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What is Ecstasy (MDMA)?

Ecstasy, also called MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), is a synthetic, illegal drug that has characteristics of both stimulants and hallucinogens. It is typically produced in capsule or tablet form and is usually taken by mouth, although health care providers have documented cases in which people injected or snorted the drug. Researchers have found that women may experience more intense psychoactive effects of Ecstasy than men. Ecstasy interferes with learning and memory and may produce damaging changes in brain structures and chemistry. It increases heart rate and blood pressure and can disable the body's ability to regulate its own temperature.

There is a large body of evidence that links heavy and prolonged MDMA use to confusion, depression, sleep problems, persistent elevation of anxiety and aggressive/impulsive behavior. Because of its stimulant properties, when used in club or dance settings, it enables users to dance vigorously for extended periods but can also lead to severe rises in body temperature (hyperthermia), as well as dehydration, hypertension and even heart or kidney failure in susceptible people.

This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.