Recreational marijuana is legal in 11 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., but there are still many gray areas when it comes to the health effects of using cannabis. Research is still being done on marijuana secondhand smoke as well as the benefits and risks of trendy products like CBD. However, there have been many studies that have shown marijuana can interfere with some medications.
Almost 13% of women age 15-49 are currently using birth control pills for contraception, while more than 10% use long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s no surprise, therefore, that many women would be concerned about the risks associated with mixing marijuana with birth control.
While there have been studies on marijuana use and fertility, there is limited research on the interaction of marijuana and birth control. Despite this, many birth control brands come with warnings that there could be adverse effects when their pill or patch is combined with marijuana.
Marijuana may have effects that counteract estrogen, potentially making estrogen-based birth control pills — as well as patches, injections and rings — less effective. However, there’s no data to suggest that marijuana decreases the effectiveness of birth control.
Certain hormone-based contraception also comes with a warning that it can theoretically decrease the elimination of marijuana from the body, meaning the effects of marijuana could be more severe or last longer.
Cardiovascular issues are also a concern for combining marijuana and contraceptives. Cigarette smoking already increases the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects from oral contraceptive use, and smoking marijuana could have a similar effect.
Researchers are also investigating the effect of marijuana on blood pressure, with some linking cannabis to higher blood pressure but others finding CBD decreases blood pressure. Birth control pills, patches and IUDs can all increase blood pressure, risk of blood-clotting problems and other heart issues.
The lack of research on how marijuana affects the health of women, in particular, is one reason more and more women are being inspired to dive into the fields of marijuana research and law as well as becoming pioneers in the marijuana industry.