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The word suppository might sound intimidating, but don't worry. Using them is far less complicated than you think. In general, a suppository is a solid, dose-controlled form of medication that can be inserted either rectally or vaginally. When dissolved, the medication gets quickly absorbed directly into your bloodstream to provide systemic and local effects. Suppositories have become popular for those who can't or don't feel comfortable taking medication orally, or are in need of faster relief than a pill allows. And the same can be said for cannabis consumers who want to experience the plant's therapeutic effect (in this case for muscle tension inflammation, and pain), but don't want to ingest or smoke it. While it may feel unconventional, women have been finding natural relief with cannabis-infused suppositories—and no, they will not get you, or your vagina, high.
If you're still looking for relief and want to ditch the negative side effects of most conventional treatments, suppositories infused with cannabis may be a viable option for getting the job done. That said, make sure to consult your personal doctor before making any changes to your usual medication.
What Are They and How Do They Work?
Cannabis suppositories look and work similarly to any ordinary suppository, except, of course, they’ve been infused with cannabis. These medicinal, dissolvable cylinders are designed to calm muscles around your ovaries, cervix, and uterus which effectively relieves muscle tension, inflammation, and pain—all without causing a "high." When inserted vaginally, chemical compounds including cannabinoids THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) will melt and release their own unique effects in your body. However, the body doesn’t process THC in the same way it would when ingested or smoked.
When cannabis is ingested, THC travels through the liver to the brain which induces mind-alerting effects. When cannabis is smoked, THC travels through the lungs to the villi, then on to the liver. In the case of vaginal application, THC gets released into the bloodstream and avoids first-pass metabolism, which converts THC into 11-hydroxy-THC—a molecule far more psychoactive than THC (also known as delta 9-THC). Instead of causing a high feeling, THC’s psychoactive effects essentially permeate, leaving only the medicinal effects of CBD in your bloodstream which typically start within 30 to 60 minutes.
Cannabinoids and Your Vagina
If you've dabbled in cannabis before, then you may be familiar with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a biological system filled with tons of cannabinoid (CB) receptors that help regulate a number of important bodily functions including mood, appetite, pain, and movement. However, it's important to note that women have CB receptors spread throughout their reproductive system, too. The ECS and reproductive system play a vital role in how women experience relief, pleasure, and pain on a daily basis.
This isn’t necessarily new information, though, as cannabis-based medications were frequently used for promoting women's health throughout history—and very rarely were they administered orally. These early gynecological treatments utilized both cannabis and alternative applications of the medicine, demonstrating how essential cannabinoid receptors in the vagina can significantly decrease pain.
It's not that we are all now beginning to understand the relationship between cannabis and women's health, it's that now it's less taboo to talk about. There are cannabinoid receptors not only in the uterus and vagina, but fallopian tubes, ovaries, and vulva as well. And, cannabinoids such as CBD provide therapeutic effects by binding to the receptors in the vagina where control is exerted in the muscles, glands, hormone secretion, immune cells, and nerves.
What Are They Used For?
Endometriosis is characterized as a condition in which the uterine lining grows outside the uterus, causing severe pain in the body. And that's an understatement. While there are surgical treatments available, there are also more natural and perhaps more cost-effective treatments to try. Because cannabis suppositories can be inserted vaginally, they target pelvic and vaginal pain at the site. CBD helps deceased pain through its interaction with CB1 receptors, allowing more room for relief from chronic pain.
#2 Vulvodynia (Painful Vulva) or Dyspareunia (Painful Intercourse)
If you’re someone who suffers from dyspareunia or vulvodynia, sex can be difficult. It’s said that nearly 75% of women will experience pain during sex at some point in their lives, whether short or long-term. But pleasure should never be painful. With the vulva containing cannabinoid receptors of its own, cannabis suppositories offer fast relief in the pelvic area, as it hones in on specific pain points in the vulva, making you feel at ease and relaxed without negatively affecting your mood or ability to function.
#3 PMS and Menstrual Cramps
Though PMS and menstrual cramps are common, they're also pretty debilitating too. While some aches and pains can be eased with prescription or OTC medications, sometimes that's not enough. Fortunately, cannabis can fulfill that need as well. The vagina itself is extremely porous, making it one of the easiest places for medications to be absorbed. CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties not only work to alleviate tension, but they also simultaneously create relaxation and calmness throughout the body. This offers intense relief when you need it most.
More Research is Coming
Cannabis is a complex plant with a complicated cultural history. Thankfully, with increased cannabis legalization and public acceptance, using cannabis as part of your health and wellness routine is becoming more mainstream (and better researched). Using cannabinoids vaginally is a personal experience. However, the only surefire way to know if cannabis suppositories are worth adding to your vaginal-care arsenal is giving them a try yourself. Here are a few things to remember:
- Cannabis suppositories melt rather quickly when in contact with warm skin. To preserve their use, place them in the freezer until you’re ready to medicate.
- Lay in a horizontal position during insertion to prevent leakage and wait at least 15 to 30 minutes after before going about your day.
- For your first few times, use your cannabis suppositories at night to help gauge any potential effects before using them during the day.
- Feel free to jot down any notes about your experiences to identify what works best for you.