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Canadian Women Share Their Preferred Cannabis Strains for Menstrual Pain

Published on March 5, 2019 · Last updated February 24, 2022
cramps Menstrual pain

Let’s face it: many women get periods each and every month, and sometimes it can be pretty painful. For some, periods can be a fairly taboo subject, but for anyone with a uterus, having a period is a totally natural part of menstruation albeit a sometimes complicated one.

Many people are familiar with the symptoms related to PMS, which strikes once a month and can last for multiple days. Causing everything from headaches and mood swings to severe cramps, it can make life a living hell. But many people tend to overlook endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which are two common gynecologic disorders that cause symptoms including heavy period flow, painful periods, irregular periods, hormone imbalances and more.Join the Leafly Canada CommunityMore and more people are turning to CBD and THC products as tools to help them treat their painful periods. According to a 2002 historical review of cannabis and its role in obstetrics and gynecology, cannabis has long been a part of women’s health. We chatted with three Canadian women about what their cannabis experiences were and what strains worked best for them during ‘that time of the month.’

Lynette Campbell, Vancouver, BC

For nearly her entire life, Lynette Campbell’s cycle was regular. But after she became pregnant in her 40s, she noticed a change in her cycle. “It became much heavier, and that’s when the cramps began.”

At first, she tried to brush off the severity of the cramps, but then she realized how it was affecting her entire body including her back, neck, legs, and whole core area. When she first went to her doctor, they explained that a simple Ibuprofen would relieve the muscle pain, but Campbell tells Leafly, “It wasn’t enough,” and that’s when she started to explore cannabis.

Despite being a medical cannabis consumer for over 20 years, she had never tried to use it for her menstrual pain. “I started to learn about the different strains, the effects between the sativas and the indicas, and kind of really understand what levels I needed for my body and what worked for me,” she explains.

She decided to try out a topical which she would apply, and would smoke a joint of Raspberry Cough (a.k.a RBC) or Strawberry Cough. “Because I am a mom, and I do a lot of work from home, I needed strains to keep me alert and up, so it’s not just about the physical, but what it could also do for my attention span, as well.”

Currently, Campbell keeps a strain journal to make notes on how things affect her body differently and how it helps her manage her pain. She explains, “If I was changing a strain, or having a good effect with a strain, just make a note, so I could investigate why and see what key elements made it work.”

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Stevie Fort, Halifax, NS

Ever since Stevie Fort was in her teens, the painful cramps consistently came with her period. She never thought much of it, until she read Lena Dunham’s book, Not That Kind of Girl and realized that she might have endometriosis.

Just because your pain isn’t as bad as other people’s, it doesn’t mean it’s not valid

Fort explains, “I always felt that there was just something wrong and reading Lena’s book I was like, “Wow that kind of correlates with my childhood.” Even though Fort had found this validation through Dunham’s book, she could never really get a proper diagnosis. Many doctors would prescribe her prescriptions like Naproxen or Anaprox, but none of them seemed to bring her the relief she needed. The pain, Fort candidly shared with Leafly, “[has] just kind of been my standard for, I guess, close to the last 10 years.”

Frustrated she began to explore medical cannabis as a more holistic route for her body. For the last two years, she’s introduced CBD oil from Tweed and topicals into her routine.

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“During my last period, I rubbed it all on my lower belly and on my back, it’s just helped with the pain.” Fort will also smoke a high CBD cannabis strain, that will help with her chronic lower back pain.

She explains on days when she’s having serious lower back pain, she will take 0.5 ml of CBD oil but during her period it can be anywhere from 1 to 2 ml. Fort uses the app Clue, a period tracker and ovulation calculator, to keep track of her pain and how much CBD she has used on those days.

Being through this journey, she has tried to be vocal and honest sharing, “Just because your pain isn’t as bad as other people’s, it doesn’t mean it’s not valid, and it’s hard as a woman to remember that, right?”

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Ashley Keenan, Hamilton, ON

Ever since Ashley Keenan was in high school, she grew up having painful periods. She shares with Leafly that Pamprin was never out of reach. She would experience crippling pain and Keenan explains that it would affect her ability to go to school and then later in life, go to work.

“Trying to find something to help me with that was a very big concern of mine,” she sighs. Tests had confirmed that Keenan had developed ovarian cysts, but her doctors didn’t believe she had endometriosis, although she had many of the symptoms.

After years of prescription medications and another six years of unrelated health concerns, Keenan turned to medical cannabis to relieve her pain, lamenting that “people are like just use a heating pad, and you’re like, well, it’s crippling. I can’t stand it.” Keenan found that vaping strains with a higher THC composition and that also had a higher myrcene terpene profile always seemed to help her out, especially at night time when she’s trying to sleep.

Right now though, she believes a 1:1 ratio with THC and CBD is the cure-all for pretty much anything. “You can use that via oil and mine comes is just a 1:1 ratio, and with that, you get the benefits of both of those cannabinoid compositions but you also have the benefits of using them together.”

Exploring Cannabis and Women’s Health With Dr. Mary Clifton

Sometimes when Keenan knows it’s going to be a bad day, she’ll take an extra little bit of oil in the morning to combat her pain. She goes on to explain that “if you wake up in the middle of the night, and you’re having sharp stabbing menstrual cramps, you can definitely still use the oil. It’s just not gonna have an immediate effect like vaping.”

Right now, she’s been using Strainprint to track her menstrual cycle alongside her strain usage. She’s found it super useful to look back explaining, “When I first started tincturing with oils for medical cannabis, I got too high and it as a problem, but then you figure out the right dosing. You’re not impaired, you’re just functional.”

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Amanda Scriver
Amanda Scriver
Amanda Scriver is a passionate storyteller and body-image advocate based out of Toronto. In her spare time, she loves trashy reality television and traveling. Don't ask what her favorite restaurant is, it's complicated. You can find some of her bylines in the National Post, Broadly, High Times, Canadian Living, and more.
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