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Medical Cannabis Is Increasingly Used To Treat Symptoms Of Endometriosis

Cannabis plant flower bud budding flowering

Patients who suffer from endometriosis frequently report using medical cannabis products to alleviate their symptoms, according to survey data that was recently published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Endometriosis is a serious disease involving tissue similar to the lining of the uterus growing outside the patient’s uterus. Endometriosis can cause severe pain in the patient’s pelvis. The condition can make it difficult for the patient to become pregnant. Patients can start experiencing symptoms of the condition during their first menstrual period and the symptoms can last up until menopause.

International researchers estimate that roughly 5-10% of women of reproductive age around the globe suffer from endometriosis. Unfortunately, very little is known about what causes endometriosis.

A team of Australian researchers recently surveyed 192 women who reported suffering from endometriosis and having a history of medical cannabis use. Sixty-three percent of the survey participants reported to the researchers that they had received a doctor’s authorization to use cannabis-based medicinal products, which is permitted in Australia.

“Most (63.5%) used a ‘cannabis clinic’ doctor, incurring an initial consultation cost of $100–$200+ (10.2% Medicare bulk-billed) and median cannabinoid medicine costs of $300AUD per month.” the researchers stated. “Cost was a major barrier to access, necessitating reducing dosage (76.1%) and/or consuming illicit cannabis (42.9%), despite a prescription.”

“Most (77%) medical consumers used two or more cannabis products, with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol predominant oil and flower products most frequently prescribed.” the researchers stated about the medical cannabis products being consumed by the survey participants.

Pharmaceutical pain medications, and in some cases hormone therapy, are the most common non-cannabis forms of treatment for endometriosis. In cases of infertility, minor surgery to remove endometriosis deposits is another form of treatment. Such surgeries can also help in some cases of severe pain.

“The study was approved by the Western Sydney University Human Research Ethics Committee (approval number H15099). An online survey was hosted via Qualtrics with responses received between October and December 2022. Informed consent was obtained from all participants, with the survey introduction and participant information sheet stating that completion of the questionnaire implied consent.” the survey’s authors stated. “For counts and proportions, 95% confidence intervals were reported.”

“This study found that THC-predominant CBMPs [cannabis-based medicinal products] are commonly prescribed to Australians with endometriosis,” authors concluded. “Given major issues with symptom management and the self-reported reductions in pain and other symptoms, improving access to medicinal cannabis for this population is important and timely.”

Previous studies have arrived at similar findings, including a study conducted in Australia in October 2021 that concluded, “Cannabis appears to be effective across all reported symptoms, with a noted propensity for inhaled delivery due to the potential increased speed of onset of effects versus the slower onset of oral products, particularly for pelvic pain.”

A similar study conducted in New Zealand in December 2020 concluded, “Respondents reported clear evidence of a substitution effect, where the use of cannabis reduced or replaced other pharmaceutical medications, especially with respect to opioid-based analgesics, and also to other medications commonly used in the management of endometriosis-related symptoms, such as antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and NSAIDs.”