Endometriosis is a common gynecologic disorder impacting up to 10% of women of reproductive age in the United States. In this disease, similar tissue to the uterine lining grows in aberrant areas such as the ovaries or bowels. The disorder can cause pain, as well as infertility. Although there is currently no cure for the disease, symptoms can be managed with medication and surgery if needed. Recently, cannabis has been investigated as an agent with the potential to mitigate endometriosis-associated symptoms.
In October 2021, the results of a retrospective cohort study including 252 participants who self-reported endometriosis were published. Participants self-reported changes in symptoms with cannabis use which included cramps, pelvic pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, and depression. Participants engaged in multiple sessions of cannabis use between April 2017 and February 2020. The method of ingestion seemed to impact treatment effectiveness with inhaled cannabis, demonstrating greater effectiveness for pain, while oral cannabis was more beneficial for mood and gastrointestinal symptoms. Although cannabis appeared effective across all symptoms investigated, gastrointestinal symptoms had the most robust self-reported improvement after cannabis use.
As this study is cross-sectional, a causal relationship between cannabis and endometriosis-associated symptoms cannot be determined. In addition, limitations exist that should be considered when reviewing the results. These limitations include the influence of potential bias due to the self-reported nature of both the diagnosis of endometriosis and symptom relief with cannabis use. Nevertheless, these findings are suggestive of a possible association between cannabis use and symptom relief. Therefore, this study supports the value of developing future clinical trials to investigate the use of cannabis for treating endometriosis-associated symptoms.