In an online survey, women reported that cannabis was effective in reducing pain and other symptoms related to endometriosis, according to study results published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada.
Between October and December 2017, investigators used social media platforms to recruit women aged 18 to 45 years with a surgical diagnosis of endometriosis within the past 5 years. Study participants were located in Australia, where medicinal cannabis was federally legalized for medicinal use in February 2016. Participants completed the Pelvic Pain Impact Questionnaire and provided information about self-management techniques, frequency of use for techniques, adverse events, self-rated effectiveness, and subsequent reduction in endometriosis medication use.
Of 484 responses included for analysis, 76% of women reported using self-management strategies within the preceding 6 months, including a subgroup of 48 respondents (13%) who specified cannabis use. Using a numerical scale (0 being least effective and 10 being most effective), self-rated effectiveness of cannabis for pelvic pain reduction was 7.6±2.0. A majority of women reported some level of reduced pharmaceutical medication use, and 27 (56%) reported a reduction of ≥50%.
Women who used cannabis reported reductions in both mental and physical symptoms of endometriosis, especially in sleep, anxiety, depression, nausea, and vomiting. Only 5 women (10%) reported minor adverse effects. Smoking was the most common method of administration, and over 40% reported using cannabis at least once per day.
The study was limited by the self-reported nature of the data. In addition, although regulations were issued in 2016, few prescriptions of quality-assured medicinal cannabis have been dispensed in this pathway. Therefore, most women who reported cannabis use in this study were likely using illicit cannabis.
“These data provide evidence that cannabis is currently used by a group of women with severe endometriosis symptoms, a practice that may provide substantial relief of pain and associated symptoms,” the investigators wrote. “Clinical trials of cannabis use in this group are warranted to determine efficacy, compliance, and side effect profile, to better inform practice and policy for this common gynecological condition.”
Disclosure: Several study authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.
Sinclair J, Smith CA, Abbott J, Chalmers KJ, Pate DW, Armour M. Cannabis use, a self-management strategy among Australian women with endometriosis: results from a national online survey [published online November 7, 2019]. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. doi:10.1016/j.jogc.2019.08.033