Medical marijuana can treat a wide range of conditions. One of today’s most intriguing areas of research involves cannabis and women’s health. Of course, research is ongoing, and we still have a lot to understand. The good news is that cannabis has been shown to have many positive effects on women’s health.

Scientists have surveyed women to evaluate the effects of cannabis on sexual function. In a major continuous study involving over 28,000 women over the last twenty years, researchers found that a higher frequency of marijuana usage was strongly associated with increased sexual frequency. In other words, women who use marijuana often have more sex. The authors believe that marijuana’s potential benefit for better sexual function should be more deeply studied.

In a smaller, randomized survey of 373 women in 2017, 127 females reported using marijuana before sex. The majority reported increases in libido, sex drive, a decrease in pain, and most importantly, an improvement in orgasm. Indeed, women who regularly take cannabis before sexual activity had 2.13 higher odds of satisfactory orgasms. Women with frequent marijuana consumption had 2.10 times higher odds of satisfactory orgasms compared to those with minimal usage. The survey demonstrates an extraordinarily strong link between cannabis use and a satisfying female orgasm. In addition to that, the research shows improvements in other areas of sexual function. In the future, more research could lead to the development of cannabis-based treatments for female sexual dysfunction.

The Treatment of Painful Menstrual Cramps with Cannabis and CBD

Another interesting and little known fact: cannabis has a long history of use in gynecology! It is documented that in the late 1800’s, Dr. John Russell Reynolds prescribed cannabis tinctures to relieve Queen Victoria’s painful menstrual cramps. 

CBD appears to be a well-tolerated treatment for pain, including the discomfort of cramps during your period.  Menstrual cramps are triggered by the release of inflammatory compounds, known as prostaglandins, during menstruation. Women who produce excessive amounts of prostaglandins will experience severe cramps. 

In the body, endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors play a key role in regulating pain and inflammation. THC and CBD have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. How these compounds work in your body, however, differs from other anti-inflammatory or analgesic drugs (like ibuprofen or acetaminophen) because they interact with different receptors in the body. 

Research suggests that CBD may work better when paired with THC, known as a full spectrum product. When combined, CBD and THC produce a synergistic effect. So, if you’re searching for a product to help with cramps, a full-spectrum option may be your best choice. 

For menstrual pain, a medical marijuana product that has full-body effects might be most effective. Flower, a gummy or other edible, or, like Queen Victoria, a tincture. A topical gel or cream provides targeted relief for pain in the  back, muscles, or breasts.

What About Cannabis and Pregnancy?

Many physicians do not recommend using medical marijuana while pregnant or breastfeeding due to the lack of research and potential effects of transmission through the mother’s system to the fetus or infant. 

If you are looking to conceive, you should consult with your doctor about cannabis intake. Although research is still ongoing, there is some evidence that cannabis can make conception more difficult. Why is that?

Cannabis has wide-ranging effects on hormones and the entire endocrine system. As with all medicines, the reaction will depend on the size of the dose and how often you take it, so it is vital that you consult with your doctor to determine the appropriate dosage and frequency. Cannabis can change your levels of cortisol and thyroxine. Regarding sexual health, using medical marijuana may alter the amounts of estrogens, androgens, and progesterone circulating in your system.  

In women, THC is known to alter folliculogenesis, which is the maturation of the ovarian follicle. THC may disrupt ovulation in some women by regulating the cellular energy produced in the mitochondria. During ovulation, the body releases a surge of endocannabinoids in the ovary. Too many cannabinoids from excessive cannabis consumption can disrupt the surge and lead to an irregular cycle. It is possible that THC also inhibits the creation of steroids by preventing the conversion of the hormones pregnenolone to progesterone. 

In a study of primates, the use of marijuana edibles as often as three times per week were shown to have an impact on menstrual cycles and female reproductive hormones, according to a recent study conducted at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University. Scientists monitored the reproductive systems of healthy female primates after eating THC edibles. In a brief time, menstrual periods were longer in duration and levels of follicle stimulating hormone (one of the regulators for the body’s reproductive function) increased, depending on dosage. 

This study additionally suggests some potential for reproductive system dysfunction. That may lead to decreased chances of becoming pregnant for some heavy users. Even though the effects of THC might lead to some decrease in fertility in men and women, the good news is that fertility will return with a temporary cessation of use.

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Author

  • Medicate OH's Founder and Publisher is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master's degree in public administration, both from Northern Kentucky University. She has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing professionally for the medical and wellness industries, including positions with The Journal of Pediatrics, Livestrong, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and Patient Pop.