- What are the benefits of CBD oil for menopause symptoms?
- What can I expect if I take CBD for menopause?
Unfortunately, you may have discovered that the medical system is often
woefully unprepared to deal with the symptoms of menopause. Previous generations of women were so quiet about “the change” that the medical system is only just now waking up to the needs of peri- and post-menopausal women. So, like many others, you may be turning to traditional herbal medicines – like CBD oil – for support, because our great- great-grandmothers were probably on to something.
Most of us never seriously consider menopause until we find ourselves on its doorstep — woefully unprepared to deal with its many symptoms. Some of us might not even recognize these symptoms during the early stages of perimenopause. But the sooner we notice and proactively respond to the changes happening within our bodies, the better our future health.
What Physical Changes Come With Menopause?
Menopause occurs when you’ve gone 12 months in a row without having a period, without the assistance of birth control or surgery.
We often talk about menopause in terms of how it impacts our emotional state — but so many of those mood changes (especially the shorter temper) can be traced back to menopause’s physical impact on the body.
The culprit behind these physical changes is hormonal shifts — especially in the amount of estrogen in the body. Estrogen impacts so much more than just your menstrual cycle; it affects your bones, hair, skin, brain, urinary system, and heart (among others). That’s part of why you’ll likely notice night sweats and hot flashes, and your risk of osteoporosis significantly increases when you’re postmenopausal.
Some of the most significant physical changes associated with menopause’s lack of estrogen impact your sexual health. As the amount of estrogen decreases in the body, it directly influences the anatomy of your vagina.
Not only does the delicate tissue inside the vagina thin out, but the ability to produce enough lubrication to keep sex comfortable may also decrease. Both of these factors can lead to uncomfortable, even painful, intercourse and increase your risk of developing vaginal infections.
Estrogen can also influence your interest in sexual activity — your “libido.” The lower the estrogen (and the higher the progesterone) levels in your system, the harder it is to get both your head and body in the game.
Cannabis & Hemp for Menopause
Menopause is one of the top three reasons women use therapeutic cannabis products — menstruation and sex are the other two. The good reputation that hemp and cannabis-derived CBD products (especially oils) are gaining for soothing peri- and post-menopausal symptoms isn’t based just on testimonials — scientific research also indicates how cannabidiol (CBD) could be useful in soothing the symptoms of many health and wellness issues, including:
- Aches & joint discomfort
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness & bladder control
- Sleep disruptions
- Chronic pain
In this article, we’ll explore how menopause triggers inflammation and brain chemistry changes — which are at the root of most of these symptoms — and how CBD oil for menopause symptoms may be able to help.
More than Estrogen: A Sea of Changes
You’re probably familiar with the estrogen story by now: women are born with millions of immature eggs in their ovaries. Starting at puberty, our bodies are pumped full of estrogen every time an egg matures — approximately once a month. However, over the years, our supply of eggs dwindles. And once all our eggs are gone, our periods stop and the estrogen bursts go away, triggering menopause.
But in reality, menopause is not so clear-cut. For years before menopause (a period called perimenopause), our estrogen levels swing unpredictably high or low before the final plunge. And it’s not just estrogen that goes on a roller-coaster ride — a full supporting cast of hormones that (more-or-less) kept our bodies operating smoothly over the years also begin rebelling.
Controlled by these hormones, countless molecules in our bodies also increase or decrease.
Our brain neurochemistry changes. Our bodies ramp up the production of inflammatory molecules. From brain function to fat accumulation to bone reabsorption — menopause changes the inner workings of our bodies. And each woman’s experience of menopause will be unique.
Menopausal Symptoms: Causes & Support
If menopause has left you feeling like the medical system doesn’t understand your needs, you’re probably right. Scientists are still uncovering why and how our bodies change during menopause.
Much of the information in this article is at the cutting edge of menopause research. It may have never been explained to you by your doctor — but we believe that the more you understand about your symptoms, the easier it will be for you to find support.
Here are some of the most widespread issues women face during menopause:
Aches & Joint Discomfort
What’s going on: Does your body hurt more than it used to? Don’t be so quick to blame it on age – without estrogen, our bodies produce higher levels of inflammatory molecules (specifically, tumor necrosis factor, or TNFα). This means arthritis symptoms could skyrocket during menopause. More than 60 percent of women aged 40 to 64 suffer from muscle and joint discomfort.
How CBD could help: It is more important than ever to soothe inflammation in the body during menopause. Cannabidiol can support our body’s natural inflammatory response. In mice, CBD protects joints against inflammatory damage. Low-impact exercise and dietary changes are also excellent resources in the fight against inflammation.
What’s going on: It’s not unusual for women to experience mental health changes (stress or changes in mood) during menopause. Estrogen and progesterone influence the activity of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain — which directly affect mood. As levels of these hormones become erratic and eventually plummet, your neurochemistry will change.
How CBD could help: If you’re emotionally distressed, you can seek the support of a medical professional. They might suggest therapeutic or pharmaceutical solutions. If you supplement your treatment with CBD oil, it turns out that CBD supports our serotonin receptors. (For more on this topic, read our articles about the different ways that CBD could help soothe stress or feelings of sadness.)
Hot Flashes & Night Sweats
What’s going on: Hot flashes and night sweats are frequently joked about, but in reality, they’re no laughing matter. They disrupt our sleep and daily routines, which can reduce the quality of our lives. These “vasomotor” symptoms are caused by altered neurochemistry in the hypothalamus — your body’s thermostat control. In other words, your body’s cooling system gets switched on too easily.
When tested in the lab, women who suffer from hot flashes are triggered when their body temperatures increase by only 1.5 degrees. In contrast, other women’s bodies don’t switch on the cooling system unless their temperatures increase by almost three degrees.
How CBD could help: Because hot flashes have a neurochemical basis, some SSRIs and antidepressants can help relieve hot flashes. Although there aren’t studies that have specifically tested CBD for hot flashes, its influence on the body’s serotonin system could be one reason why some women swear by CBD for this symptom. Other treatments like therapy, hypnosis, and relaxation techniques that calm the nervous system can also influence your neurochemistry and help reduce hot flashes.
What’s going on: Hormones shape our bodies on many levels, including controlling our metabolism. Without estrogen, our bodies burn fewer calories — even while sleeping — and we also burn less fat during exercise.
Even if you cut calories and maintain a stable weight throughout menopause, the ongoing hormonal shift tells your body to trade in lean muscle mass for abdominal fat. And this pattern of fat storage raises your predisposition to insulin resistance.
How CBD could help: Population studies have found that adults who use cannabis products have healthy insulin levels. Cannabidiol could contribute by switching on genes for healthy metabolism (through the PPAR-γ receptor). CBD also helps buffer the activity of natural endocannabinoids, including 2-AG, linked to insulin resistance.
Vaginal Dryness & Bladder Control
What’s going on: Sexual health and bladder control after menopause might seem like two separate subjects, but they are so intimately related that they are now lumped into a single medical condition.
Estrogen helps keep blood flowing to the pelvic region, delivering fresh oxygen to the tissues of the urinary tract and sexual organs — keeping things elastic and healthy. Once menopause arrives, women should give their pelvis some extra love and attention to keep up the blood flow. (For more on this topic, read our article on sexual health after menopause.)
How CBD could help: Along with regular sexual activity, a topical lubricant that contains cannabinoids like CBD or THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) can support healthy blood flow to the pelvic region. This keeps tissues healthy while also moisturizing the vaginal canal. Topical CBD can also support the body’s inflammatory response, relax muscles, and calm nerves in the vulva and vagina.
What’s going on: Many peri- and post-menopausal women have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. And sleep deprivation can really wear a person down — triggering fatigue and a full spectrum of other health issues. Menopause might disrupt your sleep in a number of different ways, including through night sweats and increased stress.
You’ll need to identify the biggest hurdles between you and a good night’s sleep before you can troubleshoot the best solutions. Track your sleep or ask your doctor about a sleep study if you need help.
How CBD could help: People of all genders and ages report that the effects of CBD help them get restorative sleep. Whether or not CBD could help you get a good night’s sleep depends on the source of your disruptions. CBD’s influence on neurochemistry could help improve sleep for women experiencing sleep troubles or disruptive night sweats.
Self-Directed Care for Menopause
Now, more than ever, is an important time to observe the changes happening within your body and life. Be honest with yourself and others about how much support you need.
Estrogen and progesterone shouldered a lot of responsibilities within your body, and CBD should only be one of many resources that help you through (and beyond) menopause.
CBD: Are You Doing It Right?
For those who are new to the world of CBD, in addition to purchasing a high-quality product, it’s important to optimize your dosage and delivery for the desired effect.
For instance, vape pens deliver immediate benefits that dwindle within an hour or two, whereas oral CBD tinctures take longer to kick in — but their effects can last eight to 12 hours.
One of the best parts of using CBD oil for menopause symptoms is that it’s usually well-tolerated, and most people report very few (if any) side effects. Plus, unlike other products that come from the cannabis plant, CBD is not considered “psychoactive,” which means that it won’t impair you or have mind-altering effects.
For help choosing the best products and optimizing your CBD dosage, check out this article.
Menopause can be a challenging time in your life — your mind and body are changing in ways that can feel sudden and overwhelming. Whether you choose to use CBD oil for menopause symptoms, seek prescription help from your healthcare provider, or white knuckle it, you deserve to continue to have mind-blowing sex for as long as you want it.
Don’t let menopause steal your pleasure — you’re just as capable and sexy when you’re postmenopausal as you were when you were younger. Now go get it.
More articles by: Genevieve R. Moore PhD
Menopause is a major determinant of endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol plasma level and of its relevance as biomarker of dyslipidemia and insulin resistance in lean women | ECE2017 | 19th European Congress of Endocrinology | Endocrine Abstracts
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