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Drugs and drugs: very different effects according to sex

Drugs and drugs: very different effects according to sex

May 26, 2024

It seems quite intuitive to think that drugs do not affect men as well as women, but many of the studies carried out with drugs (before launching them on the market) are not carried out on women, arguing that menstrual cycles can affect the results of studies.

Same drugs but different effects according to sex

Another more concrete example is that of pregnant women. Pregnant women do not participate in trials of this type, for obvious reasons, but this leads to some long-term problems, such as ignorance of the effects of these substances during the pregnancy period. So, a woman with a Bipolar disorder , as has been verified, you need a higher dose of the Lamictal drug to control your depression During pregnancy.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) withdrew 8 out of 10 drugs on the market because they entailed greater health risks for women than for men .

In addition, the probability of suffering side effects is in the women between a 50 and a higher 75 percent with respect to men.

Next, we proceed to mention some types of medications and the different effects that may arise according to sex.


  • Opioid analgesics are more effective in women . It is believed that it is a consequence of Estrogen fluctuations , since these affect pain sensitivity .
  • The overdose of analgesics they are more frequent in men than in women.
  • At women they find it harder to "disengage" of your consumption.
  • In the case of reaching a state of addiction, the women are more likely to relapse , because during some periods of the menstrual cycle blood glucose levels fall, and these in turn are related to the ability to self-control.


  • Women respond better to SSRI antidepressants (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).
  • Men, on the other hand, it seems that get more benefits from tricyclic antidepressants .
  • The fact that certain antidepressants occur better effects on women it's because their blood has lower fixing capacity , so that their hemoproteins absorb less foreign substances.
  • The female stomach is less acidic that the masculine one, this causes that the SSRIs are absorbed, apparently, more quickly, thus accentuating its toxicity .
  • Another important point is that the highest percentage of fat in women It also increases your body's ability to hold antidepressants for longer periods .


  • Man breaks down Zolpidem more easily (a type of hypnotic) and other sleep inducers.
  • The woman , on the contrary, retains more of these drugs in the liver, which makes it possible for affect you to a greater extent throughout the day .


  • The fact that the woman have a less acidic stomach than men can contribute to that they notice the effects of anxiolytics with more force , increasing the levels of toxicity of the doses.
  • As the women they filter the drugs more slowly, they should leave more time between doses , especially regarding the consumption of benzodiazepines (one of the most common anxiolytics).
  • As with antidepressants, fat facilitates retention for longer in the body of anxiolytics, increasing the risk of suffering Side effects and toxicity in lower doses .


  • The information that is available about the effects of antipsychotics according to sex has been based mainly on the first generation, as the haloperidol (a type of antipsychotic widely used in the late twentieth century). These have been shown to be more effective in women than in men. Men need higher doses to get the same results .


  • The liver enzyme CYP3A4 [1], which is especially active in women , makes these drugs are less effective than men .


Despite the lack of studies in this regard, (in fact, these results are among the few that exist), this is a field of study marginalized although extremely important , since, taking into account sex differences, drugs could be better adapted to each gender, avoiding unnecessary risks. Thus, the FDA announced that it will intensify its effort to take into account these types of differences in the upcoming clinical trials .

Author's notes:

[1] The above CYP3A4 is responsible for metabolizing xenobiotic compounds in the body, or in other words, is responsible for processing compounds that do not appear in the human body naturally, as for example, most drugs.

Sex & Drugs (May 2024).

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