In recognition of Women’s Health Week, Women for Change thought it was timely to help raise awareness of endometriosis, the pain it regularly inflicts upon sufferers of the condition and what research is being done to help treat it.
The numbers are not small. Endometriosis affects one in 10 women of childbearing age, some 176 million women worldwide.
It occurs when cells similar to those that line the uterus are found in other parts of the body, such as a woman's pelvis and reproductive organs. Endometrial cells found outside the uterus grow to form lesions or patches that bleed and leak fluid in response to hormones at the time of menstruation, which can lead to inflammation and scarring.
This leads to immense pain reported by sufferers, both before and during menstruation, during and after sex when bleeding can be common, as well as painful urination, among other symptoms. The Jean Hailes for Women’s Health website carries a lot of helpful information for those who wish to learn more about the condition.
Anecdotal evidence has for a number of years now revealed that women who smoke cannabis find relief from their pain. And according to a report from the ABC, the largest-ever survey of women with endometriosis in Australia has found cannabis works better for pain relief than hot water bottles and heat packs, exercise, meditation breathing practices, and yoga.
The online survey was conducted by the NICM Health Research Institute, with the support of Endometriosis Australia and Endo Active, which asked women what techniques they used to relieve the pain associated with endometriosis.
The anecdotal evidence however, is now about to be supplemented with medical research conducted by Israeli and Canadian medical research institutes. Dr Sari Sagiv, vice president of research and development at Israel’s Gynica, said the researchers set out to find out what compounds or combination of compounds of cannabis can potentially address the problem.
She stated her belief that cannabis has enough compounds that can affect a number of factors of the disease, including reducing pain, inflammation and the risk of recurrence.
The researchers have already tested a variety of cannabis compounds of endometriosis cells in vitro to see how they react to the compounds, and clinical trials are starting later in the year.
Gynica is also collaborating with Canadian company Strainprint, a firm that specialises in data collection and analysis of the effects of cannabis on various diseases. The companies are both working on setting up the world’s largest data collection platform to analyse the effects of cannabis on women.
And given that women outnumber men when it comes to chronic pain, it is to be hoped that this research will contribute to rectifying the current state of affairs where women’s pain is less likely to be treated than men’s.