Middle aged women in Canada are increasingly turning to cannabis for relief from menopause-related symptoms, according to newly published research.
A survey conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta sought to “examine the pattern of use and perceptions about cannabis for menopause in women aged 35 and over in Alberta, Canada.”
Canada legalized medical cannabis in 2001, and recreational marijuana in 2018. According to the survey’s authors, cannabis for medical use has increased in Canada since the 2018 adult-use legalization.
The researchers used a sample of 1,485 responses from women who were recruited via social media.
“Among analysed responses, 499 (34%) women reported currently using cannabis and 978 (66%) indicated ever using cannabis. Of the 499 current cannabis users, over 75% were using cannabis for medical purposes. Most common reasons for current use were sleep (65%), anxiety (45%) and muscle/joint achiness (33%). In current users, 74% indicated that cannabis was helpful for symptoms. Current cannabis users were more likely to report experiencing menopause symptoms compared with non-users. History of smoking and general health status were associated with current cannabis use,” the researchers wrote in their analysis.
In their conclusion, the researchers said that some of the “women are using cannabis for symptoms related to menopause,” and that additional research is “required to assess safety and efficacy of cannabis for managing menopause and develop clinical resources for women on cannabis and menopause.”
The findings are consistent with prior research that has also highlighted marijuana’s effectiveness for those dealing with menopause.
In 2020, researchers with the San Francisco VA Health Care System unveiled findings showing that more than a quarter of women surveyed in their study reported using medical cannabis for menopause. That study was based on a decidedly smaller sample size (only 232 female veterans in northern California) than the Canadian survey, but the researchers with the San Francisco VA Health Care System still revealed that marijuana use as a menopause treatment could be more widespread than previously understood.
Carolyn Gibson, a researcher at the San Francisco VA Health Care System and the lead author of that study, said that although the findings “suggest that cannabis use to manage menopause symptoms may be relatively common,” the researchers still “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,” Gibson said.
Although their study boasted a robust sample, the researchers with the University of Alberta still offered caveats for their own findings.
“This study has several limitations to be considered when interpreting findings. First, our recruitment strategy included women who had access to the internet and were able to complete the survey in English, which may limit the generalisability to all women aged 35 or over. It is difficult to estimate our population for the survey given that this was an unrestricted and self-selected survey with women who had access to social media platforms. This was an exploratory study designed to inform further research, including the next qualitative phase of this mixed-methods study. These findings are not representative of the full population of women aged 35 and over, other than the women who completed the survey,” they wrote.
Nevertheless, the survey “established that women are using cannabis for symptoms during the menopause transition.”