Cannabis Use in Menopause: A Mixed Methods Research Study Capturing the Experiences and Perspectives of Women

  • Author / Creator
    Babyn, Katherine A
  • Menopause not only marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years but is a significant transition from a biological and psychosocial standpoint. The majority of women will experience menopause symptoms including vasomotor symptoms, genitourinary symptoms, sleep disturbances, mood changes, depression, anxiety, muscle or joint pain, weight gain and decreased libido. There are many approaches women may take in managing these symptoms involving a combination of prescription medications, complementary and alternative medicines, or lifestyle changes. Since the legalization of cannabis in Canada, the use of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes has increased, especially within the midlife population. There is growing interest in using cannabis for symptoms that overlap with menopause. Following a two- phase, mixed methods research design, the purpose of this thesis was to explore the experiences and perspectives of midlife women using cannabis for medical purposes coinciding with menopause symptoms.

    The first project of this thesis was the quantitative phase of the mixed methods research. A cross-sectional, web-based survey in midlife women living in Alberta was completed to characterize cannabis use patterns and perceptions, as well as their menopause stage and symptoms. These findings showed over one-third (34%) of midlife women surveyed were current users of cannabis, and 65% indicated ever using cannabis. Of the current users, 75% of these women are using for medical purposes, with the most common reasons that overlapped with menopause being sleep issues, anxiety, muscle/joint achiness, irritability, and depression. Most women accessed cannabis from non-medical sources and used an assortment of cannabis forms at varying frequencies of use. In addition, current cannabis users were more likely to report experiencing menopause symptoms as compared to non-users. History of smoking and health status were significant independent predictors of current cannabis use. Women commonly used the internet or their family or friends for information on cannabis, but desired to get information from healthcare providers.

    The second project of this thesis was the qualitative phase of the mixed methods research aimed to explore the experiences and perceptions of midlife women using cannabis for medical purposes. Women were recruited from the initial survey sample to take part in one-on-one interviews. Menopause was described as a unique, complex experience and cannabis was a therapeutic agent that provided symptom relief and maintained their quality of life. Women self- managed their use of cannabis, accessed cannabis from a variety of medical and non-medical sources, and relied on experimentation. Similarities in a lack of information available, limited role of healthcare providers, feelings of stigmatization and emphasis on self-educating were reported in women’s experiences with menopause and with using cannabis for medical purposes.

    The findings from this thesis established that midlife women are using cannabis to manage their symptoms coinciding with menopause. Future research is required to better understand the effect cannabis has on menopause symptoms and aid in the development of clinical resources and education to support midlife women in managing their symptoms with cannabis. By going directly to women, this thesis highlighted the opportunities healthcare providers have to improve the care of midlife women during menopause.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.