Cramping. Bloating. Fatigue. These are just some of the many side effects we endure when our period pays us a visit each and every month. Usually, one might go for the classic remedies to help ease these menstrual symptoms: Motrin, a heating pad, chocolate. If you're up on the latest wellness trends, maybe you've even reached for CBD to ease your period pains. But eating a gummy or rubbing on an oil is one thing. Putting the ingredient directly into your body by way of the vagina or anus is another. Yes, we're talking about CBD tampons and suppositories.
If this sounds kinda out there, it did to me too. But I'm always looking for something to help my worse-than-average period cramps, so when a UK brand called Daye reached out and sent over a few CBD tampons, I didn't wait long before saying yes.
According to Daye, the CBD tampons are "coated in a proprietary blend of broad spectrum CBD extract and cocoa butter," both of which they say are safe to use vaginally or anally. The website claims that "CBD tampons work by having a small percentage of the cannabinoid compound be absorbed through the vaginal mucosa." Then, they say, it's absorbed by the blood vessels in the pelvic region, ultimately helping to ease uterine pain. Data from self-reported diaries say that the tampon was 35% more effective than a placebo at relieving pain within 30 minutes of insertion.
I tried these tampons on the first day of my period, which is always the absolute worst day for me. I usually feel crampy and bloated, and the longing to stay in bed persists all day. But after an hour or so with Daye's CBD tampon in, I felt... better. My period pains weren't as intense.
Of course, despite Daye's data, I wondered if the effects were down to the placebo effect. "There are no published research studies on using CBD for period pain relief," Dani Gordon, MD, a London-based expert in CBD and cannabis medicine previously told Refinery29. "However, it does have well-established, well-studied anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects across a wide range of chronic pain conditions."
Still, putting the substance into your vagina may seem like an extreme step. When I called Mary Jane Minkin, MD, a practising OB/GYN and professor at Yale School of Medicine, to ask her opinion of the product, I thought for sure she'd be aghast. But...
"It's not totally insane," Dr. Minkin says, to my surprise. "There are suggestions that CBD can help with muscle cramps, and certainly if you're inserting something into the vagina you're going to get it in close proximity to the uterus," she continues. "There's not much data, but I doubt that it's terribly harmful." The one piece of advice she'd give a patient who wanted to try these CBD-coated products out would be to maybe not drive after using them, just to be on the safe side.
While more research needs to be done regarding the effects of CBD suppositories against menstrual pain (there are some clinical trials in the works), there's enough anecdotal evidence for some doctors to suggest that they may work.
Unlike tampons, CBD suppositories don't necessarily need to be cleared by the FDA since they are classified as supplements. Currently, the only form of CBD that's approved by the FDA is Epidiolex, a prescription-strength oil used to treat epilepsy. Last spring, the FDA even warned some CBD companies about the claims they were making about their products.
A word of caution: it's probably not the brightest idea to try and create your own CBD tampon with oil, or insert any CBD products that aren't made to go up inside you like that. Be safe, and if you're in doubt, reach for the heating pad.