A recent study conducted by the University of Alberta has shed light on women’s use of cannabis to manage menopause symptoms, even though there is limited evidence supporting its effectiveness.
Surveying Women’s Choices:
The research, spearheaded by Katherine Babyn, a medical student, and her supervisor Nese Yuksel, involved surveying 1,485 women aged 35 and older in Alberta. These women were asked about their cannabis usage in relation to their menopause symptoms.
Cannabis Usage Findings:
The survey revealed that about one-third of the respondents (499 women) were currently using cannabis, while 66 percent had used it at some point. Of the current users, 75 percent were employing cannabis for medical reasons, primarily to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and alleviate muscle and joint aches.
The Need for Further Research:
The study aimed to understand why and how women turn to cannabis during menopause and to create resources for healthcare providers and women. Surprisingly, the scientific literature had limited information about cannabis’s effectiveness in addressing menopause symptoms, making further research vital.
During her clinical work, Yuksel noticed that many women were using cannabis to ease symptoms they didn’t associate with menopause, such as sleep problems, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating.
Natural vs. Pharmaceutical:
One reason for choosing cannabis or natural health products is the belief that natural options are safer. However, natural doesn’t always mean better or safer, emphasizing the need for rigorous research.
Informal Information Online:
Despite the lack of scientific evidence, the internet is filled with informal information about using cannabis during menopause, raising the importance of reliable guidance for women.
In Canada, management options for menopause include hormone therapy, prescription medications, lifestyle changes, and complementary therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy. Menopausal hormone therapy is considered the most effective option for troublesome vasomotor symptoms.
Stigma and Communication:
There’s still a stigma surrounding menopause and hormone therapy, making it crucial to educate healthcare providers and foster open communication with patients.
In the next phase of their study, Babyn and Yuksel plan to explore why women turn to cannabis for symptom relief and are developing an informational pamphlet about cannabis in menopause, based on current evidence.
This study doesn’t advocate for cannabis as a treatment for menopause symptoms but emphasizes the need for further research to provide women with evidence-based choices for managing their symptoms. The study has highlighted that women are indeed seeking alternatives to alleviate their menopause-related issues, and this data is a starting point for further investigations.
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