Menstruation is a fundamental reality of life, so it is time to talk about it. Every woman you know who is post-puberty and pre-menopause bleeds from her vagina every month.
So, being squeamish about this subject is ludicrous and potentially harmful. Millions of women worldwide suffer in silence as they go through the agony of period pain.
You heard right—agony. Menstrual cramps are not just discomfort, irritability, and aches; they can mean severe pain. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, painful menstruation affects the lives of one in five women. Yet, not many medical researchers take it seriously enough, given the little research on it.
A top expert in gynecological pain at NorthShore University Health System, Dr. Frank Tu, does not hide his dismay that most physicians prescribe OTC painkillers like ibuprofen to deal with period pain.
For him, this is not good enough. Why? His patients describe the pain as "almost as bad as having a heart attack." Other patients draw similarities between period pain and slipped discs pain-wise. These give you a hint of how bad menstrual cramps can be.
So, what causes them? The two leading causes of period pain are endometriosis and primary dysmenorrhea. The latter typically affects women just getting into puberty with abnormal uterine contractions due to hormonal imbalance, noted to be the common cause.
The hormone in question is prostaglandin, which is created when the uterine lining breaks down during menstruation. The thicker the uterine lining, the higher the amounts of prostaglandins released.
The other potential cause of menstrual cramps—endometriosis—happens when cells that should ideally line the uterus grow in the wrong places, e.g., the ovaries and fallopian tubes. When they shed, they can cause intense pain.
This tissue can also grow in the bladder, intestines, and, in rare cases, the lungs and even the brain! Typically, the body responds by attempting to cover up such lesions with scar tissue, leading to severe menstrual cramps.
It can be difficult to distinguish between endometriosis and primary dysmenorrhea because both conditions sometimes co-occur. Indeed, it is estimated that 20% of women have dysmenorrhea, while around 10% have endometriosis.
Moreover, endometriosis is not an easy diagnosis and can take up to 10 years to get an accurate diagnosis.
Other known causes of period pain are:
- Fibroids: Muscle cells that grow within the womb and often cause heavy and painful periods.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease is an inflammation of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and womb by bacteria, causing them to inflame.
- Adenomyosis: when tissue that should ideally line the uterus grows inside the muscular womb wall, causing pain periods.
- Contraceptive devices: the intrauterine device (IUD) can sometimes cause painful periods, especially in the initial stages of use.
Doctors do not clearly understand why some women suffer more than others, leading to speculation that genetics may be a factor.
Despite the staggering number of women who suffer from severe period pains every month, there are limited remedies. For both conditions, patients can use painkillers like ibuprofen to dull the pain or contraceptive pills to reduce blood flow during menstruation.
Surgery can be done to remove the extra tissue with serious side effects like infertility. If less invasive options do not yield the desired results, hysterectomy is also an option.
However, some medical experts think it is far too "over the top" for most women, and even then, there is no guarantee the pain will end permanently.
Period pain may not be life-threatening, but it is a painful condition that can interfere with the quality of life. Moreover, the existing treatment options are far from ideal.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has made a name for itself recently thanks to its all-curing properties. Even though cannabis research is still in its early stages, existing studies suggest cannabinoids may be beneficial.
For instance, a growing body of research suggests that CBD has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.
Its painkilling and anti-inflammatory properties have made it a popular remedy for muscle recovery in sports.
Research is ongoing to understand the full extent of CBD's health benefits, so who is to say that it may not help manage period pains?
Ways to try CBD for period pain relief
One of the advantages of CBD is its versatility. After extraction from cannabis plant matter, it can be infused into practically anything. As a result, there are many ways of using CBD to help with wide-ranging health conditions.
CBD comes in various forms: oils and tinctures, creams and lotions, edibles, and vapes. Depending on your reason for taking CBD, here are some of the top methods you can take it.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and is porous. This essentially means what you put on it is as significant as what you put in your body.
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health investigated the skin's absorption rates of contaminants in drinking water. It was discovered that the skin absorbed roughly 64% of the total pollutant load.
What we put on our skin enters our bodies. CBD can penetrate the skin, but unlike other forms of CBD products, it will not enter the bloodstream. The skin has many cannabinoid receptors, and applying CBD topically stimulates the endocannabinoid system via those receptors.
Once inside the skin, it interacts with cannabinoid receptors, providing relief from pain and inflammation.
Topical CBD can help relieve pain in the abdomen, groin, and lower back during menstruation since it works directly on the affected area.
Our Relief Cream packs 500mg of premium hemp CBD and potent botanicals like menthol, eucalyptus, and wintergreen oil to help recover sore muscles and provide quick cooling relief. It is made with premium US-grown CBD and is medically formulated to eliminate aches and pains quickly.
Adding tincture drops to your drinks
Most people use the terms "tinctures" and "oils" interchangeably. However, these two are different primarily in their carrier element. CBD tinctures use high-proof alcohol, while CBD oils use a variety of oils like MCT, coconut, and hemp oil.
Even though they are both taken sublingually, tinctures are faster-acting than oils because they have a higher bioavailability. A carrier element like MCT oil can increase the bioavailability of CBD because it has shorter fat chains than other oil types (e.g., hemp or coconut).
FOCL's Premium CBD Drops may help you get relief from period pain and other sources of discomfort. Our CBD oil is made with premium homegrown broad or full spectrum CBD to ensure it does not have unwanted pesticide or herbicide residues. The carrier element—MCT oil—increases bioavailability in addition to supporting brain and memory function.
Add a few drops of this CBD oil to your morning cup of coffee to help with cramps by reducing inflammation. It comes in five delicious natural flavors with no grassy aftertaste to make it a joy to use!
Add CBD to a warm bath
Conventional oils do not mix well with water, so if you plan to add CBD to your water bath, go for liposomal CBD oil. These are designed for use with water or beverages and are meant to be taken quickly.
Compared to regular oil tinctures, which can take 20-30 minutes before the effects kick in, liposomal CBD gets going in 5-7 minutes, and the effects can last roughly 5 hours.
Derived from the Greek words lipos (fat) and soma (body), liposomes are tiny microscopic spheres that enclose a nutrient or drug and aid in its absorption. They are both water and fat soluble and made from phospholipid material similar to cell membranes. Phospholipids are known to boost drug absorption or prevent drugs from being broken down in the gut.
The liposomal delivery method improves the bioavailability of medicines and substances. Hence, it supports the movement of CBD into cells and tissues, thus making CBD users get the most out of their products.
Baked in edibles
Cannabis edibles are beverages and foods mixed with cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Typical baked CBD edibles include cakes, cookies, muffins, brownies, and banana bread. You can make a range of edibles with CBD to enjoy this cannabis compound in more familiar territories.
Cannabis-infused foods have the same nutritional content as hemp seed or oil. Hemp contains high-quality protein, including edestin, albumin, and essential amino acids. In addition to pain and inflammation relief, CBD edibles have essential fatty acids that may help reduce cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health.
As a suppository
CBD suppositories are objects inserted into the vagina to dissolve, releasing CBD oil which is absorbed into your body. They are super helpful in managing period pain because they allow CBD to be absorbed straight into the circulatory system rather than via the GI tract.
This reduces CBD loss through the "first-pass" metabolism and ensures you get higher quantities of CBD in your system.
As the name suggests, CBD tampons are tampons coated with CBD in a carrier element like cocoa butter. Regular tampons treated with CBD drops can also serve the same function.
The intention of using CBD in menstrual products is to alleviate cramping. There is, however, no published evidence on the efficacy of CBD for period cramps. Furthermore, people respond differently to CBD. Some individuals find it useful and therapeutic, while others do not.
It is theorized that when used vaginally, CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the vaginal membrane. These receptors are a vital component of the endocannabinoid system, a signaling system that regulates numerous physiological functions ranging from sleep and appetite to mood, inflammation, and pain.
CBD tampons may help the cannabinoid's localized activity and alleviate inflammation caused by uterine contractions that cause period pains. However, with minimal studies on vaginal cannabinoid receptors, it is unclear whether these assertions are valid.
In a lube
CBD is used for everything, it appears, including having sex. So, do CBD-infused lubricants confer any sexual benefits?
CBD is known to reduce inflammation, enhance blood circulation, and help relax muscles, making CBD-infused lubes a viable choice for women who experience pain when having sex.
According to sex therapist Diana Urman, CBD lubricants may improve arousal and sensitivity to touch, but they are not proven to get you in the sex mood. It might be taken before sex to help you "get ready faster" because it relaxes the muscles and increases blood flow.
Best CBD for menstrual cramps
Dr. Kecia Gaither, a board-certified physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology, recommends consulting a medical professional before using CBD-infused lubricants, especially if you are on other medications.
She advises women to examine a CBD lubricant's contents and avoid those with artificial scents or chemicals. Oil-based lubes may weaken latex, rendering condoms less effective, so opt for water-based lubricants.
Alcohols (or anything that ends with "-ol") can be harmful, causing irritation and dryness with time. Also, glycerin and certain sugars may increase the risk of infection.
Like with all CBD products, be careful about the brand or site from where you get your CBD. Dr. Michael Ingber, a urogynecologist, recommends CBD lubes from reputable organizations.
With this in mind, here are some of the best CBD products you can use for menstrual cramps.
CBD gummies for menstrual cramps
It is worth noting that there are no studies on the use of CBD to manage PMS. Nevertheless, it has anti-inflammatory and painkilling properties that are well-established in research studies, hence its use in chronic pain problems.
There is anecdotal evidence that after three months of regular usage, patients who use high enough doses of CBD for chronic pain, including PMS symptoms and menstrual cramps, report reduced pain and other symptoms.
Depending on the nature of your pain, you may opt for fast or slow-release CBD products. The latter is ideal for intense, longer-lasting period pains. In this case, oral CBD is the best. Our Premium CBD Gummies with full or broad spectrum CBD and non-GMO natural ingredients come in three tasty flavors to be fun to chew even as they help you relax and be pain-free.
How to take CBD oil for menstrual cramps
CBD oil is best taken sublingually. This method allows for faster absorption of the active ingredients into your system. Higher bioavailability means the effects kick in much quicker, making you feel better faster.
You can also add CBD oil to your favorite drinks and foods. So, if you are a coffee person, add a few drops of CBD oil to your morning or evening cup of coffee or tea. This applies to other beverages as well.
How much CBD should I take for menstrual cramps?
The best practice is to start "low and slow" and gradually increase the dosage if you do not feel better soon enough. Generally, it is recommended that you space out the doses by eight hours. So, do not go popping gummy after gummy if you do not experience the effects.
Keep in mind that CBD reacts differently depending on the individual. The precise bioavailability of oral CBD is not precisely known. A 2009 paper indicated it ranges between 4 and 20%. This implies if you take 100mg of CBD, only 20mg may end up in your blood. Since most CBD products contain less than 25mg of CBD, you will likely end up with even less.
Does CBD affect menstrual cycle?
CBD does not affect the menstrual cycle; you will still have periods like you usually do. However, being a relaxant, an analgesic, and an anti-inflammatory agent, it may help reduce period cramps and related symptoms like sore breasts, lower back pain, and headaches. It may also help correct hormonal imbalances.