Most women say they would use cannabis to treat menstrual cramps and other kinds of gynecological pain, according to a new survey.
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University interviewed more than 1,000 women across the US.
Sixty percent had used cannabis, mostly (36 percent) to treat pain, depression and anxiety.
Those who hadn’t used the drug were not staunchly against it.
In fact, nearly two-thirds of the women who’ve never used cannabis (63 percent) said they would take the drug in a bid to ease their period pain or while getting IUD – a contraceptive implants – inserted.
The findings, being presented this week at the annual conference for the American College of Gynecology, come as states across the US take years considering whether to add dysmenorrhea – severe menstrual cramps – as a condition for which doctors could prescribe medical marijuana.
‘Cannabis products are currently being used by women both recreationally and medically. Most women would consider using cannabis to treat gynecologic conditions,’ lead author Katie Alton, MD, said.
Eighty percent of women experience notable menstrual cramps, stemming from the lower abdomen but in some cases reaching the thighs, back and chest.
One in 10 experiences pain so intense it is comparable to a heart attack.
And yet, there is no treatment, beyond taking ibuprofen, which, for some, could mean six pills a day for up to a week every month.
Taking regular Tylenol or Advil can irritate the gut, exacerbating the bloating and indigestion that worsens period pains.
As the US pushes to curb pill-popping for chronic pain, ground is fertile for alternatives – and the booming cannabis industry has wasted no time.
Whoopi Goldberg, among many, many others, has a line of marijuana products marketed for period pain treatment.
A California brand called Foria has gained plenty of attention marketing its cannabis suppositories, designed to sit inside the vagina to ease pain.
There is merit to the theory: there are plenty of endocannabinoids in the uterus, which suggests the drug would be useful.
However, no studies to date have effectively shown that it works, which gives physicians and lawmakers pause.
Charity Johns, MD, at Peachtree Women’s Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia, warns that as lawmakers and researchers stall, women are not going to sit and wait for a verdict.
In a small survey of her own 89 patients with chronic pelvic pain, which she is presenting at the ACOG meeting this week, Dr Johns found one in six used marijuana to ease their pain.
‘Clinical trials are needed,’ Dr Johns said.
‘Patients with [chronic pelvic pain] are self-treating with cannabis and finding this to be an effective intervention. Cannabis may serve as a future treatment option for females with CPP if found to be safe and effective.’