Why Women with Endometriosis are turning to Medicinal Cannabis

December 17, 2019Doctors, Patients

According to a study published by endometriosis.org, endometriosis affects the lives of more than 176 million women worldwide between the ages of 15 and 49. For those who are not familiar with endometriosis, it is a painful gynaecological condition that causes the tissue that would otherwise line the inside of the uterus to form on the outside of it instead. Studies show that the condition can affect a woman's ovaries, fallopian tubes, and even the tissue that lines the pelvis.

When endometrial tissue thickens, bleeds, and breaks down, which is a common occurrence when a woman menstruates, this tissue is unable to exit the body since it forms on the outside of the uterus. And when endometriosis starts to affect the ovaries, the condition eventually results in the development of cysts, scar tissue, and abnormal bands of fibrous tissue, which causes pelvic tissue and certain organs to stick to one another. Not surprisingly, all of these events can cause significant pain and may even make it difficult for some women to conceive.

One thing to note when it comes to endometriosis is that there is no cure for the painful condition. As a result, many women turn to prescription-based medications, namely opioids, to help ease the sometimes debilitating pain they may be experiencing. While oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and many other opioids are effective when it comes to alleviating pain caused by endometriosis, they are also highly addictive and can trigger numerous side effects.

According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, some of the more common side effects associated with opioids include nausea, vomiting, constipation, and respiratory depression. Although many would argue that over-the-counter pain relievers are a great way to avoid these side effects, for some women, they don't offer anything substantial in the way of pain relief. For these reasons, many women have turned to cannabis to help ease endometriosis pain.

Studies show that cannabidiol, one of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis (marijuana), works in conjunction with the body’s endocannabinoid system to combat pain and inflammation caused by endometriosis. Cannabidiol was also found to be effective when it came to easing painful periods and gastrointestinal issues brought on by the condition, according to many of these same studies.

Along with cannabidiol, cannabis contains tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, which was found to be effective in easing the feelings of anxiety and depression that most women feel as they battle endometriosis. Lastly, tetrahydrocannabinol helps promote sleep and relaxation, which in and of itself is enough to provide most women with relief from endometriosis-related pain.

All in all, cannabis is an effective way to ease many of the symptoms associated with endometriosis, especially pain. However, women who are struggling with endometriosis and are thinking about trying cannabis should speak with their physician first as they can advise them on correct dosing and whether or not cannabis is safe to take while on other medications.

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