Top 5 Ways Cannabis Can Affect the 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.
Does cannabis use affect fertility and the menstrual cycle? The menstrual cycle is complex, and cannabis might influence several aspects and stages. Let’s see what modern research has to say:
1. THC may reduce fertility during ovulation phase
There have been a number of 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 highest at the point of ovulation—the moment that the egg is released from the ovary. As anandamide is an agonist of 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 humans). 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.
2. Cannabis can reduce painful cramps during menstrual period
Traditionally, cultures all over the world have used cannabis in herbal medicine to treat painful menstrual cramps. Famously, the British Queen Victoria was also said to have used cannabis to soothe her painful cramps. Given that her personal physician was the renowned cannabis doctor William B. O’Shaughnessy, that story is most likely true. The fact that she knighted him some years later, suggests that she must have really appreciated it!
Today, many women continue to use cannabis to soothe their painful cramps, and experience great subjective relief. Despite this, 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. An analgesic is a general term for painkiller; antinociceptives specifically stop the nerves from sensing pain signals at all. As both THC and CBD have the ability to reduce inflammation, this may contribute to the subjective reduction in discomfort.
For those searching for pain relief without the psychoactive effects of THC, CBD can be an adequate solution.
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3. Cannabis use may suppress key hormones during premenstrual phase
During the premenstrual phase (which is also known as the luteal phase), hormonal fluctuations can cause a wide range of symptoms. These include 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, such as oestrogen, become depleted).
When those symptoms are abnormally severe symptoms, this phenomenon is called premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. For years, doctors have prescribed supplementary progesterone as a treatment for severe PMS, but recent research indicates that this is ineffective. The general consensus has been that abnormal premenstrual symptoms are linked to progesterone levels being low at a time when they should be high. In fact, some forms of PMS appear to be linked to excessive progesterone levels and reduced oestrogen 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 can have several effects during the luteal phase (the window between ovulation itself and commencement of the menstrual period).
Cannabis use can:
- Suppress the level of progesterone
- Alter levels of other important hormones known as prolactin and cortisol
- Inhibit the effect of THC on luteinizing hormone
Again, we have to note that the precise mechanisms at work have not yet been fully researched and verified. But 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.
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4. THC may decrease length of menstrual cycle
The evidence for THC causing a shortened menstrual cycle in humans is sparse, but worth mentioning. A 1986 study on the effect of THC on luteinizing hormone observed the overall duration of menstrual cycles decreased in women given cannabis compared to those given a placebo.
Interestingly, older studies on non-human primates indicate that THC may alter cycle length, but not necessarily shorten it. In 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!
Obviously, 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 humans. As with the ovulation-blocking effect of THC, it may be that tolerance to any possible effect builds up rapidly.
5. THC may affect embryo implantation in the uterus
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. In particular, they show that anandamide levels are at their lowest during the “implantation window”.
Note: The implantation window refers to the brief window of time in which the embryo can successfully implant in the endometrium of the womb. This window typically occurs 6-10 days after ovulation and lasts roughly three days.
In studies where anandamide has been artificially increased at this stage, implantation has generally failed to occur. Given that anandamide and THC are both agonists of the cannabinoid receptors, it seems 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.
Further research is needed to verify the association between high-THC cannabis use and the blocking of a fertilised ovum from being implanted in the endometrium during the implantation window. Until then, to be on the safe side, users who want to get pregnant should probably cease use of cannabis at least 24 hours prior to their implantation window opening.
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THC for non-hormonal birth control?
THC does appear to have the ability not only to inhibit ovulation but also prevent implantation of fertilised eggs in the endometrium. This suggests that there could be the potential for THC, or compounds like it, to be used as the basis for non-hormonal birth control drugs.
However, as tolerance build-up appears to be something 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!
Interestingly, there is substantial evidence that cannabis use enhances sexual pleasure in users, which could help to counteract any negative effect on fertility rates!
78 thoughts on “Top 5 Ways Cannabis Can Affect the Menstrual Cycle”
Omg finally someone who I can relate to. I have pcos and have had it since puberty. I have had less than a dozen periods in my life and I am 40 next month. i started using marijuana consistently about 4 months ago and I have gotten my period for 3 consecutive months. NEVER happened before, even using birth control pills. I don’t know yet if I am ovulating as well because I don’t typically do that either, but after this one I plan on taking an ovulation test each day until either I get a positive or I menstruate again so I can tell if it is all in working order. The ONLY life change I’ve made is the addition of daily marijuana use. Congratulations on your pregnancy!
Hi, I have been using marijuana every day for 5 months and my menstruation has stopped for 4 months. is this normal?
Cannabis has the potential to influence several aspects of the menstrual cycle, ranging from reduced fertility to relieving PMS-related pains.
CBD OIL effecting Menstrual cycle – Living with Anxiety
Living with Anxiety
CBD OIL effecting Menstrual cycle
Ever since I’ve started taking cbd which completely made my anxiety (health anxiety)vanish my cycle is so bad. 2 weeks early, spotting after cycle ends, ect. any one else?
I never have tried the oil but reading your post what I would say is maybe stop taking it , see if everything comes back to normal and if not see your Doctor
It could be the oil but your Doctor would be able to rule out anything else
I had a baby last year so I had everything done and after the baby my cycle started back rather normal then i started cbd oil and my cycle is so messed up.
I called the dr spoke to the nurse she told me stop taking it
I am glad you made that call and I think maybe the oil then could be the cause , see how you get on without it and if everything goes back to normal then we all know that reads your post that this could be something it does and if not then book in with your Doctor but I doubt it will be nothing much these things sometimes happen and if you only had a baby last year your hormones sometimes can still play up a year later
Let us know if stopping it does the trick x
How have you been feeling since you have stopped taking the oil? Thanks for sharing, I had no idea CBD oil could possibly affect menstrual cycles.
I spotted a day or so (ovulation I’m now assuming)but after being off cbd for 7 days I had 2 panic attacks that was absolutely terrifying and I started it back up
How are you going? i found your post by doing my own google search of my new symptoms. i had not had a cycle for a long time and CBD oil brought it back but now i feel like it wrecking havoc with it too, nearly non stop spotting
My cycle isnt very consistent. I spot 5-8 days after my cycle for a day or so. then I ovulate. My cramps have became intense, I am going longer in between cycles also HOWEVER my anxiety is GONE!
Marijuana has always affected my cycles. I quit using it because of this happening. I would have intense bleeding then spotting. I got tired of always having a period, so I don’t use it anymore unfortunately.
Same that’s how mines been. It was so heavy then spotting, and I had cramps which I’ve never had. I havnt stopped my cbd though. My health anxiety was so out of control
So happy to see I am not alone. Within two weeks of starting CBD oil I have started spotting and my period came two weeks early. I’m going to ride it out for the time being.
I’m still taking my cbd! My cycles are irregular and the spotting has eased up but I down loaded period tracker to keep track of it
I am having a horrible time with my cycle too! It has to be the CBD because there is nothing new in my life, but I can’t find any research or experiences from others related to CBD use. Any input is appreciated
Mine was EXTREMELY inconsistent. I’d randomly spot and I started having cramps. I didnt stop though. After 7 months or so on cbd last month and this month I’ve had NORMAL cycle 0 spotting 5 day just NORMAL. I havnt stopped taking cbd though. I cant go back to that anxiety life. Mine was horrible
Yep! Had to stop.
I have the very same problem. Cycle is one week shorter and at the same time, sort of unpredictable (a day with 0 bleeding mid-menstruation, then bleeding again, spotting before and after menstruation and so on). I keep on taking the oil because it helps me so much, but cycle irregularity does bother me a lot. I can’t really find any research on how CBD affects female hormone levels. I mean, I can stand having irregular cycles, but what if it causes more serious health issues in future?
I have been on CBD for 7 months and last month and this month my cycle has been normal. Up until now I’d have a longer heavier cycle, then random spotting, or 30 days in between. It was so off wack however I have 0 anxiety now.!
Okay I’m so glad I found this! I actually went off birth control years ago and love being able to Intuitively track my cycle! normally not cycle is 25-28 days and I’m on day 30 with no period. I use the Flo app which is awesome and shows you your average cycle length and other information. The only thing I’ve been doing differently has been CBD oil every night for the last week, and I’m not sure if it’s related but two days ago I had a swollen thyroid and low grade fever. Does anybody know ignoring CBD can have an effect on thyroid?
Interestingly, I have been a heavy marijuana user for 7 years. Daily use if not multiple times per day, and despite that my period has been totally regular and trackable.
I have hypothyroidism myself. Yes it definitely will and can extend it 2 weeks past due date. Mine was all sorts of off wack.
The same thing has happened to me while using oil. My doctor told me that cbd oil can have both an anticoagulant effect and also affects hormones, causing breakthrough bleeding and making birth control less effective. She admitted she was not sure if it was because of the hemp seed oil or the cbd itself.
You can get cbd in an isolate powder and I have used it to make gummies, it did not cause bleeding or cramps but that was also before I was on birth control. But it could be helpful info if it turns out the hemp oil is the culprit!
Ever since I've started taking cbd which completely made my anxiety (health anxiety)vanish my cycle is so bad. 2 weeks early, spotting after cycle ends, ect… any one else?