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We Can’t Avoid Menopause But Cannabis Makes It Easier

May 15, 2018
Menopause is one of the most dramatic changes a woman’s body will undertake in her lifetime. Not since puberty has the reproductive system gone through such a shift, and the experience is not altogether pleasant. Luckily, hot flashes, mood swings, pain, insomnia, and other symptoms of menopause don’t have to be fought alone, and—as it turns out—an extremely helpful ally can come in the form of cannabis.


What Cannabis Strains Do Women Want?

To understand why cannabis can help treat the symptoms of menopause, it’s helpful to understand exactly what menopause is and how it affects the body.

What Is Menopause?

Menopause is the period of time (usually yearlong) when a woman’s menstrual cycle comes to an end. This occurs most frequently between a person’s mid 40s–50s. The most common age for women to begin menopause is 51.

Menopause itself occurs in three stages: perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause:

  • Perimenopause occurs when the body begins to exhibit subtle changes, such as the slowdown of estrogen production, in preparation for menopause to begin.
  • Menopause is the 12-month stretch of time after a woman’s last period, when ovulation stops completely, and estrogen levels drop significantly.
  • Post-menopause is the period of time after menopause ends when menopausal symptoms subside and a woman enters a new homeostasis.

How Does Cannabis Affect Men and Women Differently?

What Are The Symptoms of Menopause?

Menopause can produce a litany of side effects, including hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, pain, low libido, weight gain, fatigue, and osteoporosis. In addition, the onset of these side effects can cause anxiety or depression in some women.

The Endocannabinoid System & Menopause

The endocannabinoid system is a network of cell receptors whose role is to maintain homeostasis in the body. It is because of the endocannabinoid receptors that cannabis molecules (cannabinoids like THC and CBD) bind and create the familiar effects we all know and love. However, the endocannabinoid system does not exist exclusively for cannabis—it also interacts with endocannabinoids, the body’s natural cannabinoids.


What is the endocannabinoid system and what is its role?

Estrogen is linked to the endocannabinoid system by regulating the fatty acid hydrolase enzyme (or FAAH) that breaks down certain endocannabinoids. When estrogen levels peak, so do endocannabinoid levels and vice versa. There exists some preliminary research that suggests early onset menopause may be linked to endocannabinoid deficiencies.

Evidence suggests that estrogen utilizes endocannabinoids to regulate mood and emotional response—this could explain why mood swings are more common during menopause, when estrogen levels plummet.


A list of major cannabinoids in cannabis and their effects

As a result, one can theorize that the use of cannabis during menopause may help bolster the endocannabinoid system’s necessary functions that are struggling to work without high levels of estrogen.

How Can Cannabis Help Soothe Menopause Symptoms?

Due to the federal prohibition of cannabis, research on the subject of cannabis for menopause is scarce. However, a look back in history shows us that this concept is nothing new. In the 1924 text, Sajous and Sajous, cannabis is cited as an analgesic for menopause.


Do Cannabis-Infused Suppositories Actually Work? We Tried One to Find Out

In addition to these historical references, we have a modern scientific understanding of the way our bodies work and the many ailments in which cannabis has proven useful.

Hot Flashes

The natural cannabinoid, anandamide, is chemically similar to THC and can bestow a “high” sensation (think “runner’s high”), but they also share another effect: regulating body temperature.

Thus, THC may be a key cannabinoid when mitigating the effects of hot flashes. Studies suggest that consuming higher doses of THC has a cooling effect on the system and can lower body temperature. Conversely, consuming small amounts may actually raise body temperature, so finding the right dose for each person is a crucial step.


Why does cannabis get you ‘high’ and make you feel good?


Insomnia goes hand-in-hand with hot flashes for menopausal women. It can be difficult to sleep when night sweats strike. However, in addition to lowering body temperature, many strains are also excellent sleep aids. A relaxing strain or a long-lasting edible will help keep you asleep all night long.


Best Cannabis Products for Alleviating Insomnia as Told by Leafly Users


During menopause, hormonal fluctuations can create a slew of painful side effects. Migraines, breast tenderness, joint pain, bruising, intercourse discomfort, and even increased menstrual cramping (oh the irony!) can all sweep in and make life a bit more difficult.

Cannabis is a renowned pain reliever that helps patients get back on their feet, and there are tons of great strains for pain relief. What’s more, unlike opioids, cannabis offers relief without severe side effects or addictive properties.


The best cannabis strains for pain

Mood Swings

As established earlier, estrogen plays a part in utilizing endocannabinoids for the stabilizing of mood and emotional response. This same drop in endocannabinoid levels can contribute to anxiety or even depression.

Fortunately, many are finding that CBD and THC can step in to help. Studies show that cannabis can be used to regulate mood and mitigate feelings of depression or anxiety.


The best cannabis strains for anxiety

Low Libido

One of the more frustrating side effects of menopause can be low libido and vaginal dryness. Especially for women who have a high sex drive, watching your libido plummet during a time when your body is already undergoing drastic changes can make you feel personally out of touch.

However, some women may be able to find relief by using cannabis. While the debate is still ongoing, 67% of respondents in a Psychology Today poll reported that they believe cannabis has improved their sex lives.

Finding the right strain may be the simple answer. For some, the mind-buzzing effects of THC may allow them to reconnect with their libido, while for others, a solution may lie in the clear-headed relaxation of CBD.


5 Cannabis Strains for 5 Specific Types of Sex

Bone Loss

Estrogen regulates the process of cell regeneration in the bones, so a dramatic drop in estrogen can sometimes lead to conditions such as osteoporosis.

Studies suggest an association between the genes that code cannabinoid receptors and post-menopausal osteoporosis. For those who have received an ovariectomy, there was also evidence of cannabinoid treatment reducing bone loss.

Other studies report that cannabinoids CBG, CBD, CBC, and THCV “stimulate bone growth and may be able to prevent osteoporosis after menopause.”

Weight Gain

Gaining weight during menopause is common. This is due to age, lifestyle changes, and other unavoidable factors. But hormones also play a role. With a healthy diet and regular exercise, cannabis can be used in some instances to help maintain a person’s weight.

In fact, some studies have found that cannabis consumers have lower BMIs than non-consumers, and while THC is famous for the munchies, other cannabinoids don’t play those games. Opt instead for a high-CBD strain, or a high-THCV variety.


10 cannabis strains that won’t make you (as) hungry

Further research will solidify and unveil the many ways in which cannabis can be an effective menopause treatment. With time, and the reform of antiquated laws, scientists will be able to answer these questions in greater depth and clarity. Until then, the evidence at hand already hints at how cannabis can bring millions of cis-gender women relief as they go through this life-changing event.

Editor’s note: We have omitted the classification “cis-gender” from the original article.

Rae Lland's Bio Image

Rae Lland

Rae Lland is a freelance writer, journalist, and former editor for Weedist and The Leaf Online. With a focus on culture, music, health, and wellness, in addition to her work for Leafly, she has also been featured in numerous online cannabis publications as well as print editions of Cannabis Now Magazine. Follow her on Instagram @rae.lland

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  • Charlene Gruni

    First off, all women go through menopause, whether you’re cis or not. If you’ve got a uterus and eggs, you go through menopause, so the very first sentence of this article immediately lost the credibility of this article.

    • Emily Resling

      Thanks for pointing that out, Charlene. We’ve changed it. Slip-up in sensitivity aside, the article is chock full of great and useful information for any *human* with a uterus and eggs—regardless of how they identify—and I hope you take a minute to read through it.

  • 1Jenny

    Your definitions seem off to me. My doctor says you have to have that full 12 months of menstrual cessation BEFORE you can declare yourself to be fully into menopause. Some of us experience FAR more than 12 months of menopausal symptoms – in fact, most women experience several years of hot flashes and insomnia. What do your experts call that phase then, between the 12 months and the actual cessation of symptoms? I’m 15 months in and just starting up that looooong hill.

  • Kristen Law

    I started drinking CBD powder in the evening to help with insomnia related to menopause symptoms. This has definitely helped me a lot. So you don’t need the cannabis but the CBD (medicinal component) is very helpful. When I wake up in the middle of the night (which occurs almost always) it is much easier to fall back asleep.

    • I have tried various forms of CBD (dliquids, edibles, vaping) and none of them helped at all. Literal did nothing to help with insomnia or anxiety. Even after months of taking because I was told it needed to build up in your system. The only thing that helps is regular cannabis. So some people maybe be fine with pure CBD, others need the other components in cannabis. Just like prescription medication, no one treatment works for everyone.

  • Jeorge
  • Sherry Allen

    Totally agree. I consume a half of a magical brownie daily and I do not have hot flashes. The days I don’t are almost totally unbearable. MMJ is the best medicine on Earth.

  • Brenda Ruth Green

    I’d like to try cannabis but don’t know what to use. I don’t want to get stoned.

  • Chrys Woods

    My mom went thru 14 straight years of menopause, most women go thru far longer than just a year of it. I had breast cancer at 40 years old and due to it being hormone receptive, I had to have a total hysterectomy and now have to take a cancer medicine for the rest of my life. It forces me to be in a menopausal state with ultra-mega-meltdown hot flashes where I will literally soak all my hair, face and even clothes with sweat. Up until now only Xanax has been able to help along with the anxiety that goes with it. My oncologist said I may be in menopause for the rest of my life. There are other issues with chronic pain that I deal with from having chemo related neuropathy, (PTSD from childhood, severe depression, severe social anxiety and borderline agoraphobia) and uncontrolled thyroid cancer many years before that has left me with crippling pain. My life consists of pretty much never leaving my bed unless it’s for a Drs appt., bathroom trips or to eat because I’m disabled. Something has to be done about this and my pain. Sadly I can’t afford to buy cannibus in my legal state due to being on disability. So, in order to control my pain…I have to take chemicals and lots of them a month (pills). I don’t know what to do. If I could just go natural, use cannabis/CBD, that would take away several of my prescriptions, help my hot flashes, help in making sure the breast cancer stays away and then I would only need the meds I need to live thyroid. My state doesn’t allow people to grow their own plants. You have to have a hired cultivator if you can’t afford it in a dispensary. This makes no sense to me. I still would have to pay the cultivator for their time, care and supplies. Not to mention that the legislators are taking their sweet time just approving dispensaries at this point. And what happens if the DEA raids the cultivator warehouse if I were able to hire one? I’m better off on the chemicals, at least those are paid for by my insurance!

  • Jarmila Gorman

    12 months of menopause? (Snort) I would like to see your sources because I’m in my 7th year now and don’t know a single woman who didn’t experience multi-year symptoms. I know several who experienced symptoms for a decade. In my case symptoms have eased significantly over the past two years but I’m not done yet. I use 2:1 cbd/thc gummies to help me sleep and it works like magic, but the only relief I’ve gotten for hot flashes was schisandra berry extract which I used well before I started the cbd/thc nightly gummy. I stopped with the schisandra when I started using cbd just to see if I got relief… and the hot flashes came back. With a vengeance. So now I do both. So – for me, the benefit of cbd/thc has been good sleep but it hasn’t helped at all with hot flashes. I don’t really have any other menopausal symptoms. I don’t enjoy getting high – I’ve yet to find a strain that doesn’t make me feel dopey, even straight sativa, so I don’t want to try daytime thc use for menopausal symptoms. Maybe it’s my physiology but for me, thc is for nighttime only.