Weed has been around for longer than we know, but only now are we beginning to learn more about it. We know that it has a unique way of interacting with the body, having the ability to influence crucial processes. Besides, as marijuana use was proven to have medicinal value, the legalization of medical marijuana across the states also took off a few years back.
Now that the legal status of weed is improving, there are more studies regarding its effects on the body. However, many of them predominantly focus on treating the symptoms of various medical conditions and chronic pain. There are fewer studies on how weed can affect the menstrual cycle, something that a lot of marijuana users have been curious about. Therefore, in this article, we’ll talk all about how smoking weed can affect your period.
Your Period Can Be Affected By a Variety of Things
Your menstrual cycle is an important part of your reproductive health and keeping it balanced is crucial. Any disruptions in your mind or body can have an immediate impact.
That being said, your period can be affected by a variety of things from within or without. Stress is one of the most common causes of changes to your menstrual cycle. Other factors include, but are not limited to, a variety of health conditions, like chronic diseases, lifestyle factors, and medications.
Marijuana use is becoming more and more prevalent, whether for recreational or medical use, so it’s natural to ask how it can affect your cycle. After all, many people with periods regularly use marijuana for different reasons.
Being informed about its effects on this essential bodily function is important, the reason being that weed is a complex plant and each individual is also a complex human being who has a unique reaction to weed. Therefore, learning how marijuana affects menstruation can help you better understand how your body works.
Cannabinoids Affect the Whole Body
Weed influences the body through the endocannabinoid system and its receptors. The endocannabinoid system is a complex cell-signaling network consisting of endocannabinoids, enzymes, and receptors.
The endocannabinoids called anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) act as neurotransmitters and serve to balance out any irregularities in the body. The cannabinoids found in weed, the psychoactive THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and therapeutic CBD (cannabidiol), have very similar structures to those produced by the body, which is why when you smoke weed they easily attach to the receptors and alter their function.
The receptors are found all over the body – predominantly in the central and peripheral nervous systems, but they have also been found in women’s reproductive systems. (Meccariello et al, 2014 & Di Blasio et al, 2013)
How Does Cannabis Use Affect Your Period?
There is a lack of good research on women’s health regarding cannabis use and the menstrual cycle. The majority of scientific literature is focused on pregnancy and breastfeeding, and there are some studies on fertility and marijuana.
According to the information we have available, the effect of smoking weed on people’s periods is not well understood yet. Some studies have shown that marijuana can disrupt the menstrual cycle and cause hormonal fluctuations, while others have pointed out that it can help with PMS symptoms and cramps.
Please note that due to the lack of relevant studies, all of these claims should be taken with a grain of salt until we learn more. The menstrual cycle is a complex process and in order to have quality information, the effects of weed should be observed in all of its stages.
Cannabis May Help With Mood Swings During PMS
During the two weeks after ovulation and before your period starts, also known as the luteal phase, there are hormonal fluctuations that cause a variety of different symptoms, like mood swings, irritability, fatigue, breast tenderness, and bloating. During the second half of this phase, the progesterone levels rise, while the estrogen levels are low, and for some, serotonin levels also drop. These fluctuations can inevitably affect the mood.
How weed is thought to be able to help is by suppressing the progesterone levels and thus helping the body to reach a balanced state. The more science-backed evidence shows that the calming and anti-anxiety effects of weed, particularly CBD-dominant strains, can also balance the fluctuations in mood.
Cannabis May Soothe Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramping and bloating are only some of the most common symptoms when you have your period. For some people, cramps are bearable and they can go about their day as normal, but for others, cramps can be really painful and require some painkillers. Many users have reported using weed at that time of the month to soothe their pain or discomfort.
How marijuana helps to relieve cramps isn’t fully discovered yet. Menstrual cramps are triggered by the production of inflammatory compounds called prostaglandins, but weed doesn’t influence the activity of these compounds.
Instead, it’s thought that the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of THC (and especially CBD) have something to do with it. Through the activation of the CB2 receptors, they can block out the pain signals the brain receives which contributes to the reduction of discomfort.
Marijuana Use May Alter Period Length
There are some pieces of evidence from human and animal trials that weed can alter the length of your menstrual cycle. One human study from 1986 examined the effect of THC on the luteinizing hormone, the hormone that stimulates the release of an egg from the ovaries during the ovulation phase.
The study was double-blind and placebo where the participants were given a joint with 1.8% THC and a placebo cigarette. At the end of the study, it was observed that THC caused a suppression of the luteinizing hormone which altered the overall length of their menstrual cycles.
The Takeaway – The Effects of Cannabis on the Menstrual Cycle Are Not Well Understood Yet
We know more about cannabis now than we did in the past, but there are still a lot of shortcomings and a lot left to learn. Regarding the menstrual cycle, we do know that weed has some effects on it because it affects the whole body through the endocannabinoid system. However, what these effects are, still need to be studied more deeply.
The menstrual cycle is made up of several different phases that make their own changes in the body on a monthly basis, and the scientific information currently available is simply not enough to make any concrete observations. That being said, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that shows that cannabis use during different stages of the monthly cycle affects each individual differently.
Griffin, M. L., Mendelson, J. H., Mello, N. K., & Lex, B. W. (1986). Marihuana use across the menstrual cycle. Drug and alcohol dependence, 18(2), 213–224. https://doi.org/10.1016/0376-8716(86)90053-0
Lammert, S., Harrison, K., Tosun, N., & Allen, S. (2018). Menstrual Cycle in women who co-use marijuana and tobacco. Journal of addiction medicine, 12(3), 207–211. https://doi.org/10.1097/ADM.0000000000000387
Meccariello, R., Battista, N., Bradshaw, H. B., & Wang, H. (2014). Updates in reproduction coming from the endocannabinoid system. International journal of endocrinology, 2014, 412354. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/412354
Di Blasio, A. M., Vignali, M., & Gentilini, D. (2013). The endocannabinoid pathway and the female reproductive organs, Journal of Molecular Endocrinology, 50(1), R1-R9. Retrieved Jun 4, 2021, from https://jme.bioscientifica.com/view/journals/jme/50/1/R1.xml