Weed, with its wide range of phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD, has long been used in traditional medicine for reproduction and fertility. Scientists are now beginning to understand just how important the endocannabinoid system in our bodies is, and the biological mechanisms that control these processes.
The menstrual cycle is complex, and cannabis may exert an influence on several stages of it. Let’s take a look at what the research says about it.
THC May Reduce Fertility During Ovulation
There have been several studies conducted on the relationship between the ECS system and the female reproductive cycle. Anandamide, the same endocannabinoid that has been linked to runner’s high, has been shown to vary drastically throughout stages of the menstrual cycle.
Anandamide is highest around the point of ovulation, the moment the egg is released from the ovary. Because Anandamide is the agonist of cannabinoid receptors, one would think that high levels of THC would not necessarily be detrimental to ovulation. However, a handful of studies from the ’70s and ’80s indicated otherwise. It appears the THC suppresses production of a hormone critical to the ovulation process, called luteinizing hormone.
Cannabis Can Help Treat Menstrual Cramps
Traditionally, cultures around the world have used cannabis as a herbal medicine to treat painful menstrual cramps. Queen Victoria was even said to have used cannabis to soothe her shark week cramps. This should come as no surprise, given that her doctor was renowned cannabis doctor William B. O’Shaughnessy.
Today many women consider using cannabis to soothe cramps and this is a subjectively effective treatment. There have been no formal studies to back this up, but THC is known to be a strong analgesic and CBD is becoming well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, both helpful in treating menstrual cramps.
Cannabis May Suppress Key Hormones During Premenstrual Phase
The luteal phase, which is the first part of a woman’s cycle, is widely attributed with hormonal fluctuations that result in a range of uncomfortable symptoms like pain, mood swings and fatigue.
When a woman experiences especially severe symptoms, it is termed to be Premenstrual Syndrome, affectionately known as PMS. The general consensus in the medical community currently seems to be that high levels of progesterone and low levels of estrogen may make the problem worse. Cannabis can suppress the level of progesterone present and can also alter the effects of other hormones like prolactin and cortisol, which may help reduce symptoms.
While research is still needed, the relationship between cannabis and the female reproductive cycle continues to be of interest to researchers.