The legalisation of medical cannabis in some jurisdictions around the world, has led to its use in treating a growing number of health problems. A new study 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 more nonhormone treatment options. Several observational studies 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 alleviate menopause-related symptoms.
In this new study involving more than 250 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women who were recruited through advertising targeted to women interested in women’s health and cannabis or cannabinoids, researchers sought to assess cannabis use, including modes of use, and to compare usage patterns between perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. Results suggested that many women (86%) 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 (84.3%) and edibles (78.3%). The most frequently reported indications for medical cannabis use were menopause-related disturbances of sleep and mood/anxiety.
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.
Objective: Expanding access to legal cannabis has dovetailed with increased interest in medical cannabis (MC) use; however, there is a paucity of research examining MC use to alleviate menopause-related symptoms. This survey study assessed patterns of MC use in perimenopausal and postmenopausal individuals.
Methods: Participants (perimenopausal, n = 131; postmenopausal, n = 127) completed assessments of menopause-related symptomatology and cannabis use, including modes of use, type of use, and menopause-related symptoms addressed by MC use.
Results: Most participants reported current cannabis use (86.1%) and endorsed using MC for menopause-related symptoms (78.7%). The most common modes of use were smoking (84.3%) and edibles (78.3%), and the top menopause-related symptoms for MC use were sleep disturbance (67.4%) and mood/anxiety (46.1%). Relative to postmenopausal participants, perimenopausal participants reported significantly worse menopause-related symptomatology on the vasomotor and psychosocial subscales of the Menopause-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire (Ps ≤ 0.04), including greater burden of anxiety (P = 0.01) and hot flash (P = 0.04) symptoms. In addition, perimenopausal participants reported higher incidence of depression (P = 0.03) and anxiety diagnoses (P < 0.01), as well as increased use of MC to treat menopause-related mood/anxiety symptoms relative to postmenopausal participants (P = 0.01).
Conclusions: Results suggest that many individuals are currently using MC as an adjunctive treatment for menopause-related symptoms, particularly sleep disturbance and mood/anxiety. Future research should examine the impact of different MC use characteristics (e.g., cannabinoid profiles) on the efficacy of MC use for menopause-related symptoms. Increased severity and prevalence of mood and anxiety symptoms in perimenopausal participants suggest promising targets for clinical trials of cannabinoid-based therapies.
A survey of medical cannabis use during perimenopause and postmenopause. Menopause 2022 Aug 2. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000002018. Online ahead of print.
Content created August 2022