Have painful sex? It might be worth learning about CBD suppositories for pelvic pain. Here's what happened when one writer tried it. The compound is certainly trendy, but the research is scant.
These CBD Suppositories Relieved My Pelvic-Floor Pain and Allowed Me To Finally Experience Pleasure
A s someone with a hypertonic pelvic floor, my pelvic-floor muscles are in a near-constant state of contraction. Think: tight as a closed fist. This situation can make penetrative play painful if not impossible—that is, unless I coax my pelvic-floor muscles into submission ahead of time.
Historically, I’ve been able to do just that with a combination of meditation, external genital masturbation, and breathing exercises. But I recently discovered Foria’s Relief Suppositories with CBD ($50), and they quickly became a mainstay component of my pre-penetrative sex ritual. Even better, these gems aren’t just for people like me who have a hypertonic pelvic floor. Rather, they’re for anyone looking to reduce pain and/or increase pleasure during penetrative play, according to Heather Jeffcoat, DPT, a doctor of physical therapy who specializes in sexual dysfunction and incontinence and author of Sex Without Pain: A Self-Treatment Guide to the Sex Life You Deserve.
Intrigued? Read on to learn how CBD suppositories for pelvic pain and increased pleasure work and what my experience using them has been like.
What is a CBD suppository?
Available in anal or vaginal form, suppositories are bullet-sized solids that dissolve after insertion into your internal anal or vaginal canal. CBD suppositories, specifically, are any suppository that contains cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in the hemp plant.
But how do CBD suppositories differ in function from other items like CBD arousal oil or CBD lube? Well, texturally, suppositories are waxy solids that become liquid only after insertion. This application allows you to access and therefore target the deeper internal tissues than what’s possible with arousal oils or lubes, according to Dr. Jeffcoat.
Many CBD suppositories also contain higher doses of CBD compared to other CBD-infused sexual wellness products. Foria’s suppositories, for instance, contain 100 milligrams of broad spectrum, organic-certified, regeneratively grown active CBD, while the brand’s arousal oil and lube contain significantly less, with 30 milligrams and around 20 milligrams per serving, respectively.
The many uses of CBD suppositories
CBD is a vasodilator, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory, which means that it promotes blood flow, can ease pain, and can reduce inflammation, according to Dr. Jeffcoat. Because the tissues that line the vaginal canal have a high density of endocannabinoid receptors—which allow the body to “register” that CBD is present—using CBD suppositories vaginally can reduce local inflammation and provide targeted pain relief, she says.
The CBD also supports the arousal process by supporting increased blood flow to the erogenous zone, which is a physical prerequisite for the rest of the arousal response (engorged tissues, natural lubrication, pelvic-floor relaxation, vaginal-canal expansion, etc.) taking place, she says.
“Anyone with chronic pelvic pain, as well as anyone with suspected or confirmed endometriosis, vestibulodynia, or vaginismus may benefit [from CBD suppositories].” —Heather Jeffcoat, DPT
So who might consider using the product? “Anyone with chronic pelvic pain, as well as anyone with suspected or confirmed endometriosis, vestibulodynia, or vaginismus may benefit,” says Dr. Jeffcoat. In addition to helping folks with pelvic-floor pain, CBD suppositories can also be useful for those who have high mental and emotional interest in sex but a low physical response, as well as those looking to ramp up genital sensitivity, she says.
That said, Dr. Jeffcoat recommends talking with a pelvic-floor specialist or OB/GYN ahead of giving it a go. While none of her patients have experienced any side effects of using CBD suppositories, covering up sexual pains or hang-ups with something like CBD suppositories rather than learning the root cause and addressing it accordingly is likely to do your body a disservice in the long-term.
Here’s what my experience with CBD suppositories for pelvic pain has been like
I’ve found that stress aggravates my symptoms associated with having a hypertonic pelvic floor (mainly, sexual pain). So, it probably comes as no surprise that in 2020, my penetrative pain was worse than ever. Ugh.
And while the pain became marginally better with the help of the relief protocols that my pelvic-floor therapist recommended, the constant tightness was keeping from having the kind of sex I wanted to be having. (Farewell, strap-on sex!)
But when I came upon a box of unopened, unused CBD suppositories in my closet, I texted my pelvic-floor therapist a photo of the collection, and she suggested giving the one with the highest dosage of CBD a try—which is how I got hooked on Foria.
My girlfriend and I decided to make a date-night out of trying it. We cooked dinner (baked feta pasta), showered together, and then migrated to the bedroom. Immediately after opening the package, we were greeted to the welcome scent of chocolate. (The cocoa butter base has a strong, tootsie-roll inspired aroma).
Next, we each inserted CBD suppository. (She doesn’t have a hypertonic pelvic floor or other pelvic-floor condition, but does have a “try anything twice” attitude). The instructions said to “allow some time for the CBD to absorb into the local tissues.” Ultimately, it took a full 60 minutes for either of us to feel anything. But then we both felt everything.
After an hour, I felt my vaginal walls begin to pulsate, almost the same as they do when I’m close to reaching orgasm. I don’t know if it was the CBD suppositories at work or the hourlong foreplay session that preceded (more likely, it was a combination of both), but shortly thereafter, she was able to finger me in a way that was not painful for me for the first time in a long time. As for her? She reported that every tongue swipe and finger brush felt more electric than usual.
The only downside was how messy the whole ordeal was. We were covered (as were our sheets) in cocoa butter by the time we were finished. But a little mess in exchange for a lot of pleasure and notably less pain? For vulva-owners who experience penetrative pain, like I do, I’d say that’s a damn fair trade.
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Can CBD Prevent Pelvic Pain?
The compound is certainly trendy, but the research is scant.
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I suffer from pelvic pain, specifically vaginismus. I’ve been reading about the benefits of CBD with pain. I was wondering if CBD salves or lubricants were safe to use internally? And if CBD will actually reduce the pain one experiences with vaginismus.
Vaginismus is a medical condition where the muscles of the pelvic floor (the muscles that support the bladder, vagina and rectum) have excessive tension. This can lead to both pelvic pain and pain with sex. There is no data to support using CBD vaginally (or by any other route) for this pain condition. There is some evidence linking cannabis use in the previous four months with increased vaginal yeast colonization, but CBD has not been studied independently.
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CBD, or cannabidiol, is a nonpsychoactive compound found in cannabis. CBD is “in” right now for many medical conditions, not just ones that are painful. The data supporting CBD use for most conditions is generally low quality or completely absent, so it is important to separate the fad from the facts so you can make an informed choice about your body.
CBD may play a role in reducing pain and muscle spasm for some conditions, but there are still a lot of unknowns. An oral spray with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the main psychoactive component of cannabis) and CBD is approved for use in other countries for muscle spasm caused by multiple sclerosis as well as for some kinds of chronic pain. However, it is not possible to directly translate this data to vaginal use or to apply it to a different medical condition.
We do not know how CBD would act vaginally since cannabinoid receptors in the vagina have not yet been studied. We also don’t know how much CBD would be absorbed into the bloodstream or if absorption is needed to produce an effect. (In this case, if the drug has to enter the bloodstream to work, there is probably no benefit to vaginal use).
We also don’t know what effect CBD could have on the pelvic floor muscles. There is one study that tells us natural endocannabinoids actually reduce during sexual excitement, so it is biologically plausible that CBD could increase pelvic floor muscle tone (meaning it would be very unhelpful for spasm). There is also some data that suggests cannabis use is associated with a higher rate of vaginal yeast colonization. We don’t know if this is from the THC, CBD or other cannabinoids.
Essentially, we don’t know what we don’t know about CBD and the vagina. I recommend that any woman (or man) with pelvic floor muscle spasm skip CBD and instead see an Ob/Gyn or urologist with expertise in that area, as well as a specialized pelvic floor physical therapist.
Dr. Jen Gunter, Twitter’s resident gynecologist, is teaming up with our editors to answer your questions about all things women’s health. From what’s normal for your anatomy, to healthy sex, to clearing up the truth behind strange wellness claims, Dr. Gunter, who also writes a column called, The Cycle, promises to handle your questions with respect, forthrightness and honesty.