How cannabis changed my menopause experience 

cannabis menopause woman holding plant

Many aspects of women’s health remain shrouded in stigma, all too often preventing us from having open, honest discussions about our experiences. Menopause was perhaps the most unknown to me—besides a vague understanding of my period stopping in my 40s or 50s, I had very few realistic expectations of this time of my life. 

When I began menopause at an earlier age than most, I struggled for answers on how to manage my symptoms until I finally tried cannabis. Now, as the founder of a cannabis brand formulated to target menopause symptoms, there are many lessons I hope to impart to women beginning this journey. 

RELATED: More women with menopause turning to cannabis

Cancer and early-onset menopause 

My journey with my health and cannabis began when I was 40 with a diagnosis that no one wants to hear: breast cancer. My chemotherapy treatments started right away, and slowly but surely, I entered remission. 

Chemo saved my life but changed my body forever. I developed symptoms I had never experienced before, including fatigue, insomnia, and night sweats that sent my body completely out of whack. I went to the doctor only to be told that I had entered early-onset menopause due to the chemo. This apparently ‘common phenomenon’ came as a shock to me, as no doctor had prepared me for the chance that this might happen to me. Six months after chemo I had finally gotten my period back and felt close to normal, only for that to end and perimenopause to begin at just 45. 

Whereas most women can be treated with hormone replacement therapy to balance hormones during menopause, that is not an option for women undergoing chemo, leaving me to search for my own methods of soothing my newfound symptoms. During this time, I began to self-medicate with cannabis, finding that small daily doses kept the stress away and let me sleep better at night. And so, I incorporated cannabis into my daily life to get through the ups and downs of menopause, and now I can’t picture navigating this time without it. 

Managing my menopause symptoms 

After having to navigate through treating my menopause symptoms on my own, I am eager to impart all I’ve learned about cannabis and menopause to others. Cannabis has been a game changer in managing the symptoms that make day-to-day life more difficult. 

My insomnia has been among the worst of the physical symptoms, setting me up for long days of exhaustion and brain fog. With low doses of cannabis, I can get a restful sleep that allows for a more energetic, successful next day. Cannabis in different forms can also target other common menopause issues, such as decreased libido, hot flashes, night sweats, and more by facilitating relaxation and assuaging the stress that can worsen flare-ups. 

RELATED: Does cannabis lead to better sleep?

How to ease into cannabis use for menopause 

For menopausal women looking to begin their exploration into cannabis, there are a few things that I recommend doing to get the best possible results.

To start, women should keep a journal from the very beginning of their menopause symptoms, before ever touching cannabis. Keep this journal by the bed and take notes on your experience: nights that you didn’t sleep well, hot flashes throughout the day or when you woke up, days your brain feels foggy. Notes like these will help you establish your baseline and thus be able to target your specific symptoms. 

Next, when you’re ready to incorporate cannabis, start small. Cannabis affects everyone differently, so start with a very low dose and see how your body handles it. Go back into your journal and note how the cannabis makes you feel alongside your symptoms. Then, slowly increase your dose until it is low enough that you don’t feel high but substantial enough that you achieve results. 

Keeping track of your experience with menopause and cannabis can help you tailor your products to you. From there, you can begin to explore different formulations and product types depending on your needs, from edibles and flower to tinctures and vapes. 

RELATED: Cannabis may enhance sexual experience, especially for women

High time to share our experiences 

There is so much about my body and women’s health that I am still discovering—things I wish I had learned about when I was younger. So much of what I am facing now is common to all women and would be so much easier to face if we did not do so alone. From cannabis to menopause, so many relevant and important topics remain taboo or stigmatized, making them so much harder to navigate when the time comes. 

If we open up about our experiences and really talk to each other, women of all ages would be more informed on their own health and ways that we can mitigate common issues. Talking to our friends, our mothers, and our grandmothers about our health and experiences will make all the difference.

This article was submitted by a guest contributor to GreenState. The statements within do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GreenState, Hearst, or its subsidiaries. The author is solely responsible for the content. Always consult a healthcare professional before starting a medical cannabis regimen.

Michelle Courtright Michelle Courtright is Founder and CEO of JANE. She has been an entrepreneur since she was 25, actively involved in the plant-based movement and its effect on climate change. As owner of Fig + Farro restaurant, she was selected as a United Nations delegate at COP24, and serves as a consultant to Support + Feed. In 2017 she was diagnosed with breast cancer and found that cannabis helped tremendously with pain relief, insomnia, and early onset menopause. After developing a cannabis culinary tincture called High Standards, she started to formulate JANE with women in mind. She is a mother to three kids and two pups.