Cannabis For Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition that affects women. With PCOS, women’s bodies produce too much male hormones (androgen), and this abnormal production may cause them to suffer from missed periods and make fertility a huge challenge. But when you do get your periods and you have PCOS, periods can be extremely painful, and accompanied by severe bloating and cramping. PCOS also causes the ovaries to accumulate fluid-filled sacs (cysts) and prevents it from releasing eggs regularly. PCOS may also manifest through excessive hair growth on the face and body, baldness, and it may increase the risk for developing heart disease and diabetes. When left untreated, PCOS can lead to mood disorders, miscarriages, liver inflammation, endometrial cancer, and high blood pressure.
PCOS affects 1 in every 10 women in childrearing age. The exact cause of this condition isn’t known, though it commonly affects women aged 15 to 44 years of age. Insulin resistance, genetics, and inflammation have all been linked to higher incidence of PCOS in women. Most women with PCOS don’t know that they have it because its primary characteristics (ovarian cysts, irregularly high levels of male hormones, and missed periods) may be attributed to other causes.
Having PCOS does not automatically mean that you can’t get pregnant, but it is going to be challenging. In fact, PCOS is one of the most common reasons why some women can’t get pregnant. While there is no cure for this condition, medications, treatment, and lifestyle changes can help patients manage the symptoms. Some common medications prescribed for PCOS include hormonal birth control (the pill, vaginal ring, patches, IUD); anti-androgen medications, and metformin. As you can see, many of these treatments are extremely invasive. There is also no guarantee that they will help restore normal hormone levels, or assure pregnancy.
How Cannabis Helps
Specific research into cannabis and PCOS is very little, although we do have evidence that it can treat the symptoms and insulin resistance associated with this condition, as well as prevent the conditions that have been linked to PCOS. Hence the increased risk for diabetes if you aren’t managing your PCOS properly. Researchers believe that insulin production plays a crucial role in the development of PCOS. This is key to understanding the connection between the endocannabinoid system and the formation of PCOS. Studies show that women who have PCOS have higher levels of CB1 receptors in their adipose tissue. An overexpression of these receptors lead to insulin resistance, which in turn causes abnormally high levels of androgen production. This imbalance leads to PCOS as well as difficulties in ovulation.
Stress causes insulin resistance as well. If you want to reduce your chances of developing PCOS, it’s in your best interest to engage in healthy outlets for stress as much as possible. When you’re stressed out, your body produces more cortisol, the stress hormone. More cortisol in your body can cause your cells and muscles to develop a resistance to insulin, leading to higher blood sugar. Chronic stress is already wreaking havoc on the human body on its own, but if left untreated, it can contribute to PCOS and fertility issues.
The period pain associated with PCOS can also be severely debilitating. Taking cannabis has proven to be one of the best ways to naturally battle PCOS period pain. There are several studies out there with consistent findings: cannabis does treat period pain. One in particular was published by the British Journal of Pharmacology, which suggests that THC is an effective muscle relaxant; calming tense muscles that contribute to cramps during a period.
Another study revealed that women suffering from PCOS are more vulnerable to stress and depression. Using cannabis or CBD products can help you overcome the emotional side effects that this condition comes with. Dealing with your stress and depression naturally will give you better chances of conceiving.
Overall, using cannabis to regulate your endocannabinoid system may help prevent and treat PCOS. After all, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for almost every physiological process including the reproductive system. In PCOS, the presence of small cysts on the ovaries is an indication of an endocrine and metabolic disorder. Excessive production of androgen and other hormones therefore destabilizes your endocannabinoid system.