I have spent the past 15 minutes sprawled in an undignified position on the floor experimenting with cannabis suppositories. This isn’t a typical Monday night for me, I’ll have you know; I am doing it in the name of science. Specifically, I am doing it to see whether “weed tampons” can get rid of period pain.
There is a distinct possibility that I just lost 90% of my male readers. The squeamishness surrounding menstruation is part of the reason that little effort has been made to find effective treatments for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and period pain. Want to hear some rage-inducing stats? There have been five times as many studies into erectile dysfunction as there have been into PMS. That is despite the fact that 90% of women have experienced PMS, while only 19% of men have been affected by ED. Period pain can be debilitating, but women are still expected to suffer through it with just ibuprofen or a hot water bottle.
This is where the weed comes in. If you live in a rapidly gentrifying area, cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, is everywhere. There is CBD coffee, CBD jelly beans, CBD dog treats … you name it, there is a CBD-variant of it, normally promising to calm you down without getting you high.
There are also, as I recently discovered, vaginal CBD suppositories. Created by a California-based startup, Foria Wellness, these promise a natural way to alleviate the discomfort of menstruation. When Foria started selling its suppositories a few years ago, the media dubbed them “weed tampons” and the colloquialism stuck. However, to be clear, they are not tampons. They are about an inch long, bullet-shaped, and made out of cocoa butter and cannabinoids. You are supposed to lie down, insert one and wait 15 to 20 minutes as it melts and the CBD’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties get to work. Then, voilà, sweet, sweet, relief.
So, does it work? I think I felt better, but that could also have had something to do with the large glass of medicinal wine I drank after. (Science is stressful.) Outside the confines of my in-home lab, the data is similarly inconclusive. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests cannabis can help with period pain, but little definitive scientific evidence. Foria, for its part, is trying to encourage more research. Last year, the company enlisted Dr Staci Gruber, a professor at Harvard Medical School, to track the self-reported results of 400 women using the CBD suppositories over a number of months; the results are due in September. But even if the results are amazing, it is worth bearing in mind that CBD isn’t exactly an accessible panacea. A pack of eight Foria cannabis suppositories cost $72 (£56). Being a woman is painful and expensive.
Still, even with all those caveats, it’s nice to see some strides being taken when it comes to menstrual pain. Here’s hoping CBD will be coming to a vagina near you soon.