December 3, 2021

December 2, 2021

Can Psychedelics Promote Women's Brain Health?

December 2 is Women’s Brain Health Day. Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and depression disproportionately affect women. Here are some statistics and programs focused on promoting knowledge and solutions for women’s brain health.

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For a long time, sex and gender were afterthoughts when it came to research into brain health conditions, putting the focus largely on men’s brain health. But sex and gender intersectionality is crucial in this research, especially when brain health conditions like dementia, stroke, and depression, occur much more frequently in women than in men.

In fact, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than 400,000 Canadians aged 65 and older are living with dementia. Two-thirds of this population are women.

While still a young venture, Women’s Brain Health Day (announced in 2019) is an important step in emphasizing the importance of brain health research for women.

The Prevalence of Women’s Brain Health Issues

To start, take a look at these stats on women’s brain health, according to Stand Alone:

  • 70% of people with Alzheimer’s disease are women
  • Women who face early memory changes decline twice as fast as men
  • Women suffer from depression, stress, and anxiety twice as much as men
  • Women take longer and have more severe symptoms from concussions
  • Women are four times more like to have multiple sclerosis
  • Women are more likely to die or have worse outcomes from stroke than men

Despite these statistics, the majority of research into these disorders continues to focus on men.

Initiatives Focused on Women’s Brain Health

It’s initiatives like Women’s Brain Health Day, Stand Ahead, and MINDCURE’s Desire Project that are bringing women’s brain and sexual health to the forefront.

Stand Ahead

Stand Ahead is a challenge that aims to change the way people view dementia. It involves doing or asking someone to do a headstand for you to stand up against research bias. Donating to this cause helps make a statement and stand ahead for women’s brain health. 

The Connection Between Women’s Sexual & Mental Health

For a long time, sexual desire was believed to have been regulated solely by sex hormones. Women that didn’t have sexual desire were made to feel inadequate and left in a state of distress. Researchers have since discovered that sexual desire in women is also heavily regulated by neurotransmitters, meaning sexual desire is heavily impacted by your brain health as well. In studying the relationship between sexual health and brain chemistry, researchers found that sexual response is driven in part by dopamine and serotonin, chemicals produced in the brain. 

Studies like this have helped to bring more attention to women’s mental and sexual health, highlighting disorders like female Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (fHSDD). fHSDD is  a common female sexual disorder characterized by persistent low sexual desire and emotional distress not attributable to an existing medical condition or relationship issue. In the US alone, HSDD affects an estimated 9.5 million premenopausal women, all reporting that their low desire results in a state of distress.

At MINDCURE, we believe that mental health and sex are intimately tied, contributing to overall well-being and female sexual desire being rooted in the mind. Sex prompts the release of endorphins that influence mood, promote emotional intimacy, and ultimately impact certain relationships.

The Desire Project’s goal is to improve the lives of women living with FHSDD by focusing on the root cause of sexual desire issues using MDMA and psychotherapy.  

Written by

Hayley Kirsh