Men, Women, and Cannabis: Different Responses to the Same Substance
As you may have figured out for yourself when you attained puberty, men and women have some significant biological differences. These differences beyond such obvious issues as outward appearance and physical traits to basic chemical processes, including hormonal and reproductive processes. It’s only logical, then, that the two sexes might react differently to substances such as the cannabidiol (CBD) and THC found in cannabis. But do these differences really exist, and if so, why do they occur, and how do they manifest themselves in terms of usage behaviors and health benefits?
How Men and Women React to Cannabis
Men and women appear to differ in their initial reactions to cannabis. Men seem to experience more obvious appetite stimulation, for example; they are more prone to getting “the munchies” after using cannabis. Women seem more sensitive to cannabis’s other effects, such as visuospatial disorientation. Women can also experience stronger withdrawal symptoms once they stop using cannabis. At the same time, however, women can develop a tolerance to a given level of cannabis consumption more quickly and easily than their male counterparts. This more rapidly building of tolerance may lead to women developing marijauana dependency more easily than men. (This problem would not apply in use of CBD products, which contain extraordinarily small amounts of THC.)
Cannabis isn’t the only substance that affects men and women in different ways. Brain researchers have found that male and female brains also react differently to nicotine. In male smokers, the drug affects a brain structure called the ventral striatum, while in female smokers, the dorsal striatum is stimulated instead. The sexes also differ in the layout of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which controls numerous biochemical responses — including the release and availability of the pleasure-giving neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Research on hints implies that males appear to have more CB1 receptors than females, but females’ CB1 receptors function more efficiently. On the systemic level, men’s bodies may metabolize cannabis differently than women’s bodies.
How Cannabis Usage Differs Between the Sexes
The differences in how men and women experience cannabis may provide some reasons for the different usage tendencies between the sexes. Studies indicate that men prefer to smoke or vape cannabis, while women are more likely to choose edible or topical products. They are also more likely to use cannabis for functional reasons such as anxiety reduction or pain relief, while men are more likely to use it recreationally. Men are also four times more likely to try cannabis than women, possibly because testosterone promotes risk-taking impulses and behaviors.
How Sex Hormones Influence the Effects of Cannabis
Sex hormones play a major role in how cannabis, once consumed, affects the bodies and brains of men and women. The same testosterone that promotes risk-taking, for example, also suppresses the reward response in the brain, which may explain why men can use more cannabis without experiencing dramatic changes in tolerance. Meanwhile, a woman’s response to cannabis may vary wildly according to her current estrogen level, since estrogen can reduce the substance’s effects to some degree.
How Cannabis Offers Different (and Overlapping) Benefits to Men and Women
As mentioned above, cannabis appears to have more of an appetite-stimulating effect on men than it does on women. Men also seem to get greater pain relief from cannabis than women as a general rule, although women with high estrogen levels can experience even more profound pain relief than men. Cannabis can temporarily lower testosterone levels in men, reducing desire and performance; meanwhile, lower doses may stimulate sexual desire in women, with larger doses having the opposite effect. The good news is that cannabis products may also help men fight prostate cancer as part of a doctor-supervised treatment plan.
Products containing CBD and THC can prove helpful for women experiencing pain, discomfort, and mood problems related to low or fluctuating estrogen levels, since estrogen and the endocannabinoid system interact closely. These products have also shown the ability to fight breast cancer, making them potentially crucial as a complement to traditional medical treatment methods.
Both sexes may find cannabis a useful tool for dealing with anxiety, nausea, anorexia, stress, muscle spasms, insomnia, and other common complaints. Whether you’re a man or a woman, this natural substance might make valuable contributions to your quality of life.