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Do Men and Women Metabolize Drugs Differently?

Do Men and Women Metabolize Drugs Differently?

The difference in how men and women metabolize drugs is a fairly new concept and the subject of several new scientific studies. In most cases, men and women do metabolize drugs in different ways. Women are typically more sensitive than men of a similar body weight to the majority of drugs with the exception of certain anti-depressants and harder drugs like cocaine. With most drugs, women generally metabolize faster than men and thus feel the effects sooner.

Differences in the Way Women and Men Metabolize Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol is a common substance known to effect men and women differently for the following reasons:

  • Women have less body water than men of a similar body weight, which causes women to achieve a higher concentration of alcohol in the blood after consuming an equivalent amount of alcohol as a man.
  • Women have a lower amount of certain enzymes in the body that are responsible for breaking down alcohol in the stomach. This commonly results in women absorbing about 30% more alcohol than a man of similar body weight who consumes an equivalent amount of alcohol.
  • The fluctuating menstrual cycle of women also plays a large role in intensifying the way women metabolize alcohol.

A study conducted by different medical professionals affiliated with Harvard Medical School found that women are generally less sensitive to the effects of cocaine than men of similar weight. The study analyzed the way that six men and six women of similar body weight responded to the effects of cocaine by having them snort equal doses of the substance within a controlled environment. The study found the following results about how women and men experienced different effects from the same amount of cocaine in their systems:

  • The men had higher amounts of euphoric and dysphoric states than the women.
  • The states of dysphoria that the men experienced were generally much more severe than the dysphoria experienced by the women.
  • The men experienced greater increases in heart rate and blood pressure than the women.
  • The men reported feeling the initial effects of the cocaine much earlier than the women.
  • The women had lower amounts of the drug in their blood than the men even though they both received the same dose of the substance.

Due to fluctuating menstrual cycles women often secrete more mucus within the mucus membranes of their nasal passages. Because of the increased mucus production in the nasal passages women may not absorb as much as men when cocaine is snorted. Research about how men and women metabolize drugs differently continues to develop. Some drugs are even beginning to label different recommended doses for men and women.

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