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 practicing 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.
The catch? These tampons can be shipped to the UK, Ireland, and the Netherlands, but they aren't available in the U.S. — yet. Unlike supplements, tampons are classified as medical devices in the U.S. That means Daye needs FDA clearance before they can sell them here. They're allegedly on their way to getting the okay, but there's no word on how long it could actually take.
You can find CBD suppositories in the U.S., though, which are supposed to have similar benefits. "The vagina is another route of delivery for drugs and plant-based products, including CBD," Dr. Berman says. Unlike tampons, CBD suppositories dissolve. They typically look like large pills, and can be inserted through the vagina or the rectum, so people without vulvas can experience the effects as well. The suppositories, Dr. Berman says, were created for menstrual cramps, prostate pain, pelvic pain, and painful sex.
After creating the CBD company called Mello, Boronia Fallshaw was focused on the ingredient's benefits for vulvodynia, a chronic pain in the vulva that may be related to inflammation or nerve injury. The brand decided to roll out Mello Bottoms, a CBD suppository. "Taking a suppository treats the local area and removes inflammation and pain," she tells Refinery29. "You remove that barrier and your body will kick into action, and do what it’s supposed to do — promote muscle relaxation, blood flow, and arousal in our sexy areas." In addition, she says, the product can help with dryness, IBS pain, or cramps.
"The cool thing about these tampons and suppositories is that they're being directed at the primary symptom, which is pain," Dr. Berman says. "Administered vaginally, [CBD] works quickly and is effective."
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 be 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.