A recent study conducted in Alberta, Canada found that 34% of women in the age bracket associated with menopause currently use cannabis, and 66% have used cannabis previously.
Researchers wished to investigate the use of cannabis to relieve menopausal symptoms due to a lack of data on the subject, as well as the increase in the number of the population who use cannabis.
Cannabis has been legal in Canada since October 2018, it is thought that roughly 27% of the population aged 16 and over consume the plant in one way or another.
While Federal law states anybody over 18 can use cannabis recreationally, many Canadian patients also use cannabis medicinally. At the end of 2022, there were 224,000 registered medicinal cannabis patients (from a population of 38.25 million).
A growing number of women are using cannabis medicinally to treat symptoms associated with menopause. Menopause is when the menstrual cycle in females stops due to the levels of certain hormones changing. It usually happens to women aged 40-45.
Scientists from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada conducted a web-based, cross-sectional survey that received 1485 eligible responses.
The results of the survey were published in the June 2023 issue of the journal BMJ Open, they showed:
- the median age of the participants was 49 years
- 35% were postmenopausal
- 33% were perimenopausal
- 34% of the total participants used cannabis currently
- 66% had used cannabis at some point previously
- of the 499 current cannabis users, over 75% were using cannabis for medical purposes
Sleep, anxiety and muscle-joint pain were the most reported symptoms that cannabis was used to treat. In addition, 74% of participants who used cannabis reported it to be helpful in treating their symptoms.
The results did show however that current cannabis users were more likely to report experiencing menopause symptoms than non-cannabis-using participants. Commenting on an earlier menopause and cannabis study conducted by Harvard University, Dr. Heather Hirsch, head of the Menopause and Midlife Clinic at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital said “More and more patients tell me every year that they’ve tried cannabis or CBD (cannabidiol, an active ingredient in cannabis), particularly for sleep or anxiety,
“Adding to its appeal is that cannabis is now legal in so many places and works acutely for a couple of hours. You don’t need a doctor’s prescription. Socially, it may be easier to justify than using a medication.”
Scientists working on the recent study concluded that additional information needs to be collected and analysed before firm judgements can be made on the safety and efficacy of cannabis as a treatment for menopausal symptoms.