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Does Caffeine Affect Women More Than Men? Health Facts & Gender Differences

woman enjoying cappuccino in a cafe

Caffeine affects everyone differently, for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes caffeine gives you the jitters or makes you anxious. Sometimes it unleashes your superpowers and gives you the fuel you need to finish the race, literal or metaphorical.

It all depends on your tolerance for caffeine which, in turn, depends on several factors including your age, metabolism, frequency of caffeine consumption, and gender, among others.

That’s right, your gender is a huge factor in determining caffeine’s effects on your mind and body. While it comes as no surprise that the male and female bodies differ greatly, it may shock you to find out that coffee does indeed affect men and women differently. There are several scientific studies that suggest both psychological and physiological differences between men and women. We’ve compiled them here for you to review for yourself!

But don’t worry, we’ve got all the big takeaways listed below, too.

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Top 5 Scientific Studies on the Effect of Caffeine on Men and Women

From academic and medical centers around the world, the reach of these studies is far and wide.

1. Gender Differences in Subjective and Physiological Responses to Caffeine and the Role of Steroid Hormones

Published by the National Library of Science, this study by Jennifer L. Temple and Amanda M. Ziegler “suggest[s] that males and females differ in their responses to caffeine and that these differences may be mediated by changes in circulating steroid hormones.”

man drinking coffee at home
Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska, Pexels

2. Caffeine Has a Greater Effect On Men, And Starts Only Ten Minutes After Consumption

Hailing from the University of Barcelona, this study asserts “that caffeine has a greater effect on men than women, and that these effects start just 10 minutes after it is drunk.”

3. Caffeine for the Sustainment of Mental Task Performance: Formulations for Military Operations

This study finds that metabolic processing of caffeine varies based on a variety of factors. Such factors that affect the absorption of caffeine include hormones, both artificial and naturally-occurring.

woman with a cup of coffee in the table
Image Credit: engin akyurt, Unsplash

4. Interactive Effects of Caffeine Consumption and Stressful Circumstances on Components of Stress: Caffeine Makes Men Less, But Women More Effective as Partners Under Stress

While this study initially set out to prove a different hypothesis, instead they found “that women performed better than did men on collaborative tasks under stress, provided caffeine had been consumed”.

5. Cortisol Responses to Mental Stress, Exercise, and Meals Following Caffeine Intake in Men and Women

Cortisol is a naturally occurring steroid hormone secreted by your adrenal glands. It affects “several aspects of your body and mainly helps regulate your body’s response to stress” (Cleveland Clinic).

In this study, researchers found that men and women’s cortisol levels reacted differently to factors such as exercise and eating.

cropped man holding aluminum can of energyy drink
Image Credit: izikMD, Shutterstock

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Caffeine Consumption and Stressful Situations

According to these studies, caffeine consumption affects men and women differently in stressful situations. Specifically, men tend to perform poorly while caffeinated, and women tend to perform better in stressful scenarios.

Studies show that women are more likely to perform well as partners on collaborative tasks in stressful situations, and are able to communicate better than men while caffeinated.

Caffeine and How Long it Takes to Kick In

The speed at which caffeine begins to kick in for individuals varies greatly. One of the aforementioned studies shows that men tend to feel the effects of caffeine much more quickly than women do.

However, there are other factors beyond sex. Hormones and the metabolism of an individual have a lot to do with caffeine absorption and, therefore, the speed at which it is processed and at which its effects are felt.

woman holding a pink cup of coffee
Image Credit: Svitlana Hulko, Shutterstock

Hormones and Your Metabolism

An individual’s hormones and metabolism influence the effects that caffeine has on both women and men. A study on cortisol levels in both men and women finds that after consuming caffeine and undergoing stressful situations, women tend to have higher cortisol levels than men, despite having initiated the study at similar levels.

Additionally, whether a woman is menstruating, pregnant, in menopause, and more will affect their hormones and, thus, their response to caffeine as well. Likewise, men’s hormones, including testosterone levels, will affect their response to caffeine and its effects.

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Women and men experience coffee very differently at a molecular level. However, the health benefits vary from person to person, as well as by one’s sex.

As always, because we aren’t doctors, we recommend checking in with your healthcare professionals before making any decisions about caffeine consumption, and how much of it is right for you.

Featured Image Credit: polinaloves, Shutterstock


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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