Vulvodynia can be very uncomfortable, plus it gets in the way of intimacy with partners. CBD and CBD oil for Vulvodynia might be the solution you've been looking for. Women are often told that pelvic pain, pain during sex, or nonspecific vulvar/vaginal discomfort are all in their heads, or not a big deal — just part of being female. Why women’s accounts of their own pain fall on deaf ears is a question that’s thorny, complex, and often infuriating. Vulvodynia pain can make everyday activities painful. Women are turning to Marijuana and CBD for Vulvodynia potential pain relief. See what the science says.
Can You Use CBD for Vulvodynia?
Any woman with vulvodynia wants shot of this awful pain, as soon as possible. Vulvodynia can be incredibly uncomfortable, plus it gets in the way of intimacy with partners, which is frustrating and even depressing. There are various approaches to treating vulvodynia, but no one-size-fits-all treatment. However, CBD (and abbreviation of Cannabidiol), is one of the closest things to a cure-all we know of… but can you use CBD for vulvodynia? Absolutely.
Our ancestors have long been using cannabis to treat pelvic pain, but it is only recently being embraced in modern society. First, let’s take a look at what CBD is: CBD is just one of more than a hundred naturally occurring compounds found in hemp (or marijuana). Hemp is the term generally used to classify varieties of cannabis with 0.3% or less THC content (the compound that gets you stoned), although the difference between cannabis and hemp is more complex than just that.
Don’t worry about getting high while using CBD for vulvodynia; it’s easier to get CBD products with little to no THC content, since those are legal, whereas THC is often not. CBD oil products are made from high-CBD, low-THC hemp.
Why use CBD for vulvodynia?
There are a few reasons for using CBD to treat vulvodynia. Firstly, CBD is famous for its pain relieving qualities, and no area of the body is exempt from that. It is also known to reduce anxiety, which is an issue for many women with vulvodynia. They have negative associations with sexual intercourse because of the pain they feel during penetration.
The benefits don’t end there, either. CBD can relax muscles, which helps vulvodynia because when you anticipate sexual pain, your muscles are likely to contract. This can worsen the pain of vulvodynia, or lead to vaginismus. If you insert a CBD suppository or apply CBD products to the vulva, you may be surprised at just how effective the relaxation and pain relief is.
To summarize, CBD helps with the following vulvodynia symptoms:
- Tight muscles
The CBD can desensitize the nerves in the genitals, as well as reducing any inflammation present (which can be a side effect of vulvodynia in some women). CBD limits your body’s ability to feel pain signals, but also works on pain by targeting the same enzymes Ibuprofin targets, thus reducing prostaglandin production. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that promote pain, inflammation and fever.
Why else should you use CBD for vulvodynia? It’s an aphrodisiac!
Here’s another major USP for CBD. Cannabinoids actually work as an aphrodisiac for many women, and when applied directly to the vulva, can increase sexual pleasure. That’s because when applied to the skin, phytocannabinoids increase blood flow to the area, which is what happens when you get aroused naturally.
Whether you smoke a bit of cannabis or apply some oil topically, CBD oil or cream is a wonderful addition to your sex life. Note that if you smoke cannabis, you’re going to feel the effects of THC too. However, if you apply a CBD product to your skin, you are unlikely to experience any psychoactive effects.
Can You Use CBD for Vulvodynia? Yes… and Here’s Why it Works
Strains containing a lot of CBD are the best for inflammation reduction, and they won’t get you stoned. Some feel that the best strains for pain relief are those with both CBD and THC content. If you do want a product containing THC (as many with chronic pain do), even one with less than 6% THC content will still help to calm and relax you.
- Indica strains are believed to be physically sedating, perfect for relaxing with a movie or as a nightcap before bed.
- Sativas are said to provide invigorating, uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects.
- Hybrids are thought to fall somewhere in between, offering a balance of indica and sativa effects.
Vaginal Dilators paired with CBD is a great treatment option. Vuva Vaginal Dilators sets are used to regenerate vaginal capacity, expand the vaginal walls, add elasticity to the tissues, and to allow for comfortable sexual intercourse. VuVa Magnetic Dilators are smooth lightweight plastic, that come in a variety of graduated sizes. Using Dilators with CBD maximizes your pelvic floor physical therapy. To shop dilators click here.
You may find this article on CBD for pelvic pain useful if you would like more information on the topic. We hope that you will be able to reap the rewards of CBD for your vulvodynia… good luck, and don’t forget to check out our blog for plenty of other information on vulvodynia and similar conditions.
Freedom from Pain: Women, Healing, and Hope
Get a group of people with vulvas in a room and ask them to talk about pain — specifically genito-pelvic pain — and whether they’ve had any luck getting doctors to take it seriously, and it’s a good bet you’ll hear some pretty upsetting stories.
Women are often told that pelvic pain, pain during sex, or nonspecific vulvar/vaginal discomfort are all in their heads, or not a big deal — just part of being female. This has been going on for centuries, arguably ever since a lady had a conversation with a snake over an enticing-looking apple.
Women’s accounts of their own pain often fall on deaf ears, for reasons that are thorny, political, complex, and often infuriating.
However, times may finally be changing. Women demand answers. They’ve taken to social media to discuss their experiences, and learned that they’re not alone — and we’re all beginning to have a broader vocabulary for our pain, beyond the dismissive “female trouble” of bygone eras.
Talk To A Doc
If you have pelvic pain, vulvar/vaginal pain, and/or pain during sex, don’t dismiss it. It’s important to rule out serious, potentially life-threatening conditions such as cancer, infections or ectopic pregnancy, and you should see your doctor right away.
If they dismiss or belittle your experience, find another doctor — but if they’re sympathetic and still don’t find anything obviously wrong, there may be other reasons for your discomfort.
Diagnosis is often a tricky process, especially if you have to negotiate indifferent providers, and especially since our vocabulary for these issues is so limited. Pelvic pain conditions can be interrelated to one another. You may suffer from more than one, or your symptoms may not perfectly fit a recognized syndrome.
However, it’s possible to get a ballpark idea of what you might be dealing with – and just because “conventional wisdom” tells us to suck it up and get used to it, all hope is not lost.
Women are learning to manage their pain in new and innovative ways. They’re beginning to speak out about it… and giving the problem a name is often the most empowering place to start.
Vulvodynia is chronic vulvar pain that lasts three months or longer and doesn’t have an immediately identifiable cause. There are two main subtypes, localized and generalized vulvodynia.
The localized type results in pain in one spot, often the vestibule or vaginal opening (a condition formerly known as vulvar vestibulitis), and the generalized type is more diffused or may move around.
Vulvodynia pain can be either provoked (with flareups occurring after pressure or penetration) or spontaneous (when pain occurs for no obvious reason). It’s most often described as burning, stinging, aching, or general soreness, and it can be constant, or it can come and go.
It’s speculated that vulvodynia may result from multiple factors interacting together, possibly including inflammation (local or systemic), pelvic floor dysfunction, or even nerve damage.
Vaginismus is an involuntary contraction of the muscles of the pelvic floor. It can make penetration — via sexual intercourse, a tampon, or a gynecologist’s speculum — difficult or impossible.
Pain can range from mildly uncomfortable to severe, varying from woman to woman. Sometimes vaginismus crops up seemingly out of nowhere, even after pain-free years.
Anxiety is often a factor in vaginismus — which isn’t the same thing as a problem being “all in your head.” Anxiety causes very real physical symptoms that tend to cascade and build on one another, and symptoms can actually be worse if you’re anticipating the pain and tensing up.
But other factors may come into play, such as inadequate lubrication, menopause , side effects of medication and the aftermath of surgery.
Interstitial cystitis is a chronic condition causing pain centered on the bladder. Symptoms often mimic the pelvic discomfort and burning urination of a urinary tract infection, but won’t respond to the usual course of antibiotics.
Along with pain, IC can cause urinary urgency, a frequent need to urinate that may disrupt sleep, and, often, a great deal of emotional distress.
The causes of IC aren’t clear. It can be found alongside other pain conditions like fibromyalgia, and some speculate that it’s triggered by allergies or hidden autoimmune disorders.
Systemic inflammation may also be a factor. Regardless, it can result in serious disruptions to a woman’s quality of life, and there’s no known cure.
Strategic management of symptoms may offer some relief.
“The change” is another fact of women’s lives that weren’t adequately addressed until recently… and still isn’t, really. The hot flashes, mood disturbances, and decreased libido most commonly associated with menopause are, hardly coincidentally, the symptoms most likely to affect other people in a woman’s life. Women are so often told they have to live for others; but what about their own experiences?
Up to half of all women experience genital pain after menopause, usually associated with sex but not always. This is the result of hormonal changes, especially lowered estrogen, that can decrease lubrication, thin vaginal tissues and reduce elasticity. Dryness causes friction, friction causes pain, and pain can cause anxiety, which exacerbates the issue.
It’s recommended that women use a quality lubricant post-menopause, and, counterintuitively, have more sex – alone or with a partner. Arousal improves bloodflow and tissue elasticity.
Non-identified chronic pelvic pain conditions
Female genital anatomy is wonderfully complex, with vast networks of interconnected nerves and structures working together to keep our engines running. But this complexity means that any minor disruption may cause major effects.
Old or new injuries, lifestyle stress, seemingly unrelated illnesses, nerve damage, even a lousy office chair or inadequate exercise can result in genital or generalized pelvic discomfort.
And often, it isn’t even possible to pinpoint causes. Nothing seems “wrong”. but it hurts.
Pelvic Scar Tissue
Scar tissue can result from surgery, gynecological procedures, and birth injuries as well as from sexual trauma.
Scar tissue can restrict blood flow and tissue oxygenation and (just like chronic inflammation) scar tissue creates imbalances that lead to more scarring, more inflammation, and more pain.
A physician may ignore psychological trauma because there’s not yet a pill to prescribe for it, even though it may be a major factor in the sexual pain that many women experience.
The physical tension and deep-seated fear that can result from psychological trauma — whether it be the result of sexual violence, or the sexual shame and confusion imposed disproportionately on women, or both.
Considering the high rates of sexual assault in the US and around the world, it is safe to say that trauma should be another area that is addressed when working with pelvic pain. But the relationship between our life experiences and our physical bodies is often dismissed in mainstream medical discourse as “psychosomatic” when, in reality, this mind-body connection could prove to be a powerful avenue for healing.
Somatic therapies such as Somatic Experiencing and EMDR are proving to be beneficial for healing trauma. And there’s compelling evidence that CBD can support those experiencing PTSD (similar to the way it seems to benefit depression ).
We’ve also found that our CBD arousal oil can be a powerful ally in the quest to release old hurts and reawaken new pleasures. In this video , the formulator of Awaken Arousal Oil with CBD discusses sexual trauma with our Chief Education Officer, exploring the way that aroma can be a healing tool for rewiring our responses to triggering situations.
In addition to the above therapies, a sexological bodyworker is more likely to understand the connection between traumatizing experiences, dysregulation of the nervous system and tension and pain within the body .
Healing Solutions from Unexpected Quarters
At Foria, we’re working to advance our collective understanding of the power of cannabinoids, and w e plan to continue expanding our collective understanding of the role of cannabinoids in women’s health & healing. It’s been quite a journey so far.
We hear from so many women who have struggled with gynecological pain for years, and whose quest for relief has taken them down terribly frustrating paths.
We’re privileged and grateful to hear their stories, which – not too terribly long ago – might have gone entirely unspoken.
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Why Women are Turning to Marijuana for Vulvodynia Pain
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) affects the central nervous system (CNS), or the brain, as well as the peripheral nervous system, which includes nerve endings in the female reproductive system. Endocannabinoids are fat-soluble neurotransmitters in our bodies that affect pain perception, appetite, and more in our body. It works with both the nervous system and the endocrine system, which regulates reproductive hormones through both cannabinoid receptor CB1 and cannabinoid receptor CB2 ( 8 ).
CB1 receptors are mostly located in the brain while CB2 receptors are in the peripheral parts of the immune system. CB2 receptors have been found in the ovaries as well as vaginal tissues ( 8 ). The CB2 receptors regulate the functionality of the reproductive system. These receptors also allow the body to feel the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) , which is why some women who suffer from vulvodynia and or vaginal or pelvic floor pain choose to use cannabis for pain relief.
Recent preclinical research has suggested that another potential pathway in which THC may reduce labial sensitivity is by the reduction of pro-inflammatory mast cells (a type of white blood cell found in connective tissue) in vaginal tissue. Increases in mast cells are often present in vaginal conditions and are also associated with allergies and other chronic, inflammatory conditions. Conditions like allergies, yeast infections , urogenital infections, depression , and anxiety are associated with an increased risk of this condition ( 3 ).
For more information on how the ECS works, please see our page here .
Cannabis Delivery Methods for Vaginal Pain
Because the vaginal canal has a mucosal lining that can quickly absorb medications into the body, methods that deliver THC and CBD directly in the vagina are a common choice for managing vaginal pain and vulvodynia with medical marijuana ( 5 ). Medical marijuana products that deliver cannabinoids vaginally include CBD or THC suppositories as well and specially formulated personal lubricants that may potentially help with pelvic pain.
When using cannabis and CBD vaginally, it is important to research the quality and ingredients of the CBD products you use to avoid irritation and to speak to your gynecologist first. A diagnosis like vulvodynia can only be made and treated once other potentially serious conditions have been excluded by a healthcare professional.
Different Types of Vulvodynia
As you may or may not know, vulvodynia is more complicated than just vaginal or pelvic pain. In fact, it is defined by chronic pain at the vaginal opening that has an unidentifiable cause ( 9 ). This condition can be hard to treat because the type of pain, severity, and location of the pain vary in each individual. It can also be a difficult diagnosis to make because it is important to distinguish it from other conditions by consulting a healthcare provider first.
Women can experience localized or general forms of this condition, and sometimes both or other subdivision types can co-exist in the same person ( 9 ). More details about these subsets are listed below.
- Generalized vulvodynia (GV) is pain that occurs spontaneously and then is relatively constant, but with periods of symptom relief. Activities that apply pressure to the vulva, such as sexual intercourse or sitting too long, can exacerbate the pain ( 9 ).
- Localized vulvodynia is categorized by pain that occurs on only one part of the vulva. When the pain is located around the vaginal opening, otherwise known as the vaginal vestibule, it is called vestibulodynia. Most women who have vestibulodynia have provoked vestibulodynia (PVD), or pain that occurs with pressure around the vaginal opening, such as during sexual intercourse, tampon insertion, pelvic exams, prolonged sitting, and wearing tightly fitting pants. Clitorodynia occurs when the vulvar pain is in the clitoris ( 9 ).
Women suffering from this condition may choose to seek physical therapy and may be prescribed suppositories as an analgesic (pain reliever).
Existing Research on Cannabis and Vulvodynia
A 2020 research study published in the journal Cannabis used online survey data to help understand the relationship between vulvodynia and symptom relief using cannabis. Symptoms in 38 women with the condition included vulval soreness, burning, stinging, rawness, itching and stabbing pain. The pain examined occurred during sexual intercourse (also known as dyspareunia), prolonged sitting, tampon insertion, wearing tight-fitting pants, and while exercising ( 1 ).
The data showed that the higher in severity of reported symptoms, the more likely the women were to state that medicinal marijuana use helped with those symptoms. The biggest symptoms that women reported were pain with sexual intercourse and stabbing vulvar pain ( 1 ).
Thus, the study suggests that women who experience a higher severity of painful symptoms are more likely to get relief from cannabis as opposed to experiencing relief from symptoms like itching and tampon insertion pain ( 1 ). This small but positive study demonstrates the need for more research on vulvodynia and potential cannabis-based treatment options.
Another study examining the effects of simulated symptoms in mice also shows promising results for human use for vaginal pain . THC and saline were administered into the vaginal canal of mice who were sensitized to vulvar pain. The mice who received the THC and saline mixture experienced a 60% reduction in vaginal pain sensitivity as well as a decrease in local mast cell density ( 3 ). Mast cells are responsible for creating inflammation responses in this case. Until large clinical studies are conducted, the effect of medicinal marijuana on quality of life for those with this condition is unclear.
A Women’s Health Professional Weighs In On Cannabis to Treat Vulvodynia
Dr. Becky Lynn is a board-certified gynecologist and highly respected expert in menopause and sexual health. She conducted a 2020 study that investigated how cannabinoids affect female sexual function. Dr. Lynn explains that the activation of CB1 receptors may lead to increased sexual function due to the relationship between CB1 activation on the secretion of serotonin.
In regards to vulvodynia, Dr. Lynn said:
Vulvodynia is frustrating. There is no visible lesion, but patients still feel excruciating pain. Many times they are told it is all in their head. But it isn’t. The pain is real. Cannabis can help treat vulvodynia.
If you’re interested in learning more or have questions about the medical use of cannabis, feel free to contact a cannabis coach or a medical marijuana doctor on Veriheal’s platform.
Note: Veriheal does not intend to give this as professional medical advice. Do not attempt to self-diagnose, or prescribe treatment based on the information provided on this page. Always consult a physician before making any decision on the treatment of a medical condition.