More women turning to cannabis for menopause relief

More women turning to cannabis for menopause relief

Women Over 50 Turning to Weed for Menopause Symptoms: Is It Helping or Hurting?

woman smoking joint

Women over the age of 50 are increasingly turning to cannabis to alleviate menopause symptoms, according to new research. However, experts remain uncertain about whether the drug actually helps or exacerbates these symptoms.

Study author Carolyn Gibson, a health services researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, acknowledges the desperation of women seeking relief: “They want to sleep. They want to feel better. And it’s been pretty normalized at this point that cannabis is something that works for those issues. I want to be clear that we don’t actually know if it works.”

The research suggests that cannabis use during menopause may have both positive and negative effects. While it may help ease symptoms, it could also hinder the effectiveness of evidence-based treatments. Gibson observed an increase in cannabis advertising targeted at menopausal women and noticed more patients self-medicating for pain and anxiety.

To explore this phenomenon further, Gibson’s team analyzed data from over 5,100 mid-life women. They found that more than 40% had used cannabis for recreational or therapeutic purposes. Chronic pain motivated 28% of users, whereas sleep problems and stress drove 22% to use the drug.

Regarding consumption methods, 56% of the participants smoked cannabis, 52% ingested edibles, and 39% used more than one form. Among the recent cannabis users, 31% smoked it on a daily or near-daily basis, while 19% consumed edibles with the same frequency.

Menopause brings a range of symptoms, including sleep issues, anxiety, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood-related challenges. Healthcare professionals recommend various treatments, such as hormone therapy, SSRI antidepressants, gabapentin, cognitive behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes like exercise, social connection, and mindfulness.

However, the form, potency, and frequency of cannabis use play a significant role in its potential health outcomes. Smoking any substance carries health risks, while the increasing potency of cannabis products and their addictive potential pose concerns.

Gibson emphasizes the need for open conversations between patients and doctors regarding cannabis use. As legalization and normalization become more widespread, she believes people will increasingly turn to cannabis. She hopes individuals will explore other, more studied and safe treatment options.

The results of this study were presented at the Menopause Society’s annual meeting but should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Dr. Tara Iyer, an associate physician and menopause specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Menopause and Midlife Clinic in Boston, confirms that the study’s findings align with her observations as a healthcare provider. Many women suffering from menopause symptoms have tried various remedies before considering cannabis products.

While hormone therapy is the gold standard treatment for menopause, alternative options include lifestyle changes, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, gabapentin, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Iyer suggests that different individuals may benefit from different therapies depending on their unique experiences.

Regarding cannabis, some patients report positive outcomes related to joint pain and sleep. However, limited research and potential placebo effects make it difficult to determine whether these benefits stem from cannabis use. Conversely, cannabis may have detrimental effects on other menopause symptoms, such as memory issues, brain fog, and difficulty concentrating.

Iyer recommends seeking advice from a menopause specialist, as there are more effective, well-studied, and safe treatments available to address multiple symptoms. While cannabis may offer temporary relief, it is essential to explore comprehensive treatment options that target specific menopause-related challenges.

As women continue to explore alternative therapies during menopause, open dialogue with healthcare professionals becomes crucial. Each individual’s unique experience requires personalized treatment plans for optimal symptom management and overall well-being.


  • Gibson, C., et al. (2023, September). Women’s cannabis use is associated with chronic pain and sleep problems in menopause. Presented at the Menopause Society Annual Meeting.
  • U.S. National Institute on Aging: