I figured I’d put the products to the test. I waited until I felt the telltale signs of brewing pain – aching back, dully throbbing stomach, a general tightening around my torso – to try out the tampons. What happened can be most accurately described as nothing. I felt nothing. The pain never eventuated, and I had the first pain-free period in as long as I can remember. I wondered if maybe it was a fluke – one swallow does not make a summer, and all that jazz. But a second month’s visit from Auntie Flow provided the same results – nada. No pain. Zilch. Zero.
Dr Frodsham touches on the lack of research around CBD oil in general, and its relation to period symptoms specifically, but says: “It seems that orally ingested CBD may be slower to work and less effective than topical application. Any drugs taken orally go through the liver to be metabolised, so much active drug is lost in this process.” She continues: “Gynaecologists often use suppository pain relief for gynae procedures as the blood supply in the pelvis is rich, and so, theoretically, this may be more effective.” In further correspondence she tells me that after our conversation she did some further research into CBD, specifically in regards to its efficacy when it comes to period pain and women’s health, and came across a study that is currently being undertaken on the very topic, the results of which she is anxiously anticipating.
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A study published in the British Medical Journal showed that 20 per cent of women under 25 had missed school or work due to period pain, and a further 40 per cent had found that it severely affected their ability to concentrate. While there are no statistics showing how many women go on the pill specifically to ease menstrual pain, it is widely touted as a beneficial side effect of hormonal contraception. A 2017 article even analysed how each different form of contraception ranked in the pain relief stakes.
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1 /2 Can CBD tampons cure my period pains?
While there remains scant research around the oil’s benefits when it comes to period pain, there are a few products directly harnessing it for targeted purposes.
I particularly gravitate toward tinctures and gummies that have a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD (meaning they contain the same amount of both compounds) when I’m dealing with tougher days or trying to sleep. I rely on trustworthy products and brands because my well-being can’t afford anything less. I’ve also made other healthful changes in my life that have helped me manage my symptoms, like finding other supplements that work for me, getting an IUD, changing my eating habits, and working out more. CBD and cannabis aided my journey of health and self-growth.
The newsletter was riddled with seemingly relatable Friends GIFs, clever alliterations, and marketing buzzwords to get the reader to buy, buy, buy! “PMS Pain Be Gone!” it read. But what it didn’t have was products that have been proven to—in any way, shape, or form—actually minimize excruciating period cramps.
One of the products was a patch with only 15 mg of CBD, also called cannabidiol, a compound found in cannabis that does not produce a high. Using that to try to manage my pain would be like putting a Band-Aid on a gushing head wound. How do I know this? For starters, I typically consume between 30 mg and 50 mg of CBD in a single dose when I’m taking it to manage my pain. And as much as I feel CBD assists me in my pain management, it’s not my cure-all. I could replace my blood with CBD oil and I would still have intense cramps. If something has only 15 mg of CBD, I don’t have to try it to know it’s not going to cure my PMS. Not to mention, there’s just no science or regulation behind these claims.
When I see brands push these products to unsuspecting women, I can’t help but feel a mix of anger, sadness, and loss of hope for a real solution. Women already go through insurmountable pain with few options and skeptical doctors. When we find something that we think works, we need to know that we can consistently trust it. But right now, we don’t have that for CBD.
Up until my surgery, I was subjected to bouts of extreme discomfort and frequent UTIs. Sex was painful, and sometimes I would bleed during or after. I developed depression and anxiety while going through these unsuccessful battles with an ever-growing list of symptoms that went undiagnosed for years. I was opposed to opioid use and searched for an alternative. Not only do I understand the allure of using cannabis for period paid—I do it myself, and I find that some products really do help.
I was scrolling through my emails recently, exorcising spam, when one subject line caught my eye: “CBD for PMS? Hallelujah! .” The hemp company’s newsletter could not have been more on point—I was smack dab in the middle of one of my most painful periods to date. I opened the email, and my heating pad slipped as I shifted to the edge of my seat.
If a product hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the brand behind that product cannot legally claim it will cure any ailment. From the FDA itself: ”Unlike drug products approved by the FDA, unapproved CBD drug products have not been subject to FDA review as part of the drug approval process, and there has been no FDA evaluation regarding whether they are safe and effective to treat a particular disease, what the proper dosage is, how they could interact with other drugs or foods, or whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns.”
Personally, I have found benefits from using CBD, and I find the best results when using CBD with THC products. That makes sense, according to a 2017 report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, which found that there is “conclusive or substantial evidence” that cannabis—not CBD on its own—is effective at treating chronic pain. (But not specifically pain due to PMS or endometriosis.)
Could this really be the magical answer to the burning ball of fiery knives inside my uterus? I thought.