Can Cannabis Help Relieve Menstrual Cramps?

Tina Magrabi
Tina Magrabi - Content Writer

Dec 20 2021 - 4 min read

Science suggests that cannabis may help relieve menstrual cramps and other common women’s health issues. Using cannabis to treat menstrual pain is not a new phenomenon. There were several reports of cannabis use for difficult periods in the nineteenth century, including Queen Victoria, who may have channeled a weed tincture to soothe her menstrual cramps.

Discover how cannabis and CBD may be able to help you have an easier time during your period, whether you have transitory cramps or have been diagnosed with a chronic condition like endometriosis.  

Using Marijuana to Treat Period Cramps

Menstruation is the monthly process when the uterus sheds its lining. As the uterus sheds its lining, the muscular organ contracts, sometimes resulting in painful cramps.

Women often turn to over-the-counter painkillers like Midol to treat painful premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and period symptoms. But there are natural alternatives to painkillers, like yoga, warm baths, and cannabis-based medicines. 

The science on medical marijuana and menstrual pain is emerging, but there is evidence that the plant may help women cope with cramps and other uncomfortable symptoms. 

Can CBD Help Cramps, Too?

CBD may also be able to help ease menstrual cramps. The pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids in full-spectrum CBD oils can relax the muscles in the pelvic region. CBD products may also help relieve other types of period pain, including headaches and lower backaches. 

Marijuana for Women’s Health

Women who experience painful periods, mood swings, hot flashes associated with menopause, and endometriosis may be able to find relief in medical marijuana.

Endometriosis

Up to 10 percent of women will experience the chronic autoimmune disease endometriosis. The condition, often undiagnosed, results in endometrial tissue building up outside the uterus. The resulting pain is severe and can severely impact one’s quality of life. Doctors have commonly prescribed highly addictive opiates for the condition, along with hormone treatment and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

Before resorting to toxic pharmaceutical painkillers, increasing numbers of women turn to targeted cannabis and CBD products explicitly designed to address female pelvic pain, such as those from Foria Wellness

Both THC and CBD may help alleviate chronic pain and inflammation associated with endometriosis. A study published in eLife titled “Disease-modifying effects of natural delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol 1 in endometriosis-associated pain” suggests that cannabis and THC may reduce the severity of endometrial tissue growth, at least in mice. 

A recent cohort study with people shows that “Cannabis appears to be effective for pelvic pain, gastrointestinal issues, and mood, with effectiveness differing based on [the] method of ingestion.” Interestingly, pain symptoms showed more significant improvement with inhaling cannabis, while mood and gastrointestinal issues showed more significant improvement with oral forms of ingestion (e.g., tinctures, edibles). Clinical trials are urgently required.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is an inflammatory disorder that can cause chronic painful periods. Hormone imbalances, insulin resistance, and obesity are often linked to PCOS, affecting approximately 10 percent of women. Limited research is available, but some studies have suggested that cannabinoids like CBD and THC could positively affect PCOS.  

Uterine Fibroids 

Uterine fibroids are benign (non-cancerous) growths of the uterus. Women in their childbearing years are more frequently diagnosed with uterine fibroids than those who have been through menopause. High estrogen levels are believed to cause fibroids in some women, but the precise cause is often unknown. While fibroids are benign, they can be very painful. 

Direct research on cannabis and uterine fibroids is lacking, but some researchers have explored the effects of marijuana on estrogen. Research published in theYale Journal of Biology and Medicine indicates that marijuana use may lower estrogen levels, making fibroids less likely to develop if high levels of this female hormone are the culprit. Beyond hormones, the overall ability of cannabis to decrease pain could extend to women with discomfort from uterine fibroids. 

Gynecological Cancer

Gynecological cancers include uterine, cervical, ovarian, and endometrial cancers. There is little available research about the potential benefits of medical marijuana for gynecological cancers. However, some recent studies have revealed that cannabis may be an alternative treatment option for other types of cancer. The tumor-shrinking abilities of cannabis may also prove helpful to women with malignant ovarian cysts, but deeper research is needed.  

Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is a chronic bladder condition that causes pain in the bladder region. The chronic condition is caused by inflamed bladder walls, leading to other problems such as scarring. Again, cannabis has shown in many studies to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help prevent further damage to the bladder for women with IC. Furthermore, participants in some clinical studies reported that cannabis was beneficial for their IC and caused minimal side effects.     

Menopause 

Common symptoms of menopause, like body aches and insomnia, may improve with medical marijuana use. Medical cannabis products have the potential to help lessen the impact of mood swings connected to declining estrogen levels during menopause. When using medical cannabis products for mood swings associated with menopause, make careful application and adjustment of dosage for best effects and do not combine with some classes and types of antidepressants

Best Strains for Period Cramps

Some women have reported that these cannabis strains (cultivars) help with PMS symptoms and menstrual cramps:

    • Super Lemon Haze
    • Lavender
    • Blue Dream
    • Sour Diesel
    • Purple Urkle
    • Jet Fuel
    • Hawaiian Snow
    • Space Queen
    • Romulan
    • Skywalker OG
    • Johnny’s Tonic
    • Mr. Nice
    • Pink Kush

Other cannabis products may also benefit women’s health and have been specifically designed with women in mind. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can smoking weed stop your period?

There is limited evidence on how using cannabis may affect the menstrual cycle. Some studies have suggested that weed can delay or inhibit ovulation, while others have found no correlation between menstrual problems and marijuana use.  

Why does weed help with menstrual cramps?

Cannabis can help period pain thanks to the plant’s well-documented pain-relieving properties. In addition, the use of cannabis has been associated with a reduction in anxiety, which may provide indirect pain relief for menstruating women. That is, our muscles tense up when we’re anxious and loosen up when we’re relaxed. 

Does smoking weed for the first time affect your period?

Some scientific and anecdotal evidence has indicated that using weed may disrupt female hormones, which can, in turn, affect the period. However, there is no clear evidence that smoking weed for the first time will impact menstruation. 

Schedule an appointment in our online clinic to benefit from the many medical uses of marijuana. The doctors at Leafwell are here to guide you step by step as you apply for a medical marijuana card

Written by
Tina Magrabi
Tina Magrabi

Tina Magrabi is a writer and editor specializing in holistic health. She has written hundreds of articles for Weedmaps where she spearheaded the Ailments series on cannabis medicine. In addition, she has written extensively for the women's health blog, SafeBirthProject, as well as print publications including Destinations Magazine and Vero's Voice. Tina is a Yale University alumna and certified yoga instructor with a passion for the outdoors.

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