The Conversation have produced a report studying the use of cannabis amongst women suffering from endometriosis pain.
What did their study find?
They surveyed 484 women with surgically diagnosed endometriosis about the self-management strategies they used.
Those aged 18 to 45, 76% reported using self-management techniques in the past six months.
Heat packs (70%)
Dietary changes (44%)
Yoga or pilates (35%)
and Cannabis (13%)
Out of all of the self-management techniques, cannabis was rated as the most effective for managing pain.
Women who reported higher levels of pain were more likely to use cannabis than those with milder symptoms.
Respondents who used cannabis also reported improvements in other symptoms including gastrointestinal problems, nausea, anxiety, depression and sleep.
Just one in ten cannabis users reported side effects, which included anxiety, drowsiness and tachycardia (fast heart rate). This is consistent with other research.
How could cannabis help treat endometriosis symptoms?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex regulatory system that helps maintain balance (homeostasis) in our bodies and is important for a wide range of actions, including metabolism, inflammation and immune function.
The ECS is distributed throughout most organs in the human body, but is more abundant in the central nervous, immune and female reproductive systems.
Research is still in its infancy in women with pelvic pain, but one study found women with pelvic pain may benefit from using medicinal cannabis. It may also allow them to reduce their opioid pain-killer intake.
Why do women resort to cannabis and self care?
Both surgical and pharmaceutical treatments are commonly used for endometriosis.
Surgery can reduce pain, at least in the short to medium term.
Recent reviews have found hormonal treatment options can be effective at managing pain but these are often discontinued or avoided due to significant side effects, such as headaches, mood swings and depression.
Women with endometriosis report wide-ranging negative impacts on their daily lives, from having to reduce their social activities to problems going to work or studying. It can also cause poor mental and emotional health and affect their sexual and romantic relationships.