During Endometriosis Awareness Month, Sapphire Medical Clinics discusses how medical cannabis can help manage the chronic pain associated with the condition.
Endometriosis is often associated with pelvic or abdominal pain but can also cause significant pain elsewhere in the body and lead to other symptoms, including painful sex, reduced fertility, and fatigue. The pain typically begins a few days before a woman gets her period and can last its duration.
The pain and other symptoms of endometriosis can significantly impact a woman’s quality of life. This is exacerbated by delays in diagnosis: on average it seven and a half years from the onset of symptoms for a woman to receive a diagnosis. This delay is in part due to implicit bias, which involves “associations outside conscious awareness that lead to a negative evaluation of a person on the basis of irrelevant characteristics such as race or gender.” Implicit bias is prevalent across the healthcare profession.
Conventional endometriosis-related pain treatment utilises pain killers and/or hormonal treatment, with a role for surgical intervention in appropriate patients. Medicinal cannabis is an alternative when first line therapies have not achieved adequate clinical benefit. Until November 2018, when medical cannabis became legal, women suffering from endometriosis, whose traditional pain treatment was not working, were unable to access legal medical cannabis to treat their pain. They were subsequently forced to self-medicate by purchasing illicit cannabis, where there is no guarantee of its quality and risk of contamination with harmful substances.
Sapphire Medical’s mission is to improve patient access to MHRA-approved medical cannabis to treat debilitating pain as a result of endometriosis, as well as other chronic-pain-related conditions when their conventional therapies have not worked.
Dr Wendy Holden, Rheumatologist and Pain Specialist at Sapphire Medical, said: “Endometriosis impacts 1.5 million women in the UK and therefore Sapphire Medical strongly supports Endometriosis Awareness Month and is committed to supporting women who suffer from it. As our knowledge of pain conditions that respond positively to medical cannabis grows, Sapphire Medical wants to ensure more patients know that medical cannabis is an option for their pain.
“Moreover, the issue of implicit bias is one that we take very seriously at Sapphire Medical as it relates to all of our patients. To ensure a patient-centred approach is always taken, Sapphire Medical has instituted a system that includes a rigorous process to prescribing medication. This includes a strict triaging process and a multi-disciplinary team deciding every potential new patient prescription.”
Andie Willis, a patient of Sapphire Medical who previously suffered with endometriosis and is prescribed medical cannabis for a chronic-pain-related condition, commented: “Endometriosis is an evil condition that brings a raft of issues to women, including excruciating pain. Medical cannabis has been very helpful in managing my pain.”