Much has been written and said about cannabis and its health benefits. You can look into how cannabis supports the immune system, and you would find a considerable number of studies and anecdotal evidence pointing to positive results. The same can be said about cannabis and mental health, cannabis and the nervous system, and even cannabis and the digestive system.
But what about cannabis and its benefits to the female reproductive system?
This special report will explore the effects of cannabis to problems related to the female reproductive system.
Let’s talk about the female reproductive system
The female reproductive system is biologically designed to carry out several functions, including the production of ova or female egg cells that are needed to reproduce. The reproductive system is also in charge of the transportation of these egg cells to the site of fertilization. The fertilization of an egg by a sperm typically takes place in the fallopian tubes, after which the fertilized egg travels to the uterus and implants itself on the walls of the uterus, thereby beginning the initial stages of pregnancy.
If fertilization does not occur, the reproductive system is designed to shed out the uterine lining through menstruation. Moreover, this system is responsible for the production of female sex hormones that are necessary to maintain a woman’s reproductive cycle.
What makes up the female reproductive anatomy?
The female reproductive system includes certain parts that are located both inside and outside of the body. The external female reproductive structures or the genitals have a two-fold function. First, they allow the sperm of the male partner to enter the body and, second, to protect the internal genital organs from organisms that might cause infection.
The main external reproductive structures include the labia majora, the labia minora, the Bartholin’s glands, and the clitoris. The internal organs, meanwhile, include the vagina, the cervix, the uterus, the ovaries, and the fallopian tubes.
The menstrual cycle
Once a female enters reproductive age, she experiences cycles of hormonal activity. This cycle normally repeats at 28- to 30-day intervals. With each cycle, a woman’s body prepares itself for a potential pregnancy, even if that is not the woman’s intention.
If a pregnancy does not take place, the uterine lining sheds and the body releases this in the form of blood. The term menstruation refers to the periodic shedding of the uterine lining and comes from the root word “menstru,” which means ‘monthly.’
Cannabis and the female reproductive system
The use of cannabis among women is highly prevalent. However, conversation on the topic of cannabis rarely focuses on how the drug affects female reproduction and endocrinology.
One review looked into scientific literature regarding cannabis consumption and the production of ovarian hormone, menstrual cycle, and female fertility. The article noted that few studies have examined the effects of weed on the menstrual cycle. However, these studies suggest that there is a relationship between marijuana consumption and menstrual cycle disruptions. According to these studies, women who use cannabis have a slightly elevated rate of anovulatory cycles or menstrual cycles that lack ovulation. Females who fall under this population are also at a high risk for decreased fertility due to ovulatory abnormalities.
The article also cited one study as having found an association between occasional pot use, which was 1 to 3 times in the three months before the study, and a prolonged follicular* phase of the menstrual cycle, thus resulting in delayed ovulation.
In the same study they mentioned, the authors wrote that self-reported chronic moderate-to-heavy marijuana use — which was at least three times per week over the six months preceding the study — was associated with greater frequency of anovulatory menstrual cycles and had a luteal phase* shorter than 11 days.
* The follicular phase of the menstrual cycle starts on day 1 of your menstrual period. During this phase, the follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone stimulate the growth of around 15 to 20 eggs in the ovaries, each one having its own shell or follicle. These hormones also trigger an increase in the production of estrogen.
This phase is followed by the ovulatory phase of the cycle. Then this is followed by the luteal phase, wherein an empty follicle develops into a new structure called the corpus luteum once it releases its egg. The corpus luteum secretes progesterone, a hormone that prepares the uterus for a fertilized egg to implant and begin a pregnancy. However, if fertilization does not take place, this will signal the next menstrual period to start.
Using cannabis during menstruation
Many women have taken to cannabis to alleviate symptoms related to pre-menstrual syndrome or PMS, including cramps and other discomforts, as well as endometriosis. Some of those who suffer from mood swings related to their monthly periods use weed to deal with the chaotic rush of emotions, too.
There isn’t any large body of scientific research on the matter, but according to Dr. Charles Pollack, director at Thomas Jefferson University’s Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp, weed works with the receptors in our body’s endocannabinoid system. And many of these receptors are found in the uterus. The psychoactive chemical component in cannabis, tetrahydrocannbinol (THC), and the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD), as well as other cannabinoids found in cannabis bind to these receptors to induce therapeutic and pain relieving effects.
The presence of cannabinoid receptors in the female reproductive system also led to scientists believing that cannabis can help women who are suffering from endometriosis. Endometriosis is a disorder wherein the uterine lining — called endometrium — grows outside of the uterus and therefore causes very painful menstruation.
Pollack noted that researchers are still trying to find out whether cannabis helps relieve pain associated with endometriosis or if it slows the growth of the endometrium. He added, though, that it is possible for women with painful menstrual cramps to benefit from marijuana’s anti-anxiety effects.
Currently, there are many cannabis products that have been designed to help relieve menstrual pains. You can get these products as long as you are from a legal state. If you want to see if it really works for you, then it is something really worth trying.