by Seshata on 07/12/2015 | Medicinal

Top 5 ways that cannabis can affect the menstrual cycle!

Menstrual cycle Cannabis, with its rich spectrum of phytocannabinoids such as THC and CBD, has long been used in traditional medicine relating to fertility and reproduction. Now, scientists are beginning to discover just how important the endocannabinoid system is to the biological mechanisms controlling these fundamental processes.


May reduce fertility during ovulation phase

Cannabis may help soothe painful cramps during the menstrual period (© Amy Messere)
Cannabis may help soothe painful cramps during the menstrual period (© Amy Messere)

There have been various studies conducted on the relationship between the endocannabinoid system and the female reproductive cycle. It has been repeatedly shown that levels of the crucial endocannabinoid anandamide vary drastically at various points of the menstrual cycle.

Anandamide levels appear to be at the highest at the point of ovulation—the moment that the egg is released from the ovary. As anandamide is an agonist of the cannabinoid receptors, one might expect that high levels of THC (which is also an agonist) would not necessarily be detrimental to ovulation.

However, a handful of studies from the 1970s and ‘80s suggest that THC has a strong ability to block ovulation in many mammals, including primates (although there do not appear to be any studies specifically on human females). It appears that THC does so by suppressing the production of a hormone critical to the ovulation process, known as luteinizing hormone.

As with most aspects of cannabinoid science, more research is required to establish exactly what the link between cannabis use and ovulation is. Interestingly, however, it does appear that tolerance to the ovulation-blocking effect of THC may build up in habitual users.

Can reduce painful cramps during menstrual period

Cannabis has been used in traditional herbal medicine in cultures throughout the world as a remedy for painful menstrual cramps. Famously, the British Queen Victoria was also said to have used cannabis to soothe her painful cramps—and given that her personal physician was the renowned cannabis doctor William B. O’Shaughnessy, that story most likely is true (and given that she knighted him some years later, she must’ve really appreciated it)!

Today, women throughout the world continue to use cannabis to soothe their painful cramps, and experience great subjective relief—yet there have been no formal studies to back up its efficacy, and the underlying biological processes at work have not been defined.

However, it is well-known that THC can act as a powerful analgesic and antinociceptive agent (analgesic is a general term for painkiller; antinociceptives specifically stop the nerves from sensing pain signals at all). As well as this, both THC and CBD have the ability to reduce inflammation, which may contribute to the subjective reduction in discomfort.

For those searching for pain relief without the psychoactive effects of THC, CBD Oil can be an adequate solution.

Suppresses key hormones during premenstrual phase

THC has been observed to alter cycle length in female rhesus monkeys (© Nina A.J.)
THC has been observed to alter cycle length in female rhesus monkeys (© Nina A.J.)

During the premenstrual phase (which is also known as the luteal phase), hormonal fluctuations can cause a wide range of symptoms including pain, irritability, mood swings, fatigue, and bloating. It is well known that levels of certain hormones, including progesterone, significantly increase during this phase (while other hormones including estrogen become depleted).

For years, doctors have prescribed supplementary progesterone as a treatment for severe premenstrual syndrome, but recent research indicates that this is ineffective. Indeed, although it is generally thought that abnormal premenstrual symptoms are linked to low progesterone levels at a time when they should be high, some forms of premenstrual syndrome (the name given to the phenomenon of experiencing abnormally severe symptoms during this time) appear in fact to be linked to excessive progesterone levels and reduced estrogen levels.

Clearly, premenstrual symptoms severe enough to be classed as PMS are a result of hormonal fluctuations and imbalances. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that cannabis use suppresses the level of progesterone during the luteal phase, as well as altering levels of other important hormones known as prolactin and cortisol. As well as this, the inhibiting effect of THC on luteinizing hormone that begins at the time of ovulation is also observed to occur during the luteal phase (which is the window between ovulation itself and commencement of the menstrual period).

Again, while the precise mechanisms at work have not yet been fully described, it is clear that the endocannabinoid system has a role to play, and that women who experience abnormal symptoms at this time may benefit from targeted cannabinoid therapies.

Indeed, there are countless women throughout the world who experience subjective relief from cannabis during the premenstrual phase, although this may result from the known anti-anxiety and relaxant effects of cannabis more than from direct influence on hormonal levels.

May decrease length of menstrual cycle

Again, the evidence for THC causing a shortened menstrual cycle in human females is sparse. A 1986 study on the effect of THC on luteinizing hormone also observed overall duration of the menstrual cycles to be reduced in women given cannabis compared to those given placebo.

Thus, more research is required before it can be said with any degree of certainty how and if the duration of the menstrual cycle is affected in human females. As with the ovulation-blocking effect of THC, it may be that tolerance builds up rapidly to any possible effect.

Interestingly, older studies on nonhuman primates indicate that THC may alter cycle length, but not necessarily shorten it: on a 1980 study on rhesus monkeys, the sample treated with THC overwhelmingly exhibited significant increases in cycle duration. One monkey had a cycle length of 145 days, compared to the usual 30!

May affect embryo implantation in the uterus

Cannabis has also been reported to increase sexual arousal in women (© SkillingsVideo)
Cannabis has also been reported to increase sexual arousal in women (© SkillingsVideo)

There have been several important studies published over the last decade or so investigating the finely-tuned influence of the endocannabinoid system over various key processes relating to  conception and early pregnancy.

Several of these studies have found that anandamide levels fluctuate dramatically throughout the monthly cycle, and that levels are at their lowest during the “implantation window” (the brief window of time in which the embryo can successfully be implanted in the endometrium of the womb, which typically occurs last for around three days and begins six to nine days after ovulation).

In studies where anandamide has been artificially increased at this stage, implantation generally has failed to occur. Given that anandamide and THC are both agonists of the cannabinoid receptors, it would appear to make sense that consumption of THC during the implantation window could cause the same effect (however, this concept is overly simplistic, and does not necessarily hold up with such a complex system as the EC system).

However, until further research fully elucidates the association, the possibility that use of high-THC cannabis could prevent a fertilised ovum from becoming implanted in the endometrium during the implantation window means that it is highly advisable for cannabis users wishing to become pregnant to cease use of cannabis at least 24 hours prior to their “implantation window” opening.

The fact that THC appears to have the ability not only to inhibit ovulation but also prevent implantation of fertilised eggs in the endometrium suggests that there could be the potential for it or compounds like it to be used as the basis for non-hormonal birth control drugs.

Due to the fact that tolerance build-up appears to be somewhat of a problem with THC itself, there are probably better candidates out there for targeted research. After all, if consistent THC use alone were enough to prevent pregnancy, fertility rates would be drastically lower in heavy cannabis users compared to the general population, and there is no indication that this is the case!

However, there is substantial evidence that cannabis use enhances sexual pleasure in users, which could go some way towards counteracting any negative effect on fertility rates…

Comment Section

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Monica

So it is an like a condom that prevent pregnancy…. Nice.

05/01/2016

Michele

That's not true!!

15/07/2016

Ashley

It seems like the same idea, because if you think about it there is only 5 days out of a month that you can get pregnant. In those 5 days, if they miss the window of time that the implantation occurs, they can not get pregnant until the next month when they ovulate again. I wouldn't suggest it as a preferred method of birth control, but it is in a way similar to a condom. Keep in mind that you should also be using other birth control methods along with condoms because they are less than 85% effective when used correctly under ideal conditions.

06/12/2016

Angela

Monica,
I would not rely on weed as your primary source of birth control. Go to a Planned Parenthood and get on any form of medically proven birth control. I have the implant in my arm. It lasts for 4 years and you never have to worry about taking a pill. It prevents pelvic cancer and is more effective than getting your tubes tied. Do some research and find what's right for you!

19/08/2017

Sebastian

thanks Seshata your post are always awesome.
i have learned a lot about them.
i confirm what you said, my girlfriend and have noticed before.

05/01/2016

Christina

I have been smoking marijuana for years ,have 3 kids . And going threw menopause and it helps with hot flashes and mood swings and it helps with my lupus

05/01/2016

BrendaComer

Thank you for sharing ideas...

22/02/2016

Liz

What a relief to read this:) After taking hemp seed oil daily for 5 months my menstrual cycle stopped. After lengthy investigations by my GP, no apparent cause could be established. I cut it out, just incase and a month or so later it returned. I am delighted to read this as I thought it might be early menopause. So, goodbye to the hemp seed oil from me:)) ...and thanks to you for the info!

04/04/2016

Scarlet Palmer

Hi Liz,

Thank you for your comment :) May I ask, just to check, do you mean oil containing THC or other cannabinoids? Hemp seed oil contains only negligible amounts of cannabinoids so it is surprising, although no means impossible, that the hemp seed oil stopped your periods. It does contain various plant hormones, but I need to do more research on this to take a guess at how this could affect menstruation. Happy for you that your cycle is back to normal and it's not early menopause!

With best wishes,

Scarlet

06/04/2016

Trisha

I would like to know if it can cause you to bleed....

23/05/2016

Christina Wale

it started me bleeding and i haven't had a period for 9 years

21/10/2016

Kate

I had 1 day of bleeding during ovulation, then got my period as normal 2 weeks later. Does that help? So I'm taking a break from the CBD oil for the time being. But I'm also on Benzo withdrawal, which can also affect the menstrual cycle.

13/04/2017

Jillanne

I have an unusual situation here. I have a grown daughter with special needs. She hasn't had her period in about 10 years.... it's been nice since she needs others to take care of that for her. But it's not normal.
I started her on CBDs for chronic pain about a month ago. (It has been a miracle for her pain) Well guess what? She got her period.
I am shocked.

Is it possible that the CBDs healed her reproductive system?
Anyone?

31/07/2016

Amber

Jillian thats amazing! Your story is the first I've heard of this type. I'm trying to educate my very close minded mom on Cannabis use for her health and she's having female issues. This article gave me hope that CBD can help her too!

31/08/2016

Lei

Amazing story! I have been looking for research related to this too!

02/04/2017

Kk

Need to know I get something similar to hot flashes almost every night since I started using cannabis, any one experienced that b4

24/08/2016

Ashley Shane

I have been smoking marijuana for years and I have never missed or had any alteration to my menstrual cycles. I have gone through periods of time where I stopped smoking and I still never missed a period when I started smoking again. My husband and I are trying to get pregnant and today I missed my period. I took a home Clearblue test and it came out negative. I have read that early on in pregnancy your HCG levels are not high enough for a home test to be positive so it is best for a blood test to be drawn. One of my friends has missed her period from smoking after not smoking for about a month. Why is this so hard??? Lol.

18/10/2016

Ap

Did you take more tests? I'm in the same boat

23/12/2016

christinaw

this is my second month on the oil and i have lost weight, my blood sugar numbers are coming down (type 2 diabetes) and most of my joint pain is gone. i stoped my periods 9 years ago and i am spotting at the moment so i do think it does something, i am hoping its fixing things.

21/10/2016

Cindy

I stopped my period 4 years ago- hot flashes was so bad I had to get on hormones. Started edibles daily for fractured rib pain, and started having cramps about 1.5 weeks later-
Today I began spotting. Can't be a coincidence,
Either a body healing result or hormone fluctuations from the edibles.
I'd like to see more research and I also like to know if I could get off the darn synthetic hormones...

14/02/2017

Roze

Ok. I have a situation here. I got a tubal ligation 3 years ago. But i havent had a period in 3 months. I am a heavy cannabis smoker? Can smoking too much cause my absent menstural?

26/10/2016

Bridget Said

Ever sinds i started smoking, i ve noticed that my menstruation is irregular.
It all started in august, in august i did not had my menstruation but then in 2 september i had my menstruation in seven days. But in October i missed my period so the whole month i did not see any blood. and now 2 november i had my menstruation again so am wonderen if it cause of the weed.
help!

02/11/2016

Alex

I'm 21 and started smoking every day a month ago (three weeks after last period) and I'm usually very regular. Every 28-29 days for 3-5 days at a time. My first period after starting daily cannabis use was super late, six weeks between the end of my last period and the start of the current one and I've had light bleeding for almost two weeks now? Not sexually active so my only ideas are the weed or stress but I've been stressed all year (and this has only been causing lighter than normal periods but otherwise regular).

03/11/2016

celeste

i went of for birth control about a year and a half ago, about the same time that i started smoking daily. i didn't get my period for about a year and a half and have been constantly smoking, mostly for anxiety. i have however noticed my anxiety has been better the past 3 weeks and drastically cut down on smoking. i just got my first real period in that time!

01/12/2016

Nelly

I have been smoking weed for the past years now, but for like 3years now it has been like everyday stuff. But wondering like seriously why i have not taken in for my man and we do have sex like everyday without protection. My fear is that is it the weed that is affecting me not to conceive?

Thank you as i awaits your response

09/12/2016

Juliette

I have been a regular more than once a day cannabis user for sometime. I've noticed the more I used it the later I get my period. Closer to 45 days that to my normal 28-29 days.
Unlike most women I actually enjoy getting my period so this sucks for me. Every time I stop smoking or eating cannabis within 5 days my period starts. Including when I would stop two weeks in. Omg it was horrible then because my body would fall into menses twice and deplete nutrients too fast.

13/12/2016

Mjax

I've been taking CBD oil capsules for a month now and my period is a week late (I've never been late before, and my husband cannot have children). I was having horrible migraines with my periods that would put me out for a week or more that's why I started the CBD treatments. I haven't had 1 migraine since the first week of taking the cbd caps but now my period is a late but I'm way grumpier than ever when I'm suppose to have my period. The only thing I changed in my life was the CBD. Has it stopped anyone else's periods or am I starting Menopause at 43?

04/01/2017

Sascha

I have been taking CBD oil capsules for the past month (just stopped 2 days ago) and I am over two weeks late with my period. I have never ever been this late before, very regular normally. Took three pregnancy tests, all negative. The only thing I did different was the CBD. Starting to freak out a little but after reading your comment feeling a bit better now. I am 40. I took the capsules to relieve intense joint and muscle pain that has been bothering me for month now.

17/01/2017

Mel

I recently stopped smoking after being a habitual smoker for over a decade. My period is now 9 days late, but I don't think I'm pregnant. Could my period be late bc I just quit smoking? Does marijuana have the potential to affect my cycle like this?

12/01/2017

Scarlet Palmer

Dear Mel

Thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately, as Sensi Seeds is not a medical practice, we are not able to provide any advice relating to medical situations other than to consult your doctor or other licensed medical professional. This article, written specifically for healthcare providers who may not be aware of the many properties of cannabis, may be useful to you in talking with your doctor. You could also try to contact local medicinal cannabis support groups, if you have not already done so. In the UK, there is the United Patients Alliance (you can find them on Facebook) and in the US and EU there are many branches of NORML (google NORML followed by your area name). We hope this is helpful.

With best wishes,

Scarlet

12/01/2017

Me

Interesting to read that others also experience it the other way around.
I have an implanon (tube) for birth control, it's my second already and for 4 years I haven't had periods. However since a couple of months I'm smoking weed a couple times a week. My periods came back, every 3 or 2 weeks and very badly :( I hope it doesn't mean I can get pregnant though...
Also the first days of my period I'm having paranoid feelings and super depressed, never had anything so bad before. I'm now quitting weed to see if it's the cause.

17/02/2017

Zuzapola

I have implanon for 8 mounths now. I started cbd during last period it prelonged it and also made me cramping unusualy plus passing huge pieces of tissue together with bleeding so badly. Im. So upset cause it actually helped me huge time with my mood swings and being so bloody stressed. Im 99 sure this is it. Has your problem stopped with quitin?

06/07/2017

Cindy

Hello, I've had abnormal periods all my life.. I can last 2 weeks straight on my period and 1 week off and back on again.
Do you think cannabis would help shorten that?

01/03/2017

Scarlet Palmer

Dear Cindy

Thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear about your situation. Unfortunately, as Sensi Seeds is not a medical practice, we are not able to provide any advice relating to medical situations other than to consult your doctor or other licensed medical professional. This article, written specifically for healthcare providers who may not be aware of the many properties of cannabis, may be useful to you in talking with your doctor. You could also try to contact local medicinal cannabis support groups, if you have not already done so. In the UK, there is the United Patients Alliance (you can find them on Facebook) and in the US and EU there are many branches of NORML (google NORML followed by your area name). We hope this is helpful.

With best wishes,

Scarlet

02/03/2017

Lonnie

I've had horrible periods all my life as well. The past 2 years they have been 3 weeks apart with extreme bleeding. I started cbd oil 2 months ago and haven't had a period since. I've taken 2 pregnancy tests and am not pregnant. Relieved and confused. It has to be the cbd oil.

08/07/2017

Jay

I've been a heavy smoker for about ten years now and a couple years ago I quit for, roughly, six months. During that time I noticed that I started spotting during ovulation regularly. Previously, I'd only experienced this every once in awhile, perhaps two times a year, if that. Honestly, I started to HATE it, although, I'm sure it was just my body trying to re-establish its normal reproductive responses/hormones/etc. I wonder if I had continued to not smoke, if the spotting would have eventually dwindled down (as soon as I started smoking regularly, the spotting stopped again). In any case, it freaked me out at first and I didn't find much useful information about it at the time. I really hope more studies surface on this subject, we have a huge gap in information about how THC and cannabinoids impact the body over a long period of time. I'm interested to see the results of more awareness and scientific research on this. Thanks for the article, it made me feel less insane about the whole thing.

02/06/2017

anno

does hash cause a delay in the menstrual cycle and does it affect the pregnancy test showing that it is positive or it does not have to do with that?

11/06/2017

Natassija

I smoke everyday at least 10 times a day... And last night I was smoking and all of a sudden I got thee worse worst cramps ever.. I could sleep through out the night and still going through them as we speak but it seems like the weed kicked in my cramps and every time I'd hit my bong I had thee worst pain every time they went away when I stopped smoking... I'm gonna smoke now hopefully the same doesn't happen..

07/10/2017

P. Zorn

I started using medical marijuana as a post-menopausal female and after one month using daily had a period after 3+ years of no periods. I bought a capsule of liquid higher in CBDs. I noticed sore breasts and then voila, a heavy period. I researched and found it was likely the CBD mimicking estrogen. I would like to know if others had this effect. Also, my friend who has always smoked daily has yet to go through menopause despite being 59 years old. I think this is significant.

31/10/2017

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