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Women find cannabis helpful for menopause symptoms, finds survey

Over a third of women surveyed report using cannabis to manage symptoms including sleep, anxiety and pain.

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Women are increasingly reporting that cannabis helps manage some of the common symptoms.

Over a third of women surveyed for a new Canadian study report using cannabis to help them manage some of the common symptoms of menopause.

According to new research, Canadian women frequently report consuming cannabis products to ease symptoms related to menopause.

Despite a lack of clinical evidence on cannabis specifically in menopause and perimenopause, women are increasingly reporting that it helps manage some of the common symptoms including sleep, anxiety and pain. 

Researchers at the University of Alberta surveyed nearly 1,500 women aged 35 or older. Data was collected on their demographics, menopause status and symptoms, cannabis usage and how they perceived cannabis. 

In total, 35% of women were postmenopausal and 33% perimenopausal, with an average age of 49-years-old. 

Analysis of the responses showed that 34% of women were currently using cannabis, with 66% indicating they had used it in the past. Out of just under 500 current consumers, over three quarters were using cannabis for medical purposes and 74% said they found it helpful for their symptoms.

The most common reasons reported for current cannabis use were sleep (65%), anxiety (45%) and muscle/joint ache (33%). 

The researchers concluded: “Some women are using cannabis for symptoms related to menopause. Further research is required to assess safety and efficacy of cannabis for managing menopause and develop clinical resources for women on cannabis and menopause.”

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

Menopause and cannabis in context 

According to the British Menopause Society (BMS), menopausal symptoms affect more than 75% of women and over 25% describe severe symptoms. Common symptoms include low mood, anxiety, depression, insomnia, low libido, poor memory and brain fog, and last an average of seven years, with one in three women experiencing symptoms beyond this.

The most common treatment for menopause symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), however menopause and perimenopause symptoms have traditionally been poorly understood or acknowledged by the conventional healthcare system, with many women reporting that they have not felt supported by their GP. This could explain why some are looking for alternative options. 

Last year the North American Menopause Society published its own research, suggesting that it is becoming more common for women to use medical cannabis for menopause-related symptoms. 

In a study involving more than 250 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women results suggested that 86% currently use cannabis as an adjunct treatment for menopause-related symptoms via a variety of different modes of use. The most frequently reported indications for medical cannabis use were menopause-related disturbances of sleep and mood/anxiety.

Dr Dani Gordon, a specialist in integrative and cannabinoid medicine and founder of London Resilience Clinic, previously told Cannabis Health: “What cannabinoids can do is give people a tool to help get those symptoms under control.

“We have cannabinoid receptors throughout our female reproductive tract, and also in the brain area, the hypothalamus that deals with the stress response. This is called the HPA axis and it also controls what’s called the HPO axis which is how the brain talks to the ovaries.

“When we introduce a high-CBD during the day and then a little bit of THC to help people sleep at night, the perimenopausal symptom clusters respond well to this in the majority of cases, because CBD can help reduce the stress response.”

Access the full study here 

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister title and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email sarah@prohibitionpartners.com / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag

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