Article written by
Shanti RyleContent Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
For some, periods pass with little fuss, but they arrive with cramping, fatigue, bloating, and dozens of other side effects for others. In the world of medical cannabis, THC tampons have emerged as a potential answer to soothing unwanted menstrual pains. But do they work?
Yes and no: while there are no published studies on using cannabis tampons for menstrual pain relief, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that they work. There’s also lots of research studying the anti-inflammatory benefits of THC and CBD, which would suggest their usefulness in easing cramps.
This article gets into the weeds on what the research says about THC and CBD tampons and how they help to relieve period pain.
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What Are THC Tampons and How Do They Work?
THC tampons are tampons infused with cannabis extract, though the name is somewhat misnomer. They’re not really tampons and can’t get you high; instead, they are vaginal suppositories inserted like a tampon without an applicator. THC tampons are typically made with cannabinoids and cocoa butter, hemp oil, and coconut oil, which are safe to insert into the vagina.
The working theory behind cannabis tampons is that they release cannabinoids directly where those with painful periods need them — directly into the body via the vaginal canal’s mucosa. Once it enters the bloodstream, the THC works on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to relieve pain and other unwanted menstrual symptoms.
CBD tampons are another option that offers pain-relieving effects for those unable to access THC-containing products. CBD enters the bloodstream via the vagina and works on the ECS to reduce inflammation in the same method described above.
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How Cannabis Helps Menstrual Pain
Some research suggests that cannabis may help relieve menstrual cramps, but the evidence is still sorely lacking. Cannabis was reportedly first used to treat challenging periods in the nineteenth century when Queen Victoria might have used a weed tincture to soothe her cramps.
Women typically use over-the-counter pain medication to treat painful cramps or premenstrual syndrome (PMS). One OTC medication commonly turned to for the treatment of PMS is ibuprofen, which can be helpful but, for some, can cause GI issues (nausea/vomiting, indigestion, and in some cases even bleeding). As cannabis is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, it’s likely to help with some pain-related symptoms but has fewer adverse side effects than ibuprofen.
Cannabis tampons work the same way as other topicals: entering the bloodstream and acting on the site being targeted locally. Cannabinoids like CBD and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) may also relieve pain similarly to anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen: by inhibiting COX-2 enzymes, which also has the benefit of alleviating THC’s downsides.
CBD also may soothe menstrual-related pain, as women can use the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD to relax muscles in the pelvic region and relieve cramps, headaches, or lower backaches.
A word of warning: inserting anything into the vagina can potentially lead to infection or irritation. Tampons can lead to toxic shock syndrome in rare instances, so be aware of any symptoms after inserting a THC tampon into your vagina.
Where to Buy THC Tampons
Sadly, only a tiny handful of cannabis companies create THC tampons available for purchase. Foria Relief is one such company, with its products only available in California and Colorado.
Patients can find Foria Relief’s THC tampons in their local dispensary. While both California and Colorado have legalized recreational cannabis, obtaining a medical marijuana card to access your medicine at a more affordable cost is worth it.
The market is still devoid of THC or CBD tampons for those outside these two states. Hopefully, emerging research and expanding cannabis legality will make these products available to more patients in need.
The Bottom Line
THC tampons lack enough evidence to say they work definitively, but plentiful anecdotal reports and product reviews point to these suppositories as a promising way to alleviate period pain. For those with severe need and access to them, cannabis tampons are worth a shot.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How Quickly Do THC Tampons Work?
THC tampons typically dissolve and are absorbed into the bloodstream via the vagina within 15-20 minutes of insertion.