Illicit Cannabis Usage as a Management Strategy in New Zealand Women with Endometriosis: An Online Survey

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2021 Oct;30(10):1485-1492. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2020.8668. Epub 2020 Dec 3.


Background: Endometriosis affects around 10% of women worldwide. Many women with endometriosis struggle with finding adequate pain management, and data from other countries suggest that women use cannabis, either legal or illicit, to help manage their endometriosis symptoms. The aim of this study was to determine use of cannabis where endometriosis was self-identified as a condition that was being treated with cannabis, as well as the impact of cannabis use on the usage on other pharmaceuticals. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional online survey of those using cannabis for health-related conditions run between May and July 2019. This article reports on the subset of this larger data set for those reporting they had a diagnosis of endometriosis and/or polycystic ovary syndrome. Data were collected on demographics, modes of cannabis administration, symptoms treated, changes in pharmaceutical usage, and adverse events. Results: Two hundred thirteen valid responses were analyzed. Mean age of respondents was 32 years and 79.8% were current cannabis users. The most common outcomes that cannabis was used for were to improve pain relief (95.5%) and to improve sleep (95.5%). Respondents reported that their symptom was "much better" for pain (81%), sleep (79%), and nausea or vomiting (61%). Over three-quarters (81.4%) indicated cannabis had reduced their normal medication usage. Over half (59%) were able to completely stop a medication, most commonly (66%) analgesics. Opioids (40%) were the most common class of analgesic stopped. Conclusions: Cannabis is reported as an effective intervention for pain and other endometriosis symptoms with potential substitution effects on opioid usage.

Keywords: New Zealand; cannabis; endometriosis; pelvic pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cannabis*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Endometriosis* / drug therapy
  • Endometriosis* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Medical Marijuana* / therapeutic use
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Medical Marijuana