I hate my uterus. I hate the monthly blood and the cramps. I hate that my body thinks it needs to prepare itself each month as if sperm will infiltrate an egg; this messes with my hormones accordingly because apparently it is my body’s ONE JOB is to house a baby I will never carry.
I am queer and nonbinary and the idea of becoming pregnant and carrying a baby is terrifying. (I realize plenty of straight and cisgender women never want to birth babies either.) But for me, the dysphoria that comes with having a female body whose ability to grow said kid is intensified 7-10 days out of the month by my swelling breasts and feelings of being bloated and extra curvy. The typical PMS symptoms are sent to a new level of despair for me in the form of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
The International Association for Premenstrual Disorders (IAPMD) estimates 2-10% of reproductive age menstruaters experience PMDD, and in 2013 it was added to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The diagnosis is relatively new but it is believed to be a genetic disorder that causes drastic and negative reactions to the body’s change in hormones. From insomnia to panic attacks, depression, and suicide ideation, doctors and holistic medical providers are still working out the best treatment for those who suffer from it.
My frustration and lack of body/brain alignment will hopefully be alleviated with gender affirming surgery. But until that can happen I need to do everything in my power to stay mentally well. I didn’t have a name for what I experienced the first time I was flooded with the scary and intense symptoms of PMDD. I went into a sadness and place of despair that paralyzed me. I was invaded with intrusive thoughts. My personality changed. My heart hurt. I wanted the pain to go away, and I scared myself with the thoughts that told me what would stop it.
After a few days of this, I got my period and a day or two later I felt better. I had never been so happy to be bleeding from my vagina. I didn’t put too much thought into what I had just experienced except to hope it never happened again. But it did the next month. And then again. After a few cycles of this, my anxiety of anticipating my crash added to the number of days where I lost productivity and my quality of life. I was a mess. I could not maintain that pattern. So I did some research, asked other uterus carriers about what I was experiencing, and talked to my therapist. That’s when I learned about PMDD.
I also tried to find the best way to stop or control it. The most common forms of treatment for PMDD are SSRI mood stabilizers, birth control/hormone therapy, and in some cases hysterectomies. It’s important to discuss all options with a therapist or professional medical provider, but I found the relief I needed from CBD gummies.
Honestly, relief is an understatement. I got a week or more of my life back each month. While I still experience a low before my period, it’s manageable and is sometimes barely noticeable.
I am already on SSRIs and my therapist and I agree that a large part of my PMDD is my need for gender affirming surgery. Transgender folks who menstruate experience dysphoria and stigma that adds to the depression and anxiety we already feel. I had heard about the benefits of CBD oil for alleviating some of PMDD’s symptoms, so before adjusting my meds I wanted to give it a try.
CBD is a type of cannabinoid and is found in the cannabis plant. Unlike the THC in marijuana, CBD does not cause a high. Depending on where the CBD oil is extracted from, either the hemp or cannabis stavia plant, it will contain trace to higher amounts of THC. Because of the varying ability to legally sell products with high concentrations of THC, most of the easy-to-find CBD products are made from hemp and not cannabis. But it’s important to research the ingredients to be sure.
Because I am an addict, I chose a brand that is THC-free. While trace amounts would not have made me high, it felt like a slippery slope in my recovery to replace booze with THC, but that was a personal choice and one you can make for yourself if you are in recovery or not.
I had heard about the benefits of CBD oil for alleviating some of PMDD’s symptoms, so before adjusting my meds I wanted to give it a try.
There are many ways to use CBD oil: tinctures, creams, edibles, bath bombs, and suppositories (yes, you can put it up your butt or vagina) provide a variety of ways to get the benefits of CBD. You can also experiment with the amount you take. Because CBD oil is not cheap, many places recommend you start with 1 mg and work your way up to see the amount that works for you. I take one 25 mg gummy once a day. For the record, it would take a lot to overdose—20,000 mg in a small window of time.
It took a few months for me to see consistent benefits from using the CBD oil, and because I was paying over $30 a bottle for less than a month’s supply, I was close to stopping if I didn’t see results. But much like my PMDD symptoms seemed to come out of nowhere to knock me over, I realized one month that I was still standing. I had a random weepy and sad day which usually signaled I was about to head into a string of really bad days, but then I got my period the next day. I was shocked. I had another mildly rough day and then I was back to my baseline self. It was amazing. The same thing happened the next month; the time I sink into darkness is considerably shorter and not nearly as dark.
My period had become a huge mountain to work over or through each month, but now it feels more like curb I trip over. My problems are not cured, but I am working on other steps to get to a place of peace. The CBD keeps me moving forward and away from the edge.
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