How Cannabis Affects Men Versus Women

Science & Research Lisa Rough 12/20/2017
People form cannabis
Cannabis can affect each person differently and yet unite us completely.


Cannabis is one of the most singularly individualized experiences in the world.

Any two people can have completely different experiences after consuming the same cannabis sample.

It all comes down to your body and brain chemistry.

So this begs the question:

Can a person's sex affect how cannabis interacts with their physiology?

Cannabis use can certainly have an impact on hormones, neurotransmitter levels, and other behaviors.

Although there are no absolutes, here's what the current science says about the different cannabis effects men and women.

We’d love hear how your experiences compare in the comment section below!

Women & Cannabis

Women and cannabis
Women may be more sensitive to cannabinoids than men.

A woman’s experience around cannabis is influenced by hormones and brain chemistry, and there are also some interesting social differences here compared to men.

Are you ready to dig into this?

Visuospatial Skills:

Visuospatial ability is being able to recognize the relationship between objects, shapes, and places, such as when following a map.

One study noted that women who were nearly-everyday cannabis users performed poorly while testing their visuospatial skills compared to light cannabis users -- with no difference in men on the same test.

If you find yourself getting lost in your own city, cannabis might be the culprit.

Age of First Cannabis Use:

Here’s a peculiar data point.

Generally women try cannabis later in life than men, although the number of new cannabis users among women is increasing.

Meanwhile the number of new users in men is on the decline.

THC Sensitivities:

Does this reflect your experience with cannabis?

Women may be more sensitive to cannabinoids than men, as suggested by an intensive study on the influence of cannabinoid receptors in ovarian function.

And there’s more to the equation here…

Brain Chemistry:

It turns out that the female brain has increased cannabinoid receptor density compared to males.

This would definitely help explain higher sensitivity to THC.

Maybe the receptor density has something to do with the fact that female brains mature earlier than male brains?

Hormones & Libido:

Women are particularly sensitive to the effects of cannabis during ovulation, when estrogen levels are peaking, according to a study done by Professor Rebecca Craft.

With the consumption of small doses of cannabis, women may also see a libido increase.

Larger doses of THC, however, may actually have the opposite effect and reduce interest in sex.

Libido and cannabis is tricky to quantify because so many factors are at play.

Men & Cannabis

Selfie with Cannabis
Hanging out with our favorite plant.

The male experience with cannabis is no less affected by hormones and brain chemistry, but there are a few peculiarities specific only to men.  

Sperm Count:

This one is definitely still up for debate.

A four-year study on the reproductive hormones of males found that men had a significantly lower sperm count with regular cannabis use.

However, these subjects were also prone to higher alcohol and caffeine intake, which may impact the results.

Plus, there are a number of other factors that can affect sperm count.

If you are having issues with sperm count, don't be so quick to blame it on the cannabis.

Munchies:

Hungry?

One of the most notable effects for men is that they tend to experience an appetite increase more often than women, leading to “the munchies.”

Keep this in check by either eating before cannabis consumption or stocking up in health snacks.

Psychosis:

Is cannabis-induced pyschosis really a thing?

If you've had a history of psychosis, you should tread carefully here.

We know at least one cannabis physician who suggests that anybody with a history of mental illness should experiment with cannabis in controlled settings.

A subject that is still up for debate is the concept that men are more likely to experience psychosis from cannabis use.

These symptoms are usually temporary, and tend to arise in subjects who are already living with mental illness, and therefore this particularly quandary definitely requires more study.  

Long-Term Memory:

Cannabis affects memory in several ways.

With regular cannabis use during adulthood, men may be more likely to experience long-term memory deficits (although this could be attributed to women’s natural predisposition for a better working memory).

How Both Sexes Experience Cannabis

When it comes to the battle of the sexes, some experiences are common to both men and women after consuming cannabis.

Short-Term Memory:

Memory impairment occurs in both men and women directly after THC consumption, especially in the recall of newly acquired information.

Decision-Making:

In a test of decision-making skills, both sexes were NOT negatively affected by cannabis in making decisions, although the decision-making time was slowed with the addition of THC.

Next time you can’t decide what movie to watch, the cannabis may be at least partly to blame.

Libido:

When using cannabis in the bedroom, both men and women have been recorded as having a surge in libido, but the amount of THC definitely plays a role.

With women, smaller amounts of THC are more likely to increase sexual appetite.  

Men will experience a surge in testosterone after consuming cannabis, but this surge may be dependent on the size of the dose, as well.

In smaller doses, the testosterone boost may last up to an hour, but with higher doses of THC, it dissipates after 20 minutes.

If you’re looking for sexy time, a little bit of cannabis goes a long way.

Many of these conclusions are based on decades of research, but your experience may vary.

The real question is this: How does cannabis affect you?


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