Does psilocybin affect women differently? Here’s what you need to know
Again, the answer is: maybe. We do not yet have serious scientific studies on this matter.
When researching topics related to women’s health, I turn to Natalie Ghukasian, MD, of the Center for Psychedelic Research and Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. I intend to ask her about her work on psilocybin and eating disorders. It was then that she told me she was going to publish a series of cases of menstrual changes and psychedelics. She emails me the details and I am baffled by the fact that researchers are looking into this. In her case series, co-authored with Sasha K. Narayan, MD, Ghukasian interviewed three women, ages 27 to 34, about their cycles after using psychedelics. Two women used psilocybin, so I will focus on their accounts.
The first is a 27-year-old girl with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) who ate approximately 1.5 grams of dried psilocybin mushrooms at age 26. Her period came eight days early. And she noticed worse than usual seizures and mood swings. Later, the woman administered microdoses of psilocybin and noted benefits for functioning in the setting of PMDD symptoms, although she experienced no improvement in symptoms.
Another woman in the case series, now 31, was 28 when she ingested chocolate that contained psilocybin and a component of ayahuasca, another psychedelic. This woman had amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) for five years. She had her period the morning after taking the psychedelics, and had a normal cycle for the next three months before experiencing some irregularities again.
A year later, she was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Disruption of the menstrual cycle is a common symptom of the disease. She re-used classic psychedelics at least a dozen times in medium to high doses, and reported that a third of those times likely caused early menstruation. After being diagnosed with PCOS, she also reported that she took microdoses of magic mushrooms and that she experienced regular menstrual cycles while doing so.
Excerpt from The Psilocybin Guide for Women Jennifer Chesak. Copyright © 2023 Ulysses Press. Reprinted with permission from Ulysses Press. New York, New York. All rights reserved.