Researchers from the Center for Brain-Health at the University of Texas at Dallas found that women who regularly consume cannabis experience more intense cravings than their male counterparts. The study, “Sex-related differences in subjective, but not neural, cue-elicited craving response in heavy cannabis users” was published last month in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal.
The study was conducted on 54 women and 58 men who had used cannabis at least 5,000 times. They were given a “piece of cannabis equipment to hold” – likely a pipe or bong – and asked to rate their urge to use cannabis on a scale of 1 to 10. Women rated their cravings as 5.5 while men rated their cravings at 4.6.
Moreover, researchers found that when the female participants were categorized by their self-reported menstrual cycle phase, those in the phase – when estrogen levels increase – showed a significantly higher craving response compared to male users. However, previous studies have found no correlation between cannabis use and menstrual cycle phases, and the authors note that more research is required to clarify the reason behind this difference in cravings.
Changes in participants’ brain activity were also measured but no sex-related differences were recorded.
A study out of Italy in 2018 found that men are more likely to try cannabis and other drugs because their hormones stimulate risky behavior. A 2017 survey of U.S. adults by Statista found that 13 percent of American men used cannabis currently, compared to 7 percent of women.
The Texas researchers concluded that accounting for the differences in how men and women use and react to cannabis “will increase efficacy of treatments through personalized approaches.”