Does THC Affect Men and Women Differently

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
January 3, 2023
THC affect.
THC affect.

People are different on multiple levels: emotionally, physically, and mentally; men and women also differ on a biological level hence the question arises whether marijuana affects them also differ. Although we all have endocannabinoid receptors, the way THC interacts with those in males and females may be distinctly different.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid in cannabis that is responsible for getting us “high.” But, what that high feels like can actually be different depending on if you are a man or a woman. We know that men’s and women’s bodies have different configurations of hormones like testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen, all of which play a key role in how THC makes us feel. Besides, men’s and women’s hormones fluctuate at different rates, which means that depending on your sex, you may notice that your high changes along with your hormone levels.

Surprisingly, science has not taken this topic very seriously until recently, which means that only now are we starting to get the answer to – “How does THC affect men and women us depending on biological differences?”

This post is intended as information and for general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is recommended that you talk to a healthcare professional about this before introducing cannabinoids into your daily routine (especially if you have been diagnosed with any medical conditions or are under any medication). It is not recommended to drive or operate any machinery when using cannabis- or hemp-derived products. Use responsibly!

Gender Analysis

We briefly need to touch upon the topic of gender vs. biological sex to make some distinctions. We are talking about how THC affects men and women based on innate biological factors. Hence, we are looking at biological males and biological females who have different hormones, neural architecture, metabolisms, and more, all of which play a role in how the compounds in cannabis interact with their bodies and produce their effects. This means that we aren’t going to be talking about gender as a social concept.

THC’s interaction with hormones in men and women can vary. For example, a man with low testosterone levels may experience weed differently from a man with high testosterone levels, and a woman who leans on the estrogen-dominant side may experience cannabis differently than a woman who has low estrogen levels due to her age. As hormone levels are affected by so many aspects of our lifestyles, including our diets, stress levels, and activity levels which can fluctuate throughout our lives, our weed highs can also change throughout different phases of life to reflect these internal hormonal evolutions.

But, at the end of the day, there are some clear differences in how THC works based on the configuration of our hormones as well as other innate biological differences. So, if you’ve noticed that you and your opposite-sex partner or friend experience some surprising differences when smoking weed together, now you will know that it is not all in your head.

How does Cannabis Affect Women?

Usually, women have higher progesterone and estrogen levels than men and lower testosterone levels. At the same time, women’s hormones fluctuate more frequently and dramatically than men’s, and all of these things can influence their “high.”

Overall, women typically report that cannabis and THC give them more relief from mood disorders like anxiety and depression than men, and this has to do with the interaction between THC and estrogen and progesterone, which may respond more to THC than testosterone. Many women even find that smoking cannabis during their pre-menstrual phase helps with the rapid mood swings that they can develop, as well as irritability, anxiety, and depression that are more prominent during those days.

Women also note that they feel relief from pain more quickly after smoking weed than men. Men can also find pain relief through weed, but the effects typically take longer to feel. The exact reason remains a mystery, but again, it likely has hormonal origins. At the same time, women are more likely to get dizzy after smoking some weed, and that is something that scientists are still trying to figure out. 

You might be surprised to learn that a woman’s weed tolerance can change quite a bit throughout their menstrual cycle. It seems that around the time of their period, or in the few days leading up to it, their tolerance increases, meaning that they need more cannabis to get the same THC effect they get throughout the rest of the month. Again, this is something that is still being studied, but it is likely to be linked to the rapid change in estrogen levels that affects how THC interacts with CB1 receptors in the brain. 

On a related note, it’s worth pointing out that a woman’s tolerance to alcohol seems to increase as well during this time, so it doesn’t seem to be something that’s specific to weed. Overall, marijuana and women is a fascinating topic that needs a lot more research to understand the cannabis and THC effect on women fully.

How does Cannabis Affect Men?

Now, let’s talk about the effects of cannabis on men. First off, do men have a better THC tolerance? The answer, in fact, is no. Overall, women may build a stronger tolerance to THC after repeated use compared to men.

Men are more likely to get the THC effect of munchies than women because THC’s impacts on cognition may be stronger in men than women. Basically, this would imply that THC works with the brain’s cognitive receptors stronger in men. This could also correlate to what we said earlier about a man’s tolerance to weed generally being lower than a woman’s, meaning they may just be more sensitive to THC’s stronger cerebral effects.

Another thing that is important to point out is that the THC effect seems to have a stronger impact on men’s sexual performance than on women. We are still trying to figure out the exact relationship between THC and testosterone, but by and large, men report a more difficult time experiencing arousal while they are high. However, the THC effect does not seem to impact sexual performance once the high wears off, which is good news.

What do You Need to Know About Weed Use for Women and Men?

While there are some clear differences when it comes to how THC affects men compared to women, the bottom line is that none of this information means you need to make changes to how you consume cannabis. These differences are fairly subtle, and they are also inevitable due to how nature works. So, you can continue enjoying your THC while knowing that your experience with it may be surprisingly different from that of the opposite sex.