Cannabis for menstrual pain

When it comes to medical benefits, cannabis doesn’t really get the credit it deserves. It’s given to patients with cancer who are looking to control nausea and vomiting due to treatment, and more recently it’s used to stop seizures in their tracks and give relief from Parkinson’s and other debilitating diseases. But what about for relief from dysmenorrhea, or painful periods? The research community acknowledges that there hasn’t been a ton of research done to show the benefits or costs of treating painful periods with cannabis, but the information that is out there shows an interesting twist.

Study Shows Cannabis Consumption May Prove Beneficial During Menstrual Cycle

One study compared women who smoked cigarettes and cannabis with women who just smoked cigarettes. The 2018 study, published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, found that the women who smoked cannabis and cigarettes had a shorter luteal phase, by an average of 5 days, of their cycle than women who only smoked cigarettes. (1)

The Human Female Menstrual Cycle
Image credit #142482593 © Nikita Melnikov – Dreamstime.com (click to enlarge)

A Quick Overview of the Female Menstrual Cycle

  • Menstruation: During menstruation, the lining of the uterus sheds. A fertilized egg does not attach itself to the uterine lining, meaning the female is not pregnant.
  • Follicular phase: The follicular phase overlaps with menstruation by a few days. During this phase, follicles of the ovaries grow and the eggs mature.
  • Ovulation: During ovulation, mature eggs are released from the ovary. Sometimes it’ll feel like a little pinch on the woman’s side
  • Luteal phase: when the egg is in motion, traveling down the fallopian tube (3)

For women who aren’t trying to start a family, a shorter luteal phase isn’t a big deal. For those who are, however, it can mean the difference between conceiving, not conceiving, and miscarrying. When the egg starts to move down the fallopian tube, the body is signaled to start building up the uterine lining to give a fertilized egg a safe and nutritious place to implant. With a shorter luteal phase, the uterine lining doesn’t have as long to build a substantial foundation for the fertilized egg to attach to, which could lead to miscarriages and other failed pregnancy attempts.

More females are turning to cannabis to reduce painful symptoms from menstruation. Image by GRAV – Unsplash INC; Unsplash.com

While there are few official studies on what cannabis does to a woman’s body during menstruation, there are an abundance of first person testimonials about how cannabis can decrease or eradicate the pain from a woman’s period entirely. “The first and second days of my period were the absolute worst,” says a source, who wishes to remain anonymous. “As soon as I felt the first signs of my period coming, I knew to just get my stuff and go home because the day was over. I would throw up, pass out, and curl up in a ball looking for any type of relief.”

As she got older, she understood a little more about how to treat her body in preparation for her period but once she hit her 30’s she realized something: “cannabis would completely erase my cramps. I would smoke a little the first night of my period, and not only would it help me sleep, I would very rarely have to smoke any more that week. I used to take a bunch of over the counter and prescription drugs and, not only is cannabis natural, but I just had to ingest it once and it worked better than all that other stuff combined.”

Believe it or not, the human body comes equipped with a way to produce its own cannabinol enzymes and receptors. The body’s Endocannabinoid System is believed to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, regulate body temperature, monitor hunger, and digestion among other things. These enzymes and receptors are so instrumental to our bodies’ equilibrium that ailments like migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome are believed to be the result of a deficient Endocannabinoid System. Some scientists even believe that we have more cannabinoid receptors in our bodies than any other receptors.(4)

In conclusion, the lack of substantial research when it comes to cannabis and the female body/reproductive system is disheartening. However with states everywhere legalizing and legitimizing cannabis as a way to treat different human pains and conditions, there are bound to be more scientists willing to take up the task. As for your own preferences when it comes to cannabis consumption, the choice is up to you.

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References:

  1. Lammert, S., Harrison, K., Tosun, N., & Allen, S. (2018). Menstrual Cycle in Women Who Co-use Marijuana and Tobacco. Journal of addiction medicine, 12(3), 207–211. https://doi.org/10.1097/ADM.0000000000000387
  2. Chisholm, A. (2020, July 6). Can Medical Marijuana Really Help Your Menstrual Cramps? Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/marijuana-for-menstrual-cramps-4021137
  3. Watson, S. (2018, August 20). All About the Luteal Phase of the Menstrual Cycle. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/luteal-phase
  4. Dellwo, A. (2020, February 10). What Is the Endocannabinoid System? Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-the-endocannabinoid-system-4171855
  5. Lichterman, G. (2019, December 28). Can marijuana affect your menstrual cycle? Hormonology. https://www.myhormonology.com/marijuana-and-your-menstrual-cycle/

Karly Glass
Author: Karly Glass

Karly Glass, a graduate of Texas A&M University in College Station, writes about lifestyle, recreation, and pain relief in the 21st century. She lives in Bexar County, Texas with her two dogs.

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