Pot-ential Pregnancy Preventer?

Can marijuana interfere with pregnacy?
Can marijuana interfere with pregnancy? 

Recreational cannabis is picking up steam…and legal rights. On Election Day, November 3, 2020, New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, and Montana joined the eleven other states where pot is legal to bring our national total up to fifteen. It appears to be only a matter of time until recreational marijuana will be legal throughout the United States. As a pelvic floor physical therapist with a one track mind, I am curious about how the inevitable changes will converge with science and medicine, especially in the arena of women’s health and fertility.

A recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) study led by Dr. Sunni Mumford (published on January 11, 2021) revealed that women who recreationally use cannabis products such as marijuana or hashish may experience greater challenges conceiving a child compared to women who do not use marijuana. The study focused on women who had previously experienced one or two miscarriages. 

The statistics that emerged from their research is as follows:

  • Women who had used cannabis within several weeks prior to or while trying to conceive were 41% less likely to conceive than non-users
  • 42% of active users became pregnant during the study vs. 66% of non-users
  • Miscarriage rates were relatively similar between the two groups

Another noteworthy difference between the two groups involves the reproductive hormones associated with ovulation. Cannabis users had elevated levels of luteinizing hormone. Also, the researchers suggested that cannabis usage may negatively impact the uterine lining, which could interfere with successful embryo implantation. 

Although the researchers acknowledged the small sample size in the study, the statistics are interesting enough to give pause until further research can be conducted. Furthermore, considering that it takes two to tango, it would be fascinating to explore whether or not a partner’s usage of cannabis affects fertility rates, a piece of the puzzle that was not addressed in Mumford’s research. 

Until further research can verify and delve deeper into this topic, feel free to digest and incorporate this information into your life as you see fit. May everyone, especially women trying to conceive, find healthy outlets to relax, revitalize, and enjoy themselves.


“Can We Please Pull Over For a Rest Stop?”

Everyone has that friend who, when travelling together, is always asking to pull over for a rest stop, chalking it up to their “small bladder.” You know exactly who I’m talking about. Well, believe it or not, it might not be their fault. It could just be their PIEZO2 gene doing exactly what it was designed to do.

When it comes to the age old question of nature vs. nurture, nature seems to be stealing the spotlight once again. Scientists have discovered that genetics play a major role in previously unidentified territory. 

But first, a bit of background. The kidneys filter and send excess water to the circulatory system while sending waste to the bladder through the ureters in the form of urine. The bladder wall, which contains the detrusor muscle, is lined with smooth muscle which fills like a balloon. The bladder’s stretch receptors send messages to the brain when activated by the full bladder telling you “it’s time to go.” This is a type of interoception, or awareness of what is happening within the body.  

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health led by Dr. Ardem Patapoutian discovered that the PIEZO2 gene is involved with at least two different types of cells associated with bladder filling sensation. It contains instructions which make proteins that are activated when the detrusor muscle cells are stretched. Individuals born with a deficiency in this gene may have difficulty sensing when their bladder is full. In fact, in 2015, researchers realized that many individuals who demonstrated a mutation in this gene reported pediatric toileting issues, frequent urinary tract infections, and other urinary issues of various sorts (ex. three participants reported voiding only 1-2x/day. Normal urinary patterns involve voiding approximately 6x/day).

The implications of this study reinforce what pelvic floor therapists routinely address, including the value in keeping a bladder diary. Tracking fluid intake and urine output is often an enlightening, eye-opening experience for most people. It is normal to void every 2.5-3 hours. Keeping track of how frequently you urinate could reveal urinary frequency, or on the opposite end if the spectrum, urinary retention. Individuals with the mutated gene stand to benefit from forcing themselves to void at scheduled intervals rather than relying on their desensitized receptors.

Anyone who experiences urinary dysfunction (ex. urinary frequency, retention, incontinence, and or urgency) stands to benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy. Aside from addressing food and fluid intake, urination patterns, and avoidance of bladder irritants, pelvic floor physical therapy can address any underlying musculoskeletal dysfunction which may be contributing to urinary dysfunction. If you or someone that you know is nodding their head silently while reading this blog, please contact us at Revitalize Physical Therapy. It would be an honor to help you along your healing journey.