Women are increasingly using cannabis to manage menopause symptoms, a new survey finds. Photo by Silviarita/Pixabay
Sept. 28 (UPI) -- More women either are using cannabis or want to start doing so to manage some symptoms of menopause, according to a study presented Monday during the 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting of the North American Menopause Society.
Roughly one in four women in a survey reported they had used or currently were using cannabis to manage their menopause, while fewer than the one in five who indicated they were taking more traditional treatments such as hormone therapy.
Fifty-four percent of women respondents said they experienced hot flashes and night sweats, while 69% reported genitourinary symptoms and 27% said they had insomnia resulting from menopause, the researchers said.
"These findings suggest that cannabis use to manage menopause symptoms may be relatively common," study co-author Carolyn Gibson 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," said Gibson, a psychologist and health services researcher at San Francisco VA Health Care System.
Cannabis is considered an illegal substance under federal guidelines and is not recommended for use by clinicians at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Gibson said.
Several states have relaxed laws regarding cannabis use for medical purposes, and millions of people are taking some form of the compound THC -- the active ingredient in marijuana -- to manage numerous chronic health conditions and mood symptoms, including pain and anxiety.
For this study, Gibson and her colleagues interviewed 232 women -- most of whom were in their mid-50s -- in Northern California who participated in the Midlife Women Veterans Health Survey.
About 27% of those surveyed said they had used cannabis to manage menopause symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats, the data showed.
An additional 10% of participants expressed an interest in trying cannabis to manage their symptoms in the future, while 19% said they were using hormone therapy, the most commonly recommended approach for managing menopause symptoms.
Cannabis use did not differ by age, race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status or mental health conditions, they said.
"This study highlights a somewhat alarming trend and the need for more research relative to the potential risks and benefits of cannabis use for the management of bothersome menopause symptoms," Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director of the North American Menopause Society, said in a statement.