You know how cannabis affects most people in a very different way? Well, you may not realise it, but marijuana also has a very different effect on male and female users. Now, this probably won’t come as a huge surprise to those who regularly smoke in mixed circles. It’s pretty obvious to anyone that men and women react differently to cannabis – it’s just that it’s only as of relatively recently that we are starting to find out why.
So…why is this the case?
Well, in the simplest terms it all comes down to the way in which the THC in cannabis reacts with the hormones in the human body to quite a significant extent. And given the fact that male and female hormones are fundamentally different, it really only makes sense that the effects cannabis has differ between the sexes. Just as men might actually not get the full benefit from cannabis, women may be more sensitive to marijuana due to higher levels of oestrogen.
And it doesn’t stop there either – take a look at the following rundown of just a few interesting ways cannabis affects women and men differently:
It may be something that has passed you by, but even in this day and age there is still a huge disparity when it comes to scientific studies carried out with a focus on men or women. Roughly translated, the vast majority of studies still focus primarily on males. Which has of course led to an unfortunate gap in the kind of female health data and information the world really needs. Still, a growing contingency of proactive scientists are now looking to bridge this gap, and have already come up with some seriously interesting findings with regard to female cannabis users.
THC and Oestrogen
For example, a study carried out by a team of researchers from Washington State University found a direct correlation between the intensity of a THC high and the respective woman’s oestrogen levels at the time. They found that when a woman’s oestrogen peaked and summarily started falling again, this was the time at which the THC had the strongest effect. Which is precisely why a woman’s cycle can have a massive impact on how she reacts to cannabis. 24 to 48 hours before ovulation, oestrogen hits its highest peak and drug sensitivity escalates enormously, so reported to the research team.
Better Pain Relief
The same research team also found that the pain-relieving properties of cannabis may be significantly elevated in female users. This again comes down to the way in which THC and oestrogen react with one another – the long and short of it being that higher levels of oestrogen make for greater sensitivity to drugs. Which means that along with experiencing a much stronger high from the THC, the pain-relieving effects of the cannabis were also greatly increased. On the whole, the study found that women experienced an average of 30% more pain relief than their male counterparts, when provided with the same dose of cannabis.
Worse Withdrawal Symptoms
There was another relatively small scale study carried out in 2010, which brought to light evidence to suggest that withdrawal symptoms affect female cannabis users more than males. Which is precisely why if you’re a female stoner and you find yourself feeling more than a little perturbed when you run dry…well, it seems there’s scientific backing for your plight! In specific, it was found that women experience a number of physical withdrawal symptoms much more strongly than men – irritability, lack of appetite and sleep disruption in particular.
Higher Tolerance Faster
Deny it all you like, but chances are you have always suspected that men are able to both handle more cannabis and become tolerant to stronger doses of the stuff faster than women. In reality however, science has shown us that it may in fact be the exact opposite that is the case. During clinical trials carried out on female and male rats, it was found that after a 10-day period of measured cannabis doses, the female rats needed much bigger doses to experience the same effects as the male rats. They didn’t go so far as to test the theory out on female human beings, but the evidence was sufficient for the research team to reach the conclusion that females build tolerances to cannabis faster than males.
Visuospatial Memory Issues
This is essentially the scientific term for the brain’s ability to make mental maps. It’s how you remember the way home, where you parked your car and generally where things are and how to get around. There’s been a long-perpetuated stereotype that women aren’t as good with maps as men. It’s a long debated theory to say the least, but when it comes to cannabis use, it seems women suffer more visuospatial memory problems than men. Or to put it another way, a female cannabis smoker is more likely to forget where things are and how to get where they are going while high than a man.
Last but not least, while it’s something to be approached with caution, scientific research has shown that cannabis can have a beneficial effect on a woman’s libido. It once again comes down to the way in which the active compounds in the cannabis react with oestrogen – limited amounts of THC apparently boosting libido in a big way. The only problem in this particular instance being that it’s also known that if THC intake goes a little too high, it can have the exact opposite effect and cripple a woman’s libido. Which is precisely why experts recommend anyone turning to cannabis to improve their sex drive to focus on low-THC strains and careful toking.
As for men, most scientific evidence seems to suggest that men don’t run into nearly as many problems through cannabis consumption as women might – lower oestrogen levels apparently being a Godsend. Still, there are some differences in the way blokes react and fare, which include the following:
As far as scientific research to date has shown us, one of the only major side effects cannabis appears to inflict more strongly on men is that of heavier and more prolonged munchies. The only problem being that we don’t exactly know why this is the case. We know it is, we just don’t know why. Which basically means that next time you are frowned at for pigging out when your female smoking partner settles for light nibbles, you can feel free to blame it on your biology, rather than your greed.
Less Pain Relief
As already touched upon, it also appears that men are less likely to experience strong and on-going pain relief from cannabis than their female counterparts. Along with the previously mentioned study that linked stronger reactions to cannabis with higher oestrogen levels, a separate study into how cannabis relieves pain found that female rats benefited from much longer and more effective pain relief than male rats given the same dose of cannabis. In order for male rats to experience the same results, it was necessary to give them considerably higher doses of cannabis.
More Likely to Experience Psychosis
While cannabis-induced psychosis is comparatively rare, it is nonetheless a condition that is considerably more likely to be experienced by men. In fact, when it comes to psychotic symptoms in general, men take the lead by a two-to-one ratio. Of course, the fact that scientists and cannabis experts alike are still debating whether or not cannabis psychosis even exists draws a rather large question mark by this particular finding. Still, it seems that when individuals for any particular reason find themselves facing negative psychotic symptoms allegedly due to heavy cannabis use, they are exponentially more likely to be male than female.
Last but not least, it’s become apparent that male hormones also have their own unique reactions when THC is introduced into the system. A series of experiments dating as far back as the 1980s have found that testosterone levels spike quite significantly in the immediate moments after cannabis is smoked. But just as is the case with females, there’s a pretty fine line between just right and too much – men also being somewhat limited time-wise, so it seems. The scientists found that when the male test subjects were given a high dose of THC, the beneficial effects on their libido lasted a paltry 20 minutes. By contrast, when they were given a much lower dose, testosterone levels continued to spike for around 1 hour. Which in turn led to the conclusion that if a fella plans to use weed before getting busy in the bedroom, they might want to get busy as soon as possible after hitting the stuff!