There’s a lot of evidence supporting the multitude of therapeutic uses of CBD. There’s even a FDA-approved CBD medication, Epidiolex, for epilepsy. But there’s also uncertainty surrounding long-term effects of CBD use, as well as the impact of consumption in conjunction with other supplements and medications. And when it comes to the interaction between CBD and birth control, there’s still plenty we don’t know. So what’s definitive?
What is CBD?
CBD or cannabidiol is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid, or chemical compound, found in the cannabis plant.
Usage/Potential Side Effects
CBD can be used to treat anxiety and manage pain, amongst innumerable other ailments—from seizures to arthritis, to so much more. But unlike THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, you won’t feel intoxicated when consuming CBD. The WHO (World Health Organization) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence concluded that, in its pure state, “cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.” You could, however, experience dry mouth, fatigue or diarrhea when using CBD, and in some rare cases, it has been thought to cause liver damage.
According to available data —which is minimal — there could be adverse effects with the coadministration of CBD and certain birth controls. Specifically, contraceptives containing estrogen or Ethinyl estradiol, (synthetic estrogen) which includes most birth controls, may have some adverse effects when used with CBD.
The interaction between CBD and estrogen could theoretically decrease the effectiveness of the contraception, decrease the elimination of cannabis from the body, and cause drowsiness, as well as breakthrough bleeding.
Progesterone-only contraception, such as the Depo-Provera shot, may be a more effective option when consuming CBD.
The decreased efficacy of birth control in combination with CBD could be exacerbated by using tobacco products. This is keeping in mind that the dual usage of contraception with tobacco in itself has proven to decrease efficacy of the former, as well as increasing the risk of a number of health issues.
Possibility vs. Likelihood
It’s worth noting that, while examining the warning labels of contraceptives, you’ll find exhaustive lists of possible negative side effects. This includes everything from bleeding gums to ocular discomfort to sun sensitivity. The popular pill-form contraceptive Yaz warns “Keep out of the sun. […] Do not use sun lamps or tanning beds/booths”. Does everyone experience these negative reactions? No. Do most users experience negative reactions? No. But, for good reason, these warnings must exist.
Currently, there isn’t enough information to make a definitive statement. There are some isolated studies, but nothing is conclusive yet. While current evidence suggests that the use of CBD with birth control decreases the contraceptive’s performance, there’s no information on how prevalent this effect is. If the potency is decreased by .05%, that’s a big difference from a decrease of 20%. We don’t have the answer yet. But it is advised that if you’re a regular user of CBD, you should either use a progesterone-only contraceptive and/or use condoms.