Use of Cannabis for Self-Management of Chronic Pelvic Pain

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2021 Sep;30(9):1344-1351. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2020.8737. Epub 2020 Nov 16.


Background: Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) affects up to 15% of women in the United States. The endocannabinoid system is a potential pharmacological target for pelvic pain as cannabinoid receptors are highly expressed in the uterus and other nonreproductive tissues. We hypothesize that cannabis use is common for self-management of CPP, and our primary objective was to determine the prevalence of cannabis use in this population. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey of women with pelvic and perineal pain, dyspareunia, or endometriosis was performed between March and August 2019. Subjects were recruited in an outpatient gynecology office. An anonymous, confidential, electronic survey was performed using a tablet. Statistical analysis was performed using JMP (SAS, Cary, NC). Results: A total of 240 patients were approached, with 113 responses (47.1% response rate). There were 26 patients who used cannabis (23%). The majority used at least once per week (n = 18, 72%). Most users (n = 24, 96%) reported improvement in symptoms, including pain, cramping, muscle spasms, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, libido, and irritability. Over one-third (35%) stated that cannabis use decreased the number of phone calls or messages sent to their provider, and 39% reported decreased number of clinical visits. Side effects, including dry mouth, sleepiness, and feeling "high," were reported by 84% (n = 21). Conclusions: Almost one-quarter of patients with CPP report regular use of cannabis as an adjunct to their prescribed therapy. Although side effects are common, most users report improvement in symptoms. Our study highlights the potential of cannabis as a therapeutic option for patients with CPP.

Keywords: cannabidiol; female genitourinary pain; medical cannabis; pain management; tetrahydrocannabinol.

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Pelvic Pain / drug therapy
  • Pelvic Pain / epidemiology
  • Self-Management*