The question of cultural and psychological gender roles has been debated for millenia. The term ‘gender’ itself has evolved over the centuries too. In previous generations, it might have been more common to hear things like ‘men don't cry’ or ‘that's not proper for a lady,’ or more customary to talk about gender-specific ‘character traits’ or even female-driven ‘hysteria’ (a word whose etymology, by the way, is tied to the word Greek word for uterus). Yet more and more people, primarily in the Western societies of Europe and America, have decided not to define themselves according to their biological sex — or by any gender at all, which is all good by us too.
But can CBD affect bodies differently depending on their gender? Are there differences between how CBD affects female and male bodies? Here, we’ll share what we know about CBD’s effects across gender: which organs are influenced and how, which group tends to feel more pain relief with CBD and which one tends to feel more benefits in the bedroom. After this article, you’ll have a better idea of how CBD affects both X and Y chromosomes — no matter which gender you identify with. Let's go!
MALE AND FEMALE HEMP PLANTS?
Just like with human bodies, hemp plants come in male and female varieties too (and hermaphrodites as well!). Our CBD oil is extracted from female hemp plants, which grow large flowering tops until they’re fertilised by pollen from male plants, at which point they produce seeds. Once the seeds are produced, male hemp plants are usually destroyed. (Kind of like what happens with human males, or maybe it’s just us…?)
And just as there are significant differences in structure and function between male and female hemp plants, there are also differences between how hemp plants and CBD affect male versus female bodies, as we will see in a moment. Now we’ll look into the possible reasons behind this distinction, how it’s expressed in humans and in which areas the differences are most pronounced.
MALE AND FEMALE REACTIONS TO DRUGS AND OTHER MEDICATIONS
More research still needs to be done, but many studies already indicate that drug response can differ by gender. In other words, males and females can respond differently to the same drugs. These differences also exist with CBD, as clinical studies in both animals and humans have shown that men react differently to CBD than women.
The biological reasons are varied, ranging from differences in hormones to anatomy. The distinctions are especially pronounced in women who are pregnant or experience PMS. There are also considerable differences in CBD’s effects when it comes to sports, with the keyword being ‘muscle mass.’
A recent conference presented by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) looked at ‘the potential sex (biological) and gender (psychosocial) differences in use and responses to cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids.’ The range of participants was indicative of the wider spectrum of areas where these differences across gender exist: Representatives from psychology, sociology, medicine, education, biology, chemistry, and the pharmaceutical industry shed light on the small (or maybe not-so-small?) differences that these experts see in pain experience, psychological medicines and more across the sexes within their fields.
DOES CBD WORK DIFFERENTLY ON MEN AND WOMEN?
One study came to the conclusion that women tend to feel the effects of cannabis more intensely. However, it must also be said that this particular study made no distinction between THC and CBD, and that most of the negative effects experienced in this study — palpitations, feelings of anxiety, etc. — were attributed to the intoxication that tends to result from consuming THC, not from CBD.
This study on pain concluded that cannabis in general, and CBD in particular, tended to be better at relieving pain in men. Be that as it may, it should be added that in the case of both pain and stress, as well as life experiences such as parenting, the research on gender differences is still in its infancy. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough studies that specialise in gender differences between the sexes, nor are there enough studies that focus on women in general, in order to make any broader conclusions.
CBD AND SEX — IN MEN AND WOMEN
As mentioned in our article on ‘CBD and Sex’, CBD can have a fundamentally positive effect on sex, be it through reducing stress, improving blood circulation, reducing pain or creating generally relaxing vibes. Yet keep in mind that many of these findings come from testimonials and surveys rather than traditional research studies.
According to one survey, women who use cannabis tend to experience more sexual satisfaction. Sadly, it is not clear what role CBD plays here, either via CBD oil or other products, versus what role other active ingredients might play too. In men, the impact on sex isn’t yet clear. While there have been surveys indicating that men who use cannabis experience sexual enjoyment, there are also reports of erectile dysfunction related to cannabis (although one study seemed to indicate that cannabis could, in fact, stimulate erectile receptors).
What’s most important about CBD — no matter your sex — is dosage. And, of course, this has everything to do with whether you’ve only just started trying CBD or if you have a lot of experience.
CBD AND ANATOMiCAL DIFFERENCES — IN MEN AND WOMEN
It’s worth noting that some gender differences are tied to organs present in either female only or male bodies, so CBD products — such as CBD oil or hemp capsules — should be adapted to their specific needs. Such is the case with one of the most common issues affecting women: PMS or premenstrual syndrome, which we talk more about here in this separate article. Other conditions that only affect female bodies include pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause (although there are researchers who claim men can experience menopause too).
Sad to say that the state of research on these issues and the question of whether or not CBD can affect the causes or at least reduce the symptoms of these conditions is still very much in its infancy. However, there are early indications that CBD can reduce stress, nervousness and anxiety, the psychological symptoms that typically accompany them. And they could possibly affect physiological symptoms too, as CBD can be used as an analgesic to relieve pain.
Men tend to do more intense physical labor than women, be it in construction work, in combat or in high-contact and professional sports (though this is slowly evolving too!). Expectations in the bedroom are also high among men (hello, Viagra...) and elderly men are at a higher risk than elderly women of suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart attacks, as well as problems with their prostate. Men generally also tend to live more unhealthy lifestyles compared to women, relying more heavily on cigarettes, alcohol — and way too much coffee.
Long story short, CBD consumption must also be adapted to the specific issues that affect male and female bodies differently.
DO MEN AND WOMEN USE CBD DIFFERENTLY?
A study by the renowned Columbia University shows that women tend to have a higher awareness of the dangers presented by cannabis use. It bears mentioning here that CBD is generally safe (it’s considered to be ‘generally well tolerated, with a good safety profile’ according to the World Health Organization) and that any negative side effects tend to result from cannabis with illegal amounts of the psychotropic cannabinoid THC. That said, cannabis products containing only CBD are available legally in many parts of the world and are not intoxicating.
Another study suggested that women tend to use CBD and cannabis less than men, but when they do, they might be more likely to become addicted — but again, this study looked at cannabis with THC and did not differentiate between CBD. Results of a survey in Canada showed that more men tend to smoke and vape cannabis than women, yet more women tend to consume cannabis via ingestibles and drinks or other products (such as CBD oil, CBD tablets or spray) than men.
A big CAVEAT here: Some researchers found that women tended to report lower levels of support from physicians for medical cannabis use than men. This implies that different rates of prescription by physicians among men versus women could also be a factor affecting the different rates of consumption across these two sexes.
IS IT ALL UP IN THE AIR?
As the German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht once wrote ‘We stand disappointed and look concerned // Close the curtain and all questions unanswered.’
While one can say that there might very well be differences in CBD consumption rates and in CBD’s effects between males and females, it’s hard to single out each of these differences given the range of biological and psychological effects, as well as social effects (like that doctors might prescribe less CBD to women than to men). Specifically, there seem to be significant differences between the sexes especially when it comes to sleep problems, sex and pain relief. In addition, there are also conditions like PMS in women and erectile dysfunction in men, that are limited to one sex. And, of course, old age plays a major role in addition to these factors too.
Yet a lot more research needs to be done in order to determine clear answers to all of our questions on CBD. Most importantly, there need to be more female subjects to get a better understanding of how CBD affects women and whether or not it’s statistically significant from how CBD affects men — or any other gender for that matter. Also, there are many sub-categories (such as age, socio-economic background, urban versus rural) that lack recognition in studies, so we’ve still got a long way to go.