Did you know that both sexes experience cannabis in different ways? Turns out, THC and your hormones interact quite a bit. Recent research has found that estrogen makes women more sensitive to cannabis. Men, however, may lose out on some of the herb’s key benefits. Here’s how weed affects men & women differently.
There’s a sad trend in scientific research. Though we’ve known for a long time that certain drugs affect men and women differently, the majority of studies out there focus on men. This creates a huge information gap in women’s health. A few researchers are trying to combat this phenomenon. In the past few years, new studies shed some light on how the herb produces different effects in men and women.
1. THC and estrogen
Your cycle can influence your high. A Washington State University research team found that women experience the most effects from THC when estrogen has peaked and is beginning to fall. This happens a day or two before you ovulate. Here’s what lead scientist Rebecca Craft had to say:
What we’re finding with THC is that you get a very clear spike in drug sensitivity right when the females are ovulating, right when their estrogen levels have peaked and are coming down. -Craft
2. Increased pain relief
Craft’s research also found something interesting about pain. The interaction between estrogen and THC makes women more sensitive to the compound in general, which gave the cannabis greater pain-relieving effects. In rodent models, Craft found that females found 30% more pain relief with THC treatment. So, ladies seem to get more benefit out of the herb as a chronic pain-fighter than do men.
3. More likely to experience withdrawal
Do you feel a little extra cranky when you run out of herb? There might be a reason for that. In a small 2010 study, women reported more severe cannabis withdrawal symptoms than their male counterparts. These withdrawal symptoms were mostly physical. Women tend to experience more sleep disruption, lack of appetite, and irritability.
4. Develop tolerance more quickly
Washington State University researchers found that females might become tolerant to THC more quickly. This trait was tested in male and female rats. Since women seem to be more sensitive to THC, the researchers started the lady rats off with a lower dose. They then monitored rats of both sexes for 10 days. After the 10 day period, the female rats needed a much larger dose to exhibit the same effects. Though this test was done in rodents, it hints that women become desensitized to the psychoactive more quickly.
After the 10 day period, the female rats needed a much larger dose to exhibit the same effects. Though this test was done in rodents, it hints that women become desensitized to the psychoactive more quickly. Taking tolerance breaks can address this issue.
5. Visuospatial memory issues
A study from 2010 found that cannabis might make women more forgetful than male counterparts. Specifically, cannabis seems to affect visuospatial memory in women more than men. Visuospatial memory is what allows you to create maps in your head. It helps you recall directions and remember locations of things. With chronic smoking, women seemed to have more trouble with this form of memory than men.
6. Improved libido
There’s a bit of a catch to this one. In low doses, cannabis causes an increase in female libido. High doses, however, seem to have the opposite effect. Estrogen is once again the culprit behind this effect. Estrogen levels are major contributors to female sex drive. The cross-talk between estrogen and THC is thought to influence libido. Yet, in high doses, THC may
Yet, in high doses, THC may interfere with estrogen and thereby make you less interested in sex. For best results, opt for a low THC strain (14% or so).
Overall, men seem to fare pretty darn well with cannabis. Studies examining gender differences thus far have pointed out more potential troubles for women than they have for men. Yet, there are a few key differences that will affect your high. Here are some of the big ones:
1. More munchies
Cannabis is more likely to spur hunger in men than in women. So, when you’re smoking with a lady friend, there’s a reason why you eat 3/4s of a pizza and your companion is satisfied after a couple of slices. In fact, according to Rebecca Craft’s work with Washington State University, increased appetite was one of the only cannabis side effects increased in men.
2. Less pain relief
Sorry, bros. You’re going to need a lot more cannabis to knock out pain than the ladies. Men are less sensitive to cannabis, so the herb’s pain-relieving qualities are a bit blunted by comparison. Back in 2013, Craft and her team tested THC’s effect against chronic pain in rats. Female rats fared much better than males when it came to symptom relief. Men will have to consume more to get similar results.
3. More likely to experience psychosis
Though men seem to win overall in potential negative effects of cannabis, women have you beat in one key area. A study in 2015 found that men are more likely to experience cannabis-induced psychosis. Males outnumber females by 2:1 when it comes to psychotic symptoms. Psychosis is a rare phenomenon among cannabis users, and many researchers are still debating whether or not it is real. According to recent research, it seems to have a genetic component.
4. Complicated libido
It seems like there’s a bit of a time constraint for getting in the mood after smoking. Researchers tested testosterone levels post THC in rodents back in the 1980s. The psychoactive caused a spike in testosterone shortly after smoking. In low doses, this spike continued for about an hour. In high doses, it only lasted 20 minutes.
After that, testosterone levels dipped lower than baseline. If you’re ready for a little love, perhaps it’s best to take advantage of the herb’s aphrodisiac effects shortly after consuming.
Though, rodent studies may or may not amount to much when it comes to humans. So, you have to take this with a grain of salt.
It looks like men and women both have their own unique advantages and disadvantages with cannabis use. Amplified THC sensitivity in women means that they need less of the herb to find effective pain relief. Yet, they’re also more likely to build tolerance. Overall, men are less sensitive to cannabis. But, they can expect a serious case of the munchies the next time they light up.
Have you noticed any ways weed affects men & women differently when you’ve been smoking with friends or loved ones? Share your story with us on social media or in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
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