With more states legalizing medical marijuana, businesses are exploring its potential for pain relief, including as a way to alleviate menstrual cramps. But there’s one potential issue with this approach: the pain-killing potential of pot may be weaker for women. A new analysis in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that men are less sensitive to pain after smoking weed, but women aren’t.
The subjects in the two studies that were analyzed dunked their hands in cold water, and the time it took for them to withdraw their hands was measured, along with their reports of pain. Men experienced less discomfort under the cold water after smoking weed than they did normally, while women didn’t. “Sex-dependent differences in cannabis’s analgesic effects are an important consideration that warrants further investigation when considering the potential therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for pain relief,” the authors conclude.
However, lead author Ziva D. Cooper told Broadly that this doesn’t mean all hope is lost on weed as a treatment for period cramps or other types of pain in women. In fact, women tend to become desensitized to cannabis more quickly, and since the people in the study were regular smokers, this could explain the results.
Cooper also addressed the growing market of cannabis-based period products, from Whoopi Goldberg’s salve and edibles to FORIA’s weed tampons. It’s not that these products don’t work—we just need more research to see if they do.
So, if you’ve found that smoking or using cannabis-based products helps you out during your period, this isn’t necessarily a reason to stop. Even if it’s the placebo effect, any trick you find that makes getting through that time of month easier could be worth hanging onto.