Cannabis and Alcohol Use in the Menopausal Journey - Joylux

Cannabis and Alcohol Use in the Menopausal Journey

The menopausal journey is a transformative experience that often prompts women to rethink various aspects of their lives. Menopause can be a rollercoaster of symptoms such as night sweats, sleep problems, hot flashes, and weight gain, which make life challenging. Some habits affect the frequency and severity of these symptoms, like the use of cannabis and alcohol. During this delicate dance of hormonal shifts, women often find themselves contemplating the role of these substances on their menopausal symptoms and personal well-being.

Trying to juggle life while experiencing debilitating symptoms of menopause makes us want to decompress, and this often means reaching for a drink or two to alleviate stress temporarily. However, it is thought that drinking alcohol may exacerbate the symptoms. This has prompted some women to turn to cannabinoids. It is thought that just like alcohol, cannabis can invoke the feeling of relaxation but without the adverse side effects that alcohol carries. A survey by Dahlgren et al. (2022) also suggests that women can ease certain taxing perimenopause and menopause symptoms using cannabis.

This article dives into the realms of cannabis and alcohol during menopause, uncovering the nuances, dispelling myths, and exploring the unique ways in which these substances intersect with women's health during the menopausal journey.

Cannabis and Menopause

The cannabis plant contains several components, including molecules called cannabinoids, which are also found in the human body and make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is involved in nearly every biological process, including metabolism, hormone regulation, thermoregulation, mood, stress, sleep, digestion, immunity, and more. Cannabinoids interact with the ECS in different ways, which may contribute to easing symptoms of menopause.

The two common cannabinoids extracted from the marijuana plant that gets the most attention in menopause are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis that gets you high. However, in low doses, THC may promote a calming effect. CBD does not have psychoactive properties but contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help with pain and promote health.

Cannabis is available in various forms, and what you choose will depend on your preferences and health needs. Some common forms include:

  • Buds that are often smoked or vaporized. Those who prefer not to handle the cannabis flower themselves can get pre-rolled joints.
  • Edibles can be infused in food products such as gummies, baked goods, and chocolates.
  • Tinctures are liquid extracts you can add to food and beverages or take sublingually. 
  • Topicals such as creams, balms, and patches.
  • Capsules and sublingual strips.
  • Oils and concentrates.

Health Impacts of Cannabis

Research is still ongoing on how cannabis impacts our health and well-being during menopause, but it promises certain therapeutic benefits to common menopause symptoms.

Benefits of Cannabis for Menopausal Women

  • It has the potential to ease various menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, insomnia, and mood swings.
  • CBD has anxiolytic properties that help regulate mood, potentially addressing anxiety and stress associated with menopause.
  • Cannabis strains high in CBD can help improve sleep quality for women struggling with sleep disturbances common during menopause.
  • Both THC and CBD have analgesic properties that can help alleviate pain and discomfort related to menopausal symptoms or conditions like arthritis.
  • Cannabis offers a more natural and holistic approach, which can potentially reduce the need for synthetic medications.
  • Unlike alcohol, cannabis does not result in headaches, nausea, and dehydration that often accompany alcohol consumption and can worsen symptoms of menopause.


  • Cannabis laws and regulations vary with jurisdiction. It, therefore, is not accessible to everyone.
  • The psychoactive component of cannabis, THC, can cause euphoria and cognitive impairment, which some users find undesirable.
  • Long-term, heavy use may lead to dependency.
  • Cannabis can be taken in several forms, and different individuals respond differently, which makes it difficult to determine a suitable dosage and strain.

Alcohol and Menopause

Our bodies react to alcohol in several ways, even when we ingest just a small amount. Alcohol slows down the chemicals and pathways that the brain uses to control the body, altering mood, slowing down reflexes, and affecting balance. It also increases heart rate, expands the blood vessels, and dehydrates the body. Excessive drinking within a short period, or binge drinking, increases stress on the body and internal organs like the kidneys and liver. 

For menopausal women, alcohol has various effects that influence both physical and psychological aspects of this transitional phase. One study established that drinking small amounts of alcohol is linked with improved well-being through menopause. Likewise, research indicates that drinking small amounts can be associated with a lower risk of heart disease. But while these findings seem to suggest some benefits, currently available evidence indicates that the potential harms of drinking alcohol outweigh its benefits. 

Health Impacts of Alcohol

As we age, our bodies become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol, most especially during menopause.

Benefits of Alcohol for Menopausal Women

  • A study from the United Kingdom indicates that moderate alcohol consumption can help reduce the risk of heart disease in menopausal women.
  • A South Korean study shows moderate alcohol consumption may lead to a significant boost in bone density.
  • Moderate drinking is also linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia, and obesity.
  • Sharing a drink gives you a sense of normalcy and allows you to bond amidst the struggles with menopausal symptoms socially.


  • Alcohol makes worse the already common sleep problems of menopause. It interferes with the natural sleep cycle, leading to fragmented and less restorative sleep. This contributes to increased fatigue and irritability, compounding the challenges associated with hormonal fluctuations.
  • Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and can intensify symptoms like mood swings, anxiety, and depression, already present during menopause.
  • Alcoholic drinks are calorically dense, and excessive intake can lead to unwanted weight gain.
  • Alcohol is a vasodilator and can potentially intensify hot flashes and night sweats, which are already prevalent during menopause.
  • Long-term use of alcohol has the potential for addiction and negative impact on physical and mental health.

Cannabis vs Alcohol Use in Menopause

Both alcohol and cannabis have potential benefits and risks when used during menopause. It is, therefore, essential to approach their use responsibly. They can help you unwind, relax, socialize, and ease some of the concerns you experience during menopause. However, they can also have some immediate or long-term consequences impairing you physically and mentally. 

Generally, cannabis is safer than alcohol, especially if used responsibly. While both carry a potential for misuse and addiction, this is a more common problem with alcohol. Cannabis has fewer long-term risks than alcohol, but this can also be attributed to the limited amount of research on it compared to alcohol.

Considerations for Choosing Between Cannabis and Alcohol

When choosing between alcohol and cannabis, you need to be aware of the legal implications in your jurisdiction. Some laws and policies control the use of these substances, and you want to ensure you understand and comply with them.

Another consideration for alcohol and cannabis use comes down to your health concerns and the advice given by your doctors. You don't want to exacerbate existing menopausal symptoms or existing health conditions or even increase the risk of developing a new medical issue.

Your lifestyle and personal preferences could also influence your inclination to either cannabis or alcohol. The numerous consumption methods of cannabis are great for those looking for personalized or flexible experiences. If you want a more socially acceptable alternative, then alcohol would be an ideal choice.


Both alcohol and cannabis are potential aids in symptom management for women who are seeking to address the various physical and emotional challenges associated with menopause. But while alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns, worsen hot flashes, and impact hormonal balance, cannabis, particularly with a balanced CBD to THC ratio, can offer a more nuanced approach. Cannabis shows promising potential to alleviate symptoms of menopause, like insomnia, mood swings, and pain, without the risky side effects associated with alcohol consumption.

However, it is still crucial that you approach both substances with caution. Always consult with a healthcare professional to receive personalized guidance on integrating either option into your menopausal wellness strategy. Also, keep an eye out for any new evidence that may emerge from the ongoing studies on cannabis and alcohol and how they affect women during the various menopausal phases. 

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