A study published in Menopause found that women are increasingly using medical cannabis to alleviate menopause-related symptoms. A majority are perimenopausal women who tend to be at greater risk of moderate to severe menopause symptoms such as depression. The study is one of the first to examine the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis treatments for menopause-related symptoms.
The study included 250 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. Perimenopause is the stage leading up to the end of menstruation, and it is characterized by irregular menstruation cycles and other developing physical changes. A woman is considered postmenopausal once menstruation has stopped for twelve consecutive months; the postmenopause stage lasts the rest of a woman’s life.
Researchers aimed to assess and compare cannabis modes of use and consumption patterns between perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. The most common routes of administration included smoking (84.3%) and edibles (78.3%). 86% of the participants currently use cannabis as an adjunct treatment for menopausal symptoms. The most common reasons for consumption included sleep enhancement, mood management, and anxiety relief. Some medical professionals believe cannabinoids help regulate metabolic processes impacted by menopause.
The study found that perimenopausal participants reported significantly worse anxiety, mood swings, depression, and hot flashes than postmenopausal women. They also reported increased cannabis use. Hormone changes due to menopause can cause hot flashes, sleep disturbance, depression mood swings, and anxiety. Hormone therapy is a common treatment, but some women cannot use nonhormonal treatment options due to preexisting health conditions and others prefer a more natural therapeutic approach.
Another research study found that 27% of women use cannabis for menopausal relief. Cannabis has been used for treating menopausal symptoms for centuries, but research on its efficacy of cannabinoids is limited. According to study author and medical director of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Dr. Stephanie Faubion, “Healthcare professionals should query their patients about the use of medical cannabis for menopause symptoms and provide evidence-based recommendations for symptom management.” Further research will promote safe and effective cannabinoid treatment in clinical practice.