Last Updated on April 15, 2022 by
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Men and women frequently have different experiences in relation to medicines and drugs. Sometimes the differences are seen in adverse effects or a drug having a greater effect. These differences can be related to the physiological differences between men and women, as well as other gender-specific differences.
In many cases, more men are enrolled in drug trials than women.1 There are many reasons behind this gender bias. One frequent major setback caused by this issue is that the results aren’t differentiated between what men and women experience separately. This can put either gender at a disadvantage when trying to understand the scope of adverse effects, especially if they’re experiencing symptoms outside of the norm.
While gender bias is not a new concern, it’s becoming increasingly important that study and trial results separate their findings by the participants’ gender. Having more detailed data and metrics will better serve the community overall. Additionally, it may also illuminate the greater issue of overmedication.
Do Men and Women Metabolize Differently?
People, in general, metabolize differently depending on a variety of factors, including age.2 Major physiological changes occur at different stages of our lives, particularly puberty and menopause. When these changes take place in our bodies, our metabolisms slow down or speed up accordingly.
There also appear to be differences between the metabolisms of men and women, and it is suggested that this varies based on the skeletal muscle between each gender.3 In women, more fats are burned post-mealtime and during high-energy activities, but they burn fewer carbohydrates. This suggests that women have a tendency toward a more flexible metabolism, using energy in different ways when more or less is available.
Much of this appears to be affected by the more basic and evolutionary specific needs of the body for reproductive purposes. For women, lactation and gestation require an extreme amount of energy. Because of this, the body is prepared to create higher stores of fats when the reproductive process requires a higher amount of energy. While the research itself isn’t extensive in these areas, much of what is available points to a clear difference in metabolic rates between men and women.
Alcohol affects men and women differently, too. Studies have suggested that women are more susceptible than men to the toxic effects of ethanol.4 Women typically experience the results of drinking much quicker than men. This is due to women having lower levels of the enzyme that breaks down the alcohol. Women also often experience greater difficulty gaining treatment and the support of those around them, as fewer people will recognize that an issue exists. While more men experience substance abuse issues, women face a greater stigma and thus have a more difficult time seeking treatment. These factors contribute to a more dangerous experience.