A growing number of women may be using cannabis for managing menopause symptoms, evidence from the Midlife Women Veterans Health Survey suggests. The research was undertaken by investigators at the San Francisco VA Health Care System and University of California, San Francisco, and presented in a poster at the North American Menopause Society 2020 Annual Meeting held virtually September 30th through October 3rd.
Anecdotal evidence already suggested a high rate of interest in use of cannabis for menopause symptoms in midlife and beyond, so the researchers decided to look at the situation more formally, recruiting 232 female veterans with an average age of 55. The participants were asked to fill in structured-item questionnaires detailing menopause symptoms, any past or current methods of menopause symptom management, as well as current health and mental health status.
The results showed that current or ever use of cannabis for menopause symptom relief was reported by 27 percent of women, with an additional 10 percent expressing interest in trying cannabis in the future. In contrast, only 19 percent reported traditional forms of menopause symptom management, including menopausal hormone therapy.
Current bothersome symptoms were reported by over half the group including hot flashes and night sweats (54 percent), insomnia (27 percent), and genitourinary symptoms (69 percent).
“These findings suggest that cannabis use to manage menopause symptoms may be relatively common," lead author Carolyn Gibson, PhD, MPH, said in a statement. "However, we do not know whether cannabis use is safe or effective for menopause symptom management or whether women are discussing these decisions with their healthcare providers—particularly in the VA, where cannabis is considered an illegal substance under federal guidelines.
"This information is important for healthcare providers, and more research in this area is needed.”
However, the authors also acknowledge their results may not be applicable to the general population who are not veterans, or to other regions that have different legal and cultural attitudes towards cannabis than California, where the study took place.