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.
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