. "Exposure to cannabinoids can impact how baby’s neurotransmitters mature and function," says Dr. Chen.

THC also makes it into breast milk, so it is not currently recommended to smoke weed while breastfeeding. More research is needed to say for sure whether there is any safe amount of cannabis use while breastfeeding. Until we know more, it is best to refrain completely until your baby is fully weaned. "You don't want to risk the possibility of affecting the baby's development," says Dr. June.

Safe Alternatives to Cannabis While Trying to Conceive

If you turn to cannabis for stress relief or relaxation, there are a few other alternatives you can try once you have decided to grow your family.

Meditation

Mindfulness meditation, where you focus completely on the present moment, has been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety and help you relax. Every day, take a few minutes to pause and focus on your breathing. If it's hard for you to remember, or your schedule is jam-packed, consider meditating every morning upon waking or set an alarm to take a break during your day to meditate. There are plenty of apps that offer guided meditations, too, which might make it easier to stick to.

Try to Reduce Your Load

Stress can impact your ability to conceive, so it's important to find another way to decrease your overall stress.

If this is something you struggle with, write down all of your commitments and see if you can find anything to let go of. Maybe you organize a big fundraiser every year, but this year you need to step back or find a partner to help you with the planning.

Many of us just can't let go of our current commitments, though, and if that's you, you can still find ways to reduce your stress. Taking a day to declutter your home and get rid of excess possessions can make it easier to keep your house tidy and stay on top of the laundry, for example.

Yoga

A regular yoga practice can improve your overall well-being. Yoga has been found to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. This does not have to be an advanced or complicated practice. Take a class or watch a video to try some simple stretches and breathing exercises at your own comfort level.

A Word From Verywell

If you are trying to get pregnant, now's the time to give up smoking weed for a while. Smoking weed can make it less likely for you to be able to get pregnant. If you do conceive, smoking when you don't know you are pregnant can potentially harm your baby.

THC can stay in your system for up to 13 days, so once you decide to grow your family it is advisable to wait about two weeks before getting started. In the meantime, try meditation or yoga to help relax. You can also reach out to your healthcare provider for other safe alternatives.

Was this page helpful?
11 Sources
Verywell Family 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.
  1. Mumford SL, Flannagan KS, Radoc JG, et al. Cannabis use while trying to conceive: a prospective cohort study evaluating associations with fecundability, live birth and pregnancy loss. Human Reproduction. 2021;36(5):1405-1415. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deaa355.

  2. Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need to Know. National Institutes of Health.

  3. Navarrete F, García-Gutiérrez MS, Gasparyan A, Austrich-Olivares A, Femenía T, Manzanares J. Cannabis use in pregnant and breastfeeding women: behavioral and neurobiological consequencesFront Psychiatry. 2020;11:586447. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2020.586447.

  4. Huestis MA. Human cannabinoid pharmacokineticsChem Biodivers. 2007;4(8):1770-804. doi: 10.1002/cbdv.200790152.

  5. Corsi DJ, Walsh L, Weiss D, et al. Association between self-reported prenatal cannabis use and maternal, perinatal, and neonatal outcomes. JAMA. 2019;322(2):145. doi: 10.1001/jama.2019.8734.

  6. Wu CS, Jew CP, Lu HC. Lasting impacts of prenatal cannabis exposure and the role of endogenous cannabinoids in the developing brain. Future Neurol. 2011;6(4):459-480.

  7. Thompson R, DeJong K, Lo J. Marijuana use in pregnancy: a review. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey. 2019;74(7):415-428. doi: 10.1097/OGX.0000000000000685.

  8. Cannabis. In: Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). National Library of Medicine (US); 2006.

  9. Mindfulness meditation: A research-proven way to reduce stress. American Psychological Association.

  10. NIH study indicates stress may delay women getting pregnant. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

  11. Bridges L, Sharma M. The efficacy of yoga as a form of treatment for depression. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(4):1017-1028. doi: 10.1177/2156587217715927.