Ecstasy takes women 'higher and lower'

By Lunar Loops · Mar 19, 2008 · ·
  1. Lunar Loops
    This article from The Age (Aus):

    Ecstasy takes women 'higher and lower'

    Women who take ecstasy get a more euphoric drug high than men and suffer a much harder comedown in the days after, an Australian review has found.

    Mental health experts say drug findings presented at an international medical conference in Melbourne should warn women that the effects of the party pill will hit them harder.

    "What we've seen from all the evidence is that the highs are higher and more intense for women," said lead researcher Dr Kelly Allott, from the University of Melbourne.

    "And the low in the following days after taking the drug appears to be much lower.

    "So they tend to experience the extremes of the drug experience."

    Australian data shows one in five people in their 20s have tried ecstasy or MDMA, making it the third most popular drug after cannabis and amphetamines.

    Dr Allott reviewed 29 studies from Australia and abroad to collate the latest evidence on how the drug affects men and women differently.

    The findings from three lab studies of ecstasy users overseas suggest that women respond more strongly, with more and stronger hallucinations and euphoric feelings, she said.

    In the days after they have a lower mood then men, with biological studies suggesting females may also be hit harder by the longer-term negative effects of the drug.

    Women were also more at risk of a potentially fatal ecstasy-related coma.
    Men were more likely to die after taking the drug, but toxicology tests showed that was probably because of higher doses and the use of several drugs at once rather than the drug itself.

    Dr Allott, who has presented her research findings at the International Congress on Women's Mental Health, said it was still unclear why women felt the effects differently, but there were a few theories under investigation.

    "It's possible that (the female sex hormone) estrogen increases the sensitivity to the effects of drugs such as MDMA, which act on the serotonin system affecting mood," she said.

    "There may also be gender differences in brain structure, or differences in how men and women metabolise the drug in the body."

    Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, director of the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre in Melbourne, said the findings, published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioural Reviews, should enlighten drug takers and emergency physicians.

    "We know women are more sensitive in the way they are affected by alcohol and prescription drugs, but it's very important we get that same depth of understanding around illicit substances," Prof Kulkarni said.

    Share This Article


  1. saorsa.elegy
    This is really interesting. My bunny seems to be first up, and really hard, last down. I could never understand why that happened to her.
  2. zera
    Interesting. Swim likes ecstasy but doesn't find it anywhere near as flattening as many of his female friends, he thinks Shulgin's description of it being like "the third martini" is actually pretty descriptive for him. In the same token he really suffers no comedown whatsoever and feels pretty much fine the next day, certainly nothing like a hard boozing hangover.

    Researchers recently showed that a primary cause of Autism may be high exposure of the brain to testosterone in the womb. I wonder if in general "left brain" (which describes swim) people, who probably have higher testosterone brains. have less of a response to MDMA.
  3. anony
    Good on em :thumbsup:
  4. Nature Boy
    Doesn't look like a very objective study to me, just far-fetched guesswork. Yeah, it's easy to say a drug will effect a woman more because they are smaller and lighter typically, but what else are they really basing this on? Their assumption that men are more likely to die because of higher doses and combination of other drugs is also laughable because that obviously goes without saying. Is this a scientific study on the effects of MDMA between genders or is it some kind of tarted up pseudo-sociological shot in the dark?
  5. FrankenChrist
    I see no mention of my first most obvious guess: body weight and composition.
  6. KyleM
    Higher estrogen correlates with increased (upregulated) cortical 5-HT2A receptors, MDMA-induced serotonin release requires these receptors for much of its subjective effects. Makes sense to SWIM why women can potentially be more sensitive to MDMA.
  7. Perception Addict
    I totally agree.
  8. Paracelsus
    ^^ This far-fetched guesswork is actually a review of the literature. These are an important element of scientific progress.

    For anyone really interested in this, here is the paper.

  9. Perception Addict
    Apologies for the perhaps hasty judgment.

    This was the part that made me uncomfortable, because when I read it I thought it implied that just men's and women's testimonials were being compared, which would be incredibly subjective and might just point to societal norms concerning the acceptability of admitting to feeling sad, pained, etc.

    However, reading the article and the immense attention paid to tests and biological evidence, I found this much more credible. Thanks for providing the full text, Paracelsus.
To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!