Ah period pain, the blood pact we all didn’t ask for yet undeniably are bonded by. For many women, that time of the month can be annoying enough without having to worry about period pain as well. However, it is more common than you might think. A global study from last year found that more than 70% of young women experience period pain and a survey in the USA found that 42% of participants said that period pain had negatively affected their ability to work. So what causes menstrual cramping and what can be done so that it has less of an impact on your life?
What causes period pain?
Welcome to our Sex-Ed, where the time of the month for us is just an excuse to have a calorie blind diet and a tv binge instead of debilitating pain. Each month in cis-women of reproductive age, an egg is released into the uterus which allows the possibility of fertilisation and pregnancy. This process is known as ovulation. However, if the egg goes unfertilised, and the person doesn’t become pregnant, the body will shed the lining of the uterus, which is the organ inside the female reproductive system where a foetus would develop (also known as the womb). This lining then comes out of the vagina and the person experiences their period.
Menstrual cramps are just that: muscle cramps. When the uterus lining is being shed, the muscles of the uterus will contract which helps push the lining out. These contractions are caused by chemicals called prostaglandins. These chemicals make the muscles squeeze the blood vessels in the uterus which causes the cells to starve of oxygen and send pain signals to the brain. These prostaglandins are typically associated with processes like inflammation, blood clots and labour and they also tend to be found in higher doses in women who have worse period pain. To sum it all up though, it feels like someone is ripping your insides out.
How could CBD help?
Cannabis is one of the oldest plants known to be cultivated by humans. Fibres from the hemp plant have been found dating back ten thousand years from 8000 BCE. Additionally, there is evidence that it has been used medicinally for at least 2500 years.
In modern times, scientific discovery is still unravelling the secrets of this plant’s properties. CBD is one of the chemicals from the marijuana plant called cannabinoids which have many potential therapeutic uses. CBD is used as a treatment for epileptic seizures and is also purported to have beneficial effects on pain, anxiety, insomnia and inflammation to name just a few.
Although much more research needs to be done before CBD can be used more widely in specialised medications, there is already quite a lot of information about the effects of CBD when it comes to inflammation and pain relief.
This study discusses how CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, and this one found that CBD in conjunction with other cannabinoids could reduce inflammation and pain in the eye. Another study investigated whether CBD and THC could help relieve pain for skin conditions and found some evidence that it was successful. This article also indicated that cannabinoids presented promising treatment solutions to pain and inflammation and this scientific review suggested that CBD was a “modestly effective” pain reliever that could work well for non-cancer-related pains.
It is worth noting, however, that many of these studies used both THC and CBD which interact together in the body’s endocannabinoid system in a different way to CBD alone.
What can I do to relieve period pain?
Make an offering to Mother Nature perhaps? Generally, period pain is more inconvenient than harmful, however, chronic and severe pain can point to more serious conditions such as endometriosis, adenomyosis or uterine fibroids so it is important to go to your doctor if you are concerned.
Otherwise, a general remedy for period pain is to have a warm bath or use a hot water bottle over the area of pain. This is to try and relax the muscles which mean blood flow can return to the uterus. And contrary to popular belief, if this doesn’t work, using a cold compress such as an ice pack could also reduce inflammation and thereby reduce pain. A good gran suggestion would be a cup of Cramp Bark tea, that one is pretty self-explanatory.
Additionally, you can take medication to try and alleviate the symptoms. Taking over-the-counter pain relief can help and you could also try taking CBD to try to relax and reduce pain& inflammation. Doctors can also prescribe contraceptives as a treatment for period pain, so if you are in serious pain, it is worthwhile visiting your local GP.