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More women turn to medical cannabis for menopause symptoms

86% of those in the study use cannabis as an adjunct treatment for menopause-related symptoms.

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Perimenopausal participants reported worse symptoms, including more anxiety and hot flashes. 

A new study has found that a growing number of perimenopausal women are using medical cannabis to treat menopause symptoms such as sleep disturbance, mood and anxiety.

A new study from the North American Menopause Society suggests that it is becoming more common for women to use medical cannabis for menopause-related symptoms. 

Perimenopausal women, who report significantly worse menopause symptoms (particularly depression), represent the greatest percentage of users. 

Hormone changes associated with menopause are responsible for causing a wide array of bothersome symptoms, including hot flashes, sleep disturbance, depressed mood, and anxiety. 

Although several treatment options, particularly hormone therapy, have proven effective in managing these symptoms, not all women are able or willing to use these options. This has led to the ongoing search for alternative treatments.

Several observational studies have previously demonstrated that medical cannabis use is associated with various clinical benefits, including improvements on measures of anxiety, mood, sleep, and pain, as well as cognitive improvement after treatment. 

But no studies to date have examined the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis to specifically alleviate menopause-related symptoms.

In this new study involving more than 250 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women researchers sought to assess cannabis use, including modes of use, and to compare usage patterns between the two groups.

Results suggested that many women (86 per cent) currently use cannabis as an adjunct treatment for menopause-related symptoms via a variety of different modes of use, with the most common being smoking (84 per cent) and edibles (78 per cent). 

The most frequently reported indications for medical cannabis use were menopause-related disturbances of sleep and mood/anxiety.

READ MORE: How medical cannabis is helping women manage menopause symptoms

Compared with postmenopausal participants, perimenopausal participants reported significantly worse menopause-related symptomatology, including more anxiety and hot flashes. 

Perimenopausal women were also more likely to report a higher incidence of depression and anxiety, as well as increased use of medical cannabis to treat these symptoms. Additional research is necessary to confirm the effectiveness of cannabis for the treatment of various menopause symptoms.

Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS medical director, commented: “This study suggests that medical cannabis use may be common in midlife women experiencing menopause-related symptoms. 

“Given the lack of clinical trial data on the efficacy and safety of medical cannabis for management of menopause symptoms, more research is needed before this treatment can be recommended in clinical practice. 

“Healthcare professionals should query their patients about the use of medical cannabis for menopause symptoms and provide evidence-based recommendations for symptom management.”

Study results are published in the article, A survey of medical cannabis use during perimenopause and postmenopause.

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