With the onset of puberty, a girl aged anywhere between 11 and 15 years takes the first baby steps to womanhood. She is initiated into a natural biological process of menstruation, which is a normal phenomenon for procreation. This phase is ordained to last until the end of her reproductive age in the late forties. Driven by abject poverty, lack of education and other shortcomings, especially in rural India, menstruation has come to be associated with impurity and driven by superstitions. This hampers normal maintenance of personal hygiene accentuating several distress factors. Most of the menstruating individuals make do with rags or other unhygienic means to manage this fluid discharge due to factors as diverse as lack of knowledge, accessibility and poverty. Availability of sanitary napkins and biodegradable pads, which is the key to the maintenance of menstrual hygiene, is a distant dream for most women, though the problem is less acute in the urban milieu.
What is menstruation?
Every month an egg is developed and released from the ovary to lodge in the uterus waiting to be fertilized resulting in pregnancy. In the case of failure, the egg or ovum along with the uterine lining holding the egg flows out though the vagina along with some blood. This discharge which lasts for a few days is called menstruation and the entire process is called the menstrual cycle that spans approximately 28 days. On completion of one cycle the next begins.
Coping with menstruation:
Menstrual discharge also requires maintenance of menstrual hygiene, which is again a far cry, making the incidence of infections very common. The use of sanitary napkins somewhat eases the situation, but its inadequacy is monumental. The acuteness of the problem in India can be gauged by the simple fact that about 23% adolescent girls are forced to drop out from schools at puberty, due to lack of basic infrastructure to maintain sanitary hygiene in them. Leave alone access to hygienic sanitary napkins and the lesser known biodegradable sanitary pads, most menstruating women are compelled to suffer the physical trauma and the attached social stigma in silence.
It is taboo for most menstruating women to even discuss issues relating to menstruation. During the periods, girls and women are subject to suffer many infirmities in trying to cope with the natural discharge, which imposes restrictions on their normal activity. Not all women undergo a comfortable menstrual cycle. Since the phenomenon is biological and physiological, with several bodily changes and hormonal secretions involved, many of the menstruating girls and women suffer from physical discomfort called Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), cramps, irregular or severe discharge to name a few. Coping with these debilitating conditions in the Indian context is far from easy. They do not cause severe medical emergencies to develop, but do affect the girls and women in pursuing normal activities.
Menstruation cramps and PMS:
Menstrual cramp is a nagging throbbing pain in the lower abdomen afflicting menstruating individuals just before or during the periods. Menstrual cramps or Dysmenorrhea is caused when the uterus contracts to help its lining to be expelled during menstruation, along with the unfertilized egg. Hyperactivity of Prostaglandins that trigger uterine contractions causes menstrual cramps. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) on the other hand is a change in the emotional and physical state post ovulation when there is a sudden fall in the levels of sex hormones called estrogen and progesterone, affecting predominantly just prior to menstruation. The situation is normalized with rising levels of the sex hormones after the periods.
Relief from menstrual issues:
The use of cannabis is seen to ease menstrual cramps and PMS. It is not a remedy, but a means to help menstruating women relax and feel high easing PMS and the lessening of the severity of pain during menstrual cramps.
How does cannabis work?
Cannabis is a tropical plant and source of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC that mildly numbs the senses making one feel high. It is addictive and known by many names across the world. In the case of menstrual cramps which are caused by uterine contractions, THC helps the muscles to relax and deceives the mind into feeling high with lessened sensation of pain. There is no conclusive evidence to recognize and accept the medicinal value of cannabis, yet the positive effect on certain conditions is proven beyond doubt. Therefore, some products are infused with cannabis to reap the benefit as a relaxant for relief in PMS and menstrual cramps.
Cannabis infused products for a relaxing menstruation:
There are many products where cannabis has been infused to benefit from its relaxing properties:
- Cannabis Rub: The effect of swollen breasts during menstruation due to PMS can be alleviated by using this. Historically, Queen Victoria is known to have used this method.
- Bath Soak: Products infused with THC are perfumed to accentuate the sense of feeling high while bathing. It encourages relaxation to ease painful cramps during menstruation.
- Bath Salts: It is a popular spa massage ingredient to help relax during painful menstruation.
- Weed Tampons: The other name of this product is Cannabis Vagina Suppository. The advantage of this product is its application in the affected zone. This insulates the menstruating individual from being psychoactive as the presence of cannabinoid is localized in the affected part of the body rather than in the brain.
- Cannabis Drop: A few drops in your soda or water can help menstruating women cope effectively with PMS easing headaches, bloating, cramps and irritability.
- Cannabis Brownie: It is an edible, ingestion of which get THC absorbed in all parts of the body. It is a powerful means to cope with PMS.
- Cannabis Chocolate: Who does not like a chocolate, especially spiked with cannabis? A sure way to cope with PMS.
- Cannabis Lotion: Body massage with this lotion rich in cannabinoids can ease the muscles and skin.
- Cannabis Lubricant: It helps arouse sexual impulses at the same time also helps relax from the effects of PMS and cramps.
- Cannabis Oil: A massage with the oil in the back and the abdomen can work wonders as relaxant easing the menstrual cramps. The best part is that there is no psychoactive effect involved in this.
Menstruation is a biological phenomenon in the process of natural procreation, and is best left natural. While use of sanitary napkins and biodegradable pads is an important means to ensure menstrual hygiene, the use of cannabis products can help one undergo a relaxed menstruation. Periods may be painful, but lessening the severity with cannabis relaxants can may life easier.