While one of the most common therapeutic uses for cannabis is to treat the pain of menstrual cramps, cannabis can also have an effect on your period, itself.
If you’re not a regular cannabis consumer, it may affect your fertility during the ovulation phase of your cycle. During ovulation, when the ovary releases the egg, a woman’s anandamide levels are at their highest. Anandamide, a.k.a. the bliss molecule, is an endogenous cannabinoid, or chemical compound, that plays a regulatory role in bodily functions like motivation, pleasure, and appetite. According to some research from the 80s, THC might block ovulation in mammals by suppressing the luteinizing hormone, which is central to ovulation. If you’re a heavy cannabis consumer, however, you may have a tolerance to the THC’s blocking effect on ovulation.
Cannabis might also have an effect on the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which takes place right before your period starts. During this phase, you may experience PMS symptoms like cramps, bloating, fatigue, or irritability. The severity of PMS in some cases has been linked to abnormally high levels of a sex hormone called progesterone. Some studies have shown that cannabis can reduce progesterone levels during the luteal phase, while also shifting the levels of other hormones like cortisol and prolactin, which regulate stress and milk production.
Another study from the 80s has also shown that THC’s effect on the luteinizing hormone has correlated with a shorter period cycle. However, other research has shown that while THC might change the length of menstruation, it might increase it. One study showed that a rhesus monkey had a cycle length of 145 days, instead of the usual 30.
As the endocannabinoid system regulates a variety of physiological functions, including pain, appetite, sleep, and mood, it would be no surprise that it also influences how the menstrual cycle plays out. Of course, since cannabis may help balance out the endocannabinoid system, or affect the levels of various hormones, it’s no surprise that the many chemical compounds in cannabis could also have an effect on your period.