Chronic pelvic pain (CPP), as a vast group of multiple painful symptoms, affects in total almost 25 million women a year in the US alone. The pain may involve different organ systems, including the genitourinary tract, gastrointestinal system, musculoskeletal system, central and peripheral nervous systems, and can be caused by many diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome and endometriosis, among others. Since it can result from such a diverse range of diseases and affect diverse organs, assessing and effectively treating CPP is often challenging.
For this reason, a significant group of patients relies on self-medicated therapy in addition to prescribed medication to help with their pains, and a popular choice is cannabis. According to a survey of CPP patients attending a Mayo Clinic gynecology clinic, 23% used cannabis on a regular basis. Most users reported improvement in symptoms, such as reduction in pain, cramping, muscle spasms, anxiety level, and improvement in sleep, sexual activity, and mood. Over one-third indicated that cannabis use led them to decrease the number of phone calls or messages sent to healthcare providers and a slightly larger group even reported lower numbers of clinic visits. However, side effects were prevalent, with the most common being dry mouth, sleepiness, and euphoria. Thus, although this survey highlights the potential of cannabis as a therapeutic option for CPP patients, further research – especially focusing on adverse effects and long-term safety – remains necessary before cannabis can be integrated as an adjunct into the treatment regimen of this condition.
If you suffer from chronic pelvic pain and believe that medical cannabis may help, or want to learn more about medical cannabis and it’s benefits, we welcome you to contact our offices for a consultation with Dr. Caplan.