Different effects of marijuana on men and women

Different effects of marijuana on men and women

Women smoking joint
Reading Time: 7 minutes

The use of marijuana can have completely different effects on man and women. What causes that? The various effects have to do with the difference in biochemistry. THC from cannabis reacts with testosterone receptors in the male body. And in the female body it has an effect on estrogen receptors. Read on and discover everything about the different effects of marijuana on men and women.

What causes the different effects of marijuana on men and women?

The use of cannabis has a different effect on everyone. This is also the tricky point when prescribing marijuana as a medicine. It is difficult to draft general guidelines regarding dosage. Every person is different and has a different biochemistry. In the case of cannabis, the differences are also noticeable between men and women. Men react very differently to the herb than women. The use of cannabis with men often evokes a feeling of hunger, while with women this is less so. Women, on the other hand, benefit greatly from marijuana as a painkiller. But the differences in effects go much further. Marijuana has even more gender-specific impact. For example on our memory, libido, and on the tolerance levels. Read on discover everything about the different effects of marijuana on men and women. 

Another study shows that women are more likely to develop a dependence on marijuana. This is because they experience the withdrawal symptoms more intensively. Eating and sleeping habits of women are often negatively influenced once they have stopped using cannabis. In this way women are influenced more negatively than men.

The results from these studies do not apply to everyone. But they provide an interesting insight into how people react differently to marijuana and also partly explain our behavior when we are high!

Gender specific effects of weed

Lighting a joint

The active substances in the cannabis plants react very differently to testosterone than to estrogen. As a result, men notice very different effects than women, and vice versa. The unique biochemical compositions cause other reactions.

Studies show that women develop a higher tolerance for cannabis. It also appears that the combination of estrogen and THC provides a strong analgesic effect. Weed is a very effective pain reliever for women. It even works more than 40% better than with men. Another study shows that for women who use weed, memory is affected more quickly supposed to men.

A lot of research focuses on the therapeutic effects of cannabis, but it is vital to know how it can affect you based on sexuality. Many of these differences are caused by sex hormones, particularly the presence of estrogen, which means that the female body metabolizes weed differently from their male counterparts. 

What makes Cannabis affect men and women differently?

Each individual responds differently to cannabis-based on their unique biochemistry and genetic factors such as height and weight. Yet gender can also play a vital role in a person’s cannabis relationship. Significant variations between male and female anatomy and physiology have a massive impact on how people respond to marijuana.

Here are a few differences:

Differences in metabolism

While this is still under study, preclinical studies have shown that men and women metabolize marijuana chemicals differently. This is mainly because of sex hormones, but the research is incomplete.

Although there may be other reasons that we still do not know about, recent research has focused on these three differences between men and women. However, the bulk of the study emphasizes the interaction between sex hormones and cannabis chemical compounds.

Brain Neurotransmitters

Cannabis chemicals act by binding to specific brain receptors. Such receptor numbers, densities and functions vary from person to person, resulting in different effects for each consumer.  

The presence and amount of other sex hormones affect the prevalence of these receptors. Since the amount of each form of sex hormone varies between men and women, there are different levels of receptors that influence how they respond to cannabis.

Sex Hormones

Gender hormones not only influence the number of receptors in the brain — some hormones specifically affect cannabis chemicals. Estrogen is most remarkable because it regulates the production of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH).

The compound breaks down the human body’s natural THC version of the endocannabinoid anandamide. When the levels of estrogen drop, FAAH is less regulated and can freely weaken anandamide. It can lead to increased anxiety and depression and a decreased response to THC.

Man smoking weed

How cannabis affects the Male Body

Men are more likely to use marijuana than women at higher rates. Male cannabis users often appear to have higher levels of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta9-THC) in their bloodstreams. Also, many males have a higher prevalence of personality and panic disorders. Men have also been reported to be more prone to appetite stimulation and food intake.

Research shows that men also appear to have more positive reactions to marijuana. It may be because males have fewer monthly sex hormone variations than females. The use of marijuana by men also affects the development of hormones.

THC mainly blocks the production of gonadotropins in the adrenal glands essential to testosterone production.

Summary of Effects on men

While marijuana provides several advantages for men and women, specific side effects are more likely to affect men than women. These are:

Male fertility: THC affects sex hormones linked to sperm production and sexual performance. Therefore it can lead to fertility issues. 

Cognitive ability: Although findings on the impact of marijuana on cognition remain generally uncertain, some studies have shown that chronic use in men results in slower response times and reduced inhibitions. Some studies show that male rats showed decreased motivation and changes in brain areas that regulate stress and memory when they received high doses of THC over more extended periods.

Not all users experience these results, and some studies have found that there is no correlation between the use of marijuana and these behaviors. The idea that people are more likely to develop psychosis after consuming marijuana is much rarer and more divisive. It is not clear whether genetic factors are involved, but research is now underway to understand better why this happens.

Testosterone: reduced testosterone levels due to THC intake can significantly affect the sexual health of males. In particular, the use of THC is linked to lower libido and sexual performance. However, these effects are not permanent, and one can restore normal testosterone levels by taking a cannabis break.

Increased hunger: After marijuana intake men appear to be more prone to hunger, being victims of “munchies” than women. This is also one of the few side effects of THC, which affects men more than women. Although this is not inherently good or bad, you should take note during your next snack purchase.

Woman smoking weed

How cannabis affects the Female Body

Although most of the research available on marijuana focuses on men, other studies have looked at the effects of marijuana on the female body. Many are particularly interested in how women’s hormonal cycles affect their cannabis reactions.

Estrogen controls endocannabinoid breakdown and the levels of estrogen fluctuate depending on menstrual cycle. For example, women tend to become more sensitive to THC when oestrogen levels increase during ovulation. Women’s bodies break down endocannabinoids more easily during menstruation when their estrogen levels are lower and do not react as strongly to THC.

There are also significant behavioural variations between men and women in terms of marijuana intake. Women are less likely to smoke than men, and they prefer to smoke later in their lives.

When asked about why they smoked, women said they used it as a means of coping with social and psychological stress. They also appear to increase their marijuana consumption rate faster than men and have more trouble withdrawing and relapse often.   

Part of the explanation for this may be that women develop THC tolerance faster than men, especially with the daily use of the substance.

Experts recommend that women slow down their intake of marijuana because their response to THC may change. Doctors usually suggest that women adapt the type of strain they use to the point of their menstrual cycle when they are more sensitive, using strains with higher THC levels during ovulation.

Summary of Effects on women  

While marijuana is often more beneficial than it is harmful, it’s important to recognize some of the common side effects women experience. A few of the most common side effects for women include:

High Sensitivity

women are more sensitive to almost all marijuana effects, with the only exception being that men are more prone to increased hunger. This may make it easier for women to feel marijuana’s psychoactive properties.

It also means that women have a higher risk of experiencing adverse effects, such as increased nausea and anxiety. This sensitivity increases if the amount of estrogen is high, like ovulation days


Women can encounter disorientation shortly after marijuana usage, leading to difficulties in maintaining balance, and finding objects or locations. Many women also report a sense of dizziness following marijuana consumption which can lead to further disorientation.


Women appear to have more severe withdrawal symptoms than men when they stop taking cannabis. There is chronic anxiety and nausea. While several researchers believe that women’s higher marijuana tolerance may be associated with their enhanced withdrawal symptoms, these mechanisms are still misunderstood.

Key Takeaways on Effect of Cannabis on Men and Women

Men and women are different in their hormonal and genetic behavior. They process different knowledge, exhibit different attitudes, social skills, interpret emotions and experience and show variations in cognitive ability, and anatomy in relation to gender. 

In other behavioral and physiological aspects, Cannabinoids show sex-dependent effects, such as energy balance and food intakes (more visible to males) and depression and anxiety (more visible to females). It is essential to consider how marijuana can affect you based on your sex.

  • Women who are interested in using cannabis for pain need a higher dose than men to get similar outcomes.
  • Cannabis has a more positive impact on sexual stimulation in women than in men.
  • Testosterone production in men may be adversely affected by cannabis
  • Men will probably not need tolerance breaks as often as women.
  • Women have more withdrawal signs than men when they take a break from cannabis

Final Thoughts

These studies are still in their infancy in terms of conclusive research, but the initial results confirm that cannabis affects men and women differently. Gender is essential when it comes to the efficacy of cannabis medicinal products. Further clinical research is required to confirm what previous preclinical studies have shown.

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