Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects anywhere from 8-20% of women of reproductive age around the world. The Huffington Post places the figure at closer to 10% in the United States, but that still equates to 5 million women in America alone. It is a frustrating and life-changing condition for sufferers, but perhaps things are about to change with the news that marijuana could be effective for those with PCOS.
In this article we will review; what is PCOS, how medical marijuana can help treat this condition and which marijuana strains are best to use.
What is PCOS?
In simple terms, PCOS is an imbalance in a woman’s hormones (too many male hormones and not enough female ones) which potentially interferes with ovulation and makes it harder to get pregnant. If you have PCOS, your ovaries will become enlarged and possibly contain a variety of structures that look like cysts (sometimes known as immature ovarian follicles).
If PCOS is left untreated it can have a serious impact on your life; potentially changing your appearance, hampering your ability to have children and even damaging your long-term health. It is the most common cause of infertility in the United States.
Although researchers are aware that there are genetic and environmental factors at play, they don’t know the exact causes of PCOS. The symptoms run in families, so the syndrome is probably caused, in part, by a mutation in one or more genes. An animal study in 2016 suggests PCOS could be caused by chemical or genetic changes that happen in the womb.
The majority of PCOS symptoms are caused by excessively high levels of certain hormones known as androgens. The ovaries produce chemicals (hormones) that control the body’s functions. One of the most important hormones created by women is estrogen. However, the body also creates androgens, and while men usually create far more than women, sufferers of PCOS create excessive levels of androgens and not enough estrogen.
What are the Symptoms of PCOS?
First and foremost, there are three main symptoms used to diagnose PCOS:
- Ovulation does not occur regularly. This is because the excessive androgens interfere with signals from the brain which normally occur during ovulation.
- Ovarian cysts.
- High levels of androgen.
However, women with PCOS may also experience the following:
- Menstrual Irregularities; including regularly missing periods, extremely heavy periods, no menstrual periods (amenorrhea), and bleeding without ovulation.
- Weight gain
- Hirsutism; a condition that results in excessive hair growth on the face, belly, chest and upper thighs.
- Oily skin
- Pelvic pain
- Severe late-onset acne that can’t be treated by regular means.
- Patches of thick, dark skin. This condition is known as acanthosis nigricans.
What is Life Like With PCOS?
Women who suffer from PCOS live in a terrible world of uncertainty; not knowing whether or not they can have a child is one of the worst feelings there is. It also makes you question your femininity, especially if you are hit with symptoms such as excessive weight gain and extra body hair. Weight loss is extremely difficult, especially as the condition reduces your energy and motivation levels.
Conventional Remedies for PCOS
As PCOS has a wide range of symptoms, the treatment you’ll receive depends on what is happening to you. Women who don’t want to become pregnant can take oral contraceptives which help regulate menstrual periods, reduce androgens, clear acne and reduce hair growth.
Other medications include anti-androgens, but they must be taken with oral contraceptives as they cause congenital disabilities. There are also insulin-sensitizing agents designed to stabilize your level of glucose and ensure your body is more responsive to insulin.
There are several options to try and treat infertility that arises from PCOS. Common medications include Letrozole, Gonadotropins, Metformin, and Clomiphene.
Medical Research on Marijuana and PCOS
There have been hardly any medical studies relating to marijuana and its direct impact on women with PCOS. While there is no evidence to date which suggests marijuana can help cure PCOS, research shows that it could be effective against depression, a common problem experienced by women with PCOS.
A 2005 study by Hollinrake et al. showed that women with PCOS were more likely to suffer from depression than the general population. It is also likely that cannabis users have a lower percentage of body fat than the overall population which means it could be used to control weight gain. Other benefits of marijuana for PCOS sufferers include a reduction in body pain and reduction in anxiety.
5 Best Marijuana Strains for PCOS
1 – AC/DC (The Marijuana Strain That’s a Pain Relieving Rockstar)
This hybrid marijuana strain is an excellent choice for PCOS sufferers who want to ease their pain but also get plenty of work done. ACDC generally has a maximum THC level of 6% against a CBD level of up to 20%. The high CBD: THC ratio doesn’t produce any psychoactive effects on the body.
AC/DC is a cross between Ruderalis and Cannatonic, and since it doesn’t alter your mind, it is the ideal marijuana strain for pain management during the daytime. If you decide to smoke it, you’ll enjoy the lingering fragrance with pine and Earth notes.
2 – Pennywise (The Euphoric Daytime Marijuana Strain)
This indica dominant marijuana strain (70%) is a cross between a pair of sativas, Harlequin and Jack the Ripper, and contains up to 15% THC and 12% CBD. The CBD level reduces the psychoactive effects of Pennywise which makes it a good option for daytime medication.
Although it works well during the day, please note that Pennywise provides you with a relaxed and even sedative feeling so don’t overdo it! Ultimately, however, you end up with a relatively ‘clear-headed’ high and a nice feeling of euphoria.
3 – Blackberry Kush (A Tasty Night Time Marijuana Strain)
This indica marijuana strain is extremely potent at 20% THC, and we recommend using it as a night time medication if the pain of PCOS keeps you awake. It is guaranteed to give you a hard and fast body high which quickly puts you in the relaxation zone.
The sweet and heady Kush aroma isn’t as strong as you might expect given the herb’s potency but it does offer a beautiful blackberry taste that gives it its name. One final note, you won’t need much Blackberry Kush to get the effect you desire.
4 – Chocolope (The Marijuana Strain For the Experienced User)
This sativa dominant hybrid (95%) contains up to 21% THC, and its potency means it is best reserved for evening and night time use. Women with PCOS sometimes suffer from insomnia and depression and Chocolope is one of the best marijuana strains for dealing with both.
It is a bit energizing and provides you with a happy and uplifting experience. You will probably be fooled by the taste because while it offers a sweet and enticing aroma, it tastes a little sour which should be a treat for the senses.
5 – Pineapple Express (The Famous Movie Marijuana Strain)
This sativa dominant (60%) marijuana strain contains a whopping 25% THC and is the subject of the famed movie of the same name. Although Pineapple Express is a relatively strong marijuana strain, it is not as potent as depicted in the film. Nonetheless, it does give you a body-numbing buzz that does an excellent job of relieving anxiety and stress.
It is one of the sweetest buds you’ll ever try because it really gives off a hint of pineapple as you inhale. It is a rare herb that can energize and relax you all at once, but Pineapple Express achieves this and then some.
Final Thoughts About Marijuana and PCOS
Millions of women are forced to live with PCOS and the uncertainty it brings. While there are numerous medications on the market, several of them come with major side effects including potential congenital disabilities. In contrast, marijuana is an all-natural way to take the edge off the pain, depression and other symptoms associated with PCOS.