Drugs That Work Differently in Women and Men

Medically reviewed by | By

Update Date 09/12/2019 . 2 mins read
Share now

To our surprise, research suggests that gender has a huge influence on how medication is metabolized. It may decide the medication’s potency, efficacy, and side effects.

How the female biology affects drug action

Besides body weight, other biological factors associated with the female gender may affect how the body metabolizes certain drugs. One of which is the extra body fat. Since women have more body fat than men, fat-soluble medications will be distributed differently in women. Fat-soluble drugs include  antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and antipsychotics.

Although scientists are not sure why, it’s observed that certain antidepressants and antipsychotics are more effective in women. However, they still have to suffer some side effects from antidepressants such as decreased sex drive. While men can use Viagra to deal with this side effect, women don’t have any choice.

Another difference lies in the digestive process of women. Women generally produce less gastric acid than men do. As a result, they digest food much slower. Therefore, when they use medications that require an acidic environment to be absorbed (antifungal ketoconazole, for example), they receive fewer positive effects. Also, when women need to use a drug that needs an empty stomach for absorption, they have to wait for a longer period of time after their last meal.

How estrogen affects drug action

Drug action is also affected by hormones. During menstruation and menopause, a woman’s hormone levels fluctuate. Estrogen may somehow interfere with the way the liver processes medication. If the liver is not able to do its job efficiently, the concentration of a drug in the blood rises even if the drug was taken in the safe dosage. The same applies to medications filtered by the kidneys. Research shows that the female body gets rid of the cancer drug methotrexate 13 to 17% slower than the male body.

Heart medications and women

Drugs used to treat heart conditions work differently in women as well. Low-dose aspirin is not helpful to reduce the risk of heart attack in women due to a greater chance of bleeding. Also, women who use beta-blockers experience a greater risk of re-hospitalization. Women are recommended to take smaller doses of the blood thinner warfarin. Particularly, according to the American Family Physician, a woman needs 2.5 to 4.5 mg less warfarin than a man in a week.

Pain medication and sleep aids

Painkillers have different side effects in different genders. A 2002 study found a correlation between the use of acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications in women and an elevated risk of high blood pressure. Those who took NSAIDs for more than 22 days a month suffered a 86% increased risk of hypertension while those who took acetaminophen were twice likely to have hypertension.

Women also have difficulty excreting sleep aids. It’s reported that women have a hard time driving after taking sleep drugs the previous day due to slow metabolism. In 2013, the FDA advised that women should only take half the dose of the sleep drug Ambien that men usually take.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Read also:

Was this article helpful for you ?
happy unhappy"
Sources

You might also like

Cosmetic Surgery Self-Assessment

Cosmetic surgery is the solution for people who are not happy with their appearances. Most people are more confident and happier after cosmetic surgery.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel
Written by Phuong Tran
Healthy Living, Beauty 05/07/2017 . 2 mins read

How to Handle Negative Criticism (Part 2)

If you have spent a good amount of time thinking about the criticism and still disagree with it, perhaps you would be better off doing things your way.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel
Written by Phuong Tran
Mental Health, Healthy Living 26/06/2017 . 2 mins read

Health Benefits Of Soursop

Soursop fruits tastes like a mixture of strawberry and pineapple, with some addition citrus notes and sweetness. Soursop provides multiple health benefits.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel
Written by Phuong Tran
Nutrition, Healthy Living 24/06/2017 . 2 mins read

Gender Dysphoria: What Is It? Myth Or Fact?

Gender dysphoria or “transgender” is a term used to describe a person who does not identify with the gender he or she was born with.

Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel
Written by Phuong Tran
Mental Health, Healthy Living 24/06/2017 . 2 mins read

Recommended for you

insurance migraine

5 Ways to Get Better Insurance Coverage for Migraines

Medically reviewed by Dr. Joseph Tan
Written by Aaron Joseph Sta Maria
Published on 09/04/2020 . 5 mins read
migraine

5 Things to Include in Your Migraine Checklist for a Doctor’s Appointment

Medically reviewed by Dr. Joseph Tan
Written by Aaron Joseph Sta Maria
Published on 07/04/2020 . 3 mins read
kemaluan

Painless Genital Ulcer? Don’t Ignore It!

Medically reviewed by Panel Perubatan Hello Doktor
Written by Ahmad Wazir Aiman Mohd Abdul Wahab
Published on 27/02/2019 . 2 mins read
12 foods and drinks that you should eat for a fatty liver

12 foods and drinks that you should eat for a fatty liver

Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel
Written by Phuong Tran
Published on 17/07/2017 . 2 mins read