It starts with smouldering heat and turns into a blazing fire: period cramps. For some of us, it feels more like an uncontrollable wildfire of agony. Does this ritual sound familiar? If you have ever felt the sensation of “a fist unfurling in my uterus,” as Girls writer and endometriosis advocate Lena Dunham once wrote, your cramps could be more than just cramps. 

Just over 1 in 10 of us blessed with menstrual cycles have endometriosis, but only a fraction ever receives a diagnosis. Many are dismissed as having normal period pain, or worse, faking it. Recent studies indicate women feel pain more and more intensely than men. However, they are less likely to receive pain medications and seven times more likely than men to be misdiagnosed and discharged in the middle of a heart attack.

Dysmenorrhea is the diagnostic word for a slasher film premiering in-utero and the hallmark symptom of the disease. In general, pain is the star of the show. Pain before, during and after your period, pain with sex and pain with bowel and bladder function. Other symptoms include bloating, fatigue, nausea and diarrhea, especially during your period. “It doesn’t manifest externally very often; the symptoms just look like a pair of sweatpants and a Charlize Theron–in–Monster–level grimace,” Dunham writes in her endo exposé The Sickest Girl

Treating period pain with cannabis

Studies have indicated no correlation between the amount of endometriosis present and pain. So even if there is only a little, it can hurt a hell of a lot. Laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery is the only way to find out exactly how much, but many women find pain relief in other ways — such as cannabis.

Cannabis and gynecology go way back. Queen Victoria’s physician famously prescribed cannabis for her period pain in the early 19th century before prohibition. Today, women around the world continue to find reprieve by combatting endometriosis with cannabinoids. One in ten endometriosis patients report using cannabis to treat their pain, and these are just a few of the best strains for endometriosis and period pain:

Photo by Sora Shimazaki

Pink Kush

A Canadian classic, this 90/10 indica dominant hybrid smells good, burns good and when you’re in pain — feels so, so good. At between 18 to 20 percent THC on average, Pink Kush delivers a powerful body high that knocks pain out flat.

Cannatonic

Although more research is needed, evidence suggests high THC strains provide the most pain relief for menstrual pain. However, individual tolerance to high levels of THC is variable. It’s important to have pain relief options that don’t come with intoxication or potential side effects. Enter: Cannatonic. Despite the name, this 17 to 20 percent CBD dominant strain won’t leave you proverbially catatonic. This tonic is true medicinal cannabis ­— with little to no psychoactive effects and powerful analgesic properties, Cannatonic is an essential strain for those with period pain.

Pure Love

While ibuprofen can decrease heavy bleeding by 25 to 30 percent while decreasing prostaglandin production, they aren’t M&M’s. At 2:1 CBD to THC, Pure Love is an excellently balanced hybrid. With legendary analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s a perfect strain for period pain. Pure Love offers the therapeutic benefits of THC with a complimentary high CBD profile. Pure Love is just that, top-notch pain relief without an intense head high.

Endometriosis is not the only cause of painful periods, though. It’s important to go through the diagnostic process with a doctor. Other causes of painful periods include adenomyosis, uterine fibroids and pelvic inflammatory disease — but don’t dismiss the pain. If it hurts, it hurts, and it’s not normal.

Let us know in the comments your favourite strain for period pain. And, follow along with our ongoing series about how the Covid vaccine affects menstruation.

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