Patients Turning to Medical Cannabis for Menopause Relief

More women are using medical cannabis for menopause-related symptoms.

Research from the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) suggests that many women are using medical cannabis as an adjunctive treatment for menopause-related symptoms, with the most common being sleep disturbances and mood/anxiety.1

Researchers conducted a survey of 258 women—131 perimenopausal and 127 postmenopausal—to learn more about their patterns of medical cannabis use. The survey results provided information about patients’ modes and types of use, as well as the specific menopause-related symptoms they were using medical cannabis to alleviate.

Most women reported current cannabis use (86%) and endorsed it to help with menopause-related symptoms (79%). Smoking was the most common method of use (84%), followed by edibles (78%). Researchers found that women were primarily using cannabis to address sleep disturbances (67%) and mood/anxiety (46%).

The greatest percentage of users—perimenopausal women—had worse menopause-related symptomology, including more anxiety (P=0.01) and hot flashes (P=0.04), than postmenopausal women. They also had higher rates of depression (P=0.03) and anxiety diagnoses (P<0.01) and used cannabis more often for treatment than postmenopausal women (P=0.01).

While previous research suggests that cannabis use can improve anxiety, mood, sleep, pain, and even cognition after certain treatments, more research is necessary to determine its potential benefits for women with menopause-related symptoms.

“More research is needed before this treatment is recommended in clinical practice,” said Stephanie Faubion, MD, MBA, medical director of NAMS. “Health care professionals should query their patients about medical cannabis for menopause symptoms and provide evidence-based recommendations for management.”2

Future research should investigate the impacts of different medical cannabis characteristics—or cannabinoid profiles—on the efficacy of use for menopause-related symptoms, the authors wrote.

With perimenopausal women experiencing higher rates and prevalence of mood/anxiety symptoms, the study authors think they may be promising targets for future clinical trials of cannabinoid-based therapies.

This article originally appeared on Contemporary OB/GYN.

References

  1. Dahlgren MK, El-Abboud C, Lambros AM, Sagar KA, Smith RT, Gruber SA. A survey of medical cannabis use during perimenopause and postmenopause [published online ahead of print, 2022 Aug 2]. Menopause. 2022;10.1097/GME.0000000000002018. doi:10.1097/GME.0000000000002018
  2. Petridis E. Accessed August 29, 2022. https://www.menopause.org/docs/default-source/press-release/cannabis-use-increasing-for-meno-symptoms.pdf