Cannabis is used for an incredible array of health issues: it can alleviate anxiety, help with sleep, increase appetite, and treat chronic pain. It's also a safer alternative to alcohol. And in the modern legal marketplace, many women are incorporating cannabis into their wellness routines as an alternative to prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies aimed at reproductive and sexual health.
A recent survey of 1,011 women across the United States found that two-thirds of respondents said they use cannabis products, while more than one-third of them claimed to have used it to treat gynecological issues. There's also evidence, as reported by Project CBD, that cannabis can have a positive effect on sexual health by reducing anxiety and pain, which are common barriers to a positive sexual experience for many women.
The conversation about women's health and self-care products has come a long way from Summer's Eve and scented tampons. Today, cannabis products for women range from THC tinctures and bath soaks to cannabis suppositories and CBD oils.
The conversation about women's health has evolved
Women have found relief with cannabis for centuries, especially when it comes to menstrual pain. In “Women and Cannabis: Medicine, Science, and Sociology,” authors Ethan Russo, Melanie Creagan Dreher, and Mary Lynn Mathre note that cannabis suppositories were used in Egyptian pharmacopeia, documented as long ago as 3,000 BCE.
Recently, Weedmaps reported that some cannabis brands are prioritizing the health of their workers with a focus on women's wellness. LH Manufacturing, the parent company of Whoopi & Maya, enacted a “moon day” policy for workers, allowing them to take a day off during their menstrual cycle. The company also provides free sanitary products for employees.
Peak Extracts, a woman-owned and run cannabis company in Oregon, provides samples of their products to employees coping with menstrual cramps. And Quim co-founders Cyo Ray Nystrom and Rachel Washtien have committed to keeping women's health a priority in their business. “Our mental, physical and general health is the most important thing,” Washtien said.
On the Weed+Grub podcast (disclosure: I host this podcast), Nystrom said the core mission of Quim is to create products that help foster sustainable practices of self-care. And by that, “We mean including your vagina in your self-care routine.”
While studies have found that cannabis can provide pain relief, and improve libido, there haven't been any high-quality studies to determine whether cannabinoids can be effective in helping endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and other female-specific infections. Still, many women try cannabis products to help with their female-specific ailments and report finding relief. Nystrom developed Quim after years of suffering from a cycle of urinary tract infections and yeast infections. After researching other vaginal health products, she decided to make her own with cannabis as a main component. A CBD topical can be helpful as an anti-inflammatory post-sex, or if you experience pain from penetration or menstrual cramps, Nystrom said.
Kiana Reeves, chief brand educator for Foria, said on Weed+Grub that the conversation surrounding pain relief specifically for women has shifted and that some OB/GYNs are now recommending cannabis products to alleviate symptoms associated with menopause, pelvic pain, painful intercourse, vaginal dryness and more.
Cannabis products for women's health and sexual wellness
There are a variety of cannabis-infused products designed for women who want to incorporate THC and/or CBD into their wellness routine. Applied in topical form, THC is non-intoxicating — the cannabinoid penetrates skin and muscles for localized relief. Topicals can be a good choice for someone seeking the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the “high” associated with smoking, vaping or eating THC.
On the other hand, tinctures containing THC are absorbed into the bloodstream and have an intoxicating effect. If you're seeking pain relief, a THC-rich tincture may be the answer — just make sure you start with a small amount and go slowly to find the correct dosage for your system.
And for those in states without access to legal cannabis, there is an ever-evolving selection of CBD products on the market — even at your local drugstore. Walgreens recently announced that it will sell hemp-derived CBD topicals and sprays. Additionally, many CBD companies will ship directly to the consumer, so you can shop from home.
Cannabis products for menstrual pain
Founded by Whoopi Goldberg and award-winning topicals and edibles maker Maya Elisabeth, Whoopi & Maya's bath Soak and Rub body balm are designed specifically to relieve menstrual discomfort with THC and CBD. The medical cannabis soak combines Epsom salts with cannabis and deliciously scented therapeutic essential oils, promoting a state of deep relaxation and relief as you bathe. Rub is a beeswax-based topical containing 50 milligrams of THC per jar which can alleviate cramping and provide relief from sore joints and back pain.
Whoopi & Maya is only available in California and Colorado. In Colorado, you can try Relax, a 100 milligram THC tincture containing herbs like motherwort and cramp bark, which are thought to benefit the female reproductive system.
Foria Relief is a unique offering: it's a cocoa-butter suppository that delivers 60 milligrams THC and 10 milligrams CBD of full-spectrum cannabis directly to the vagina to soothe menstrual and pelvic pain. If you're not in California or Colorado, a CBD version of Relief is available.
Cannabis products for sexual pleasure
Vaginal serums and lubricants make up a significant portion of topicals aimed at women. One newly launched CBD topical, Vella, is designed to enhance sexual pleasure. Vella has a “proprietary liposomal nanoencapsulation formulation,” according to the company's website, and promotes muscle relaxation and increased blood flow. It's compatible with condoms, so it's a good option for partners practicing safer sex.
Quim also offers a line of self-care plant-based health products for women. This woman-owned and operated company has several topicals for “humans with vaginas, and humans without vaginas who love vaginas” in both THC and CBD formulations. Happy Clam Oil, with 30 milligrams of hemp-derived CBD per bottle, which, according to Quim's website, is intended for daily use and to be thought of as “an eye cream for your vagina.” Night Moves intimate oil and Oh Yes! Latex-safe serum both contain THC and are only available in California dispensaries. Quim's Smooth Operator is an intimate serum-containing hemp CBD and is available to ship nationwide.
Dazy CBD Lube is another intimate oil that's safe to use with silicone toys and latex condoms. XES is a hemp-CBD vaginal serum that features a uniquely designed ergonomic applicator. Kush Queen Ignite CBD lube, Infinite CBD Big Bang, High On Love Stimulating Oil — there are plenty of options to try if you're interested in incorporating CBD into your sex life.
Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps