Drugs and drugs: very different effects depending on the sex

It seems fairly intuitive to think that drugs don’t affect men as well as women, but many of the studies done with drugs (before they are marketed) are not conducted in women, arguing that menstrual cycles can affect study results.

Same drugs but different effects depending on gender

Another more concrete example is that of pregnant women. Pregnant women do not participate in such trials, for obvious reasons, but it leads to long-term problems, such as not being aware of the effects of these substances during pregnancy. So a woman with a bipolar disorderAs it has been found, you need a higher dose of the medicine Lamictal for control your depression during pregnancy.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) withdrew 8 out of 10 drugs on the market because they pose more health risks to women than men.

In addition, the probability of suffering Side effects is in the women between a 50 and 75 percent more as for men.

Next, we mention some types of drugs and the different effects they can cause depending on the gender.

pain relievers

  • Opioid pain relievers are more effective in women. It is believed to be a consequence of the estrogen fluctuations, Like these they affect pain sensitivity.
  • the overdose analgesics they are more common in men than in women.
  • AT women it proves more difficult to “take off” of its consumption.
  • In the event of an attack on a state of dependence, the women are more likely to relapseBecause during certain periods of the menstrual cycle, blood sugar drops, and these in turn are linked to the ability to control yourself.


  • Women respond better to SSRI antidepressants (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor).
  • Men, on the other hand, seem they get more benefit from tricyclic antidepressants.
  • The fact that some antidepressants have best effects on women it is due to the fact that his blood has lower binding capacityThus, their hemoproteins absorb less foreign substances.
  • The female stomach is less acidic than the male, this causes the absorption of SSRIs, it seems, 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 on to antidepressants for longer periods of time.


  • Man breaks down Zolpidem more easily (A type of hypnotic) and other sleep inducers.
  • wifeOn the contrary, it retains more of these drugs in the liver, which makes it capable of affect to a greater extent during the day.


  • The fact that the women having a less acidic stomach than humans can help them notice the effects of anxiolytics more strongly, Increase the levels of toxicity of doses.
  • as the women filter medications more slowly, they should leave more time between doses, Especially with regard to the consumption of benzodiazepines (one of the most common anxiolytics).
  • As with antidepressants, fat facilitates longer retention in the body of anxiolytics, increasing the risk of suffering side effects and toxicity at lower doses.


  • The information available on the effects of antipsychotics by gender is mainly based on first generation antipsychotics, such as haloperidol (A type of antipsychotic widely used in the late 20th century). These have been shown to be more effective in women than in men. Men need higher doses to get the same results.


  • CYP3A4 hepatic envelope [1], Which is particularly active in the women, Makes these drugs less effective than in men.


Despite the lack of studies in this regard (in fact, these results are among the few that exist), it is a marginalized field of study still extremely importantBecause, given the differences between the sexes, the drugs might be better suited to each gender, thus avoiding unnecessary risks. For that, the FDA has announced that it will step up efforts to account for these differences in future clinical trials.

Author’s Notes:

[1] The CYP3A4 envelope is responsible for metabolizing xenobiotic compounds in the body, or in other words, is responsible for processing compounds that do not occur naturally in the human body, like most drugs.

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