Research by Canada’s University of Alberta has found one in three women near menopause transition use cannabis mainly for medical purposes related to symptom management.
The study examined the rates, patterns, and perceived effectiveness of cannabis in managing symptoms that overlap with menopause.
Of the 1,500 participants living across Alberta, 18% were premenopausal, 33% were in perimenopause and 35% were postmenopausal, while a small percentage had undergone surgeries such as a hysterectomy or bilateral oophorectomy. Cannabis rates were consistent across the different menopause stages.
Some 33% of the participants (499) reported using cannabis within the last 30 days, with 75% using for medical purposes such as sleep issues (65%), anxiety (45%), muscle/joint aches (33%), irritability (29%), and depression (25%).
While three-quarters of the women reported cannabis as helping ease their symptoms, they were also more likely than non-users to report sleep, mood and concentration issues and muscle/joint and intercourse pain.
Internet searches (46%) and family/friends (34%) were the two most popular forms of cannabis information and edibles (52%) and oils (47%) were the most commonly used forms.
First author Katherine Babyn said: “Our study confirmed that a large percentage of midlife women are using cannabis for symptoms that overlap with menopause, especially those women who reported more symptoms. In addition, many of these women are claiming to get relief for their symptoms through the use of cannabis.”
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) medical director Dr Stephanie Faubion added: “While we continue to learn that more women are using cannabis to help manage their menopause symptoms, further research is required to assess the safety and efficacy of cannabis for menopause symptom management.”
To date there is little research that has documented how many women use cannabis specifically for medical purposes related to menopause although the concept of using cannabis to manage menopause symptoms is not new.
The detailed results are currently being presented at the The NAMS annual meeting in Washington and the study was funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).