Is cannabis good or bad for your sex life? This question has haunted science for some decades now. While consumers routinely argue that the herb is a miracle worker in the sack, much of the scientific evidence on the subject fails to explain exactly why that is. In an attempt to explain the situation, this article highlights the top things to know about how cannabis affects your sex life. The good and the bad, it’s all here.
As one might suspect, there are many positives for introducing cannabis to your sex life. Not only does this herb inspire an upbeat and dreamy euphoria, but it has a knack for stimulating arousal and helping individuals focus on their partners. Here are the top things you should know about cannabis and your sex life:
- Heightened sensory experience
Anyone who has tried cannabis knows that the herb can heighten the senses. This includes an enhanced ability to smell, taste, and see. All three of these things can impact your ability to be present and in the mood. If your partner smells and tastes better, the more likely you are to go a little crazy for their company.
- Enhanced ability to feel pleasure
The active compounds in cannabis have an impact on several pleasure-related neurotransmitters in the brain. These include serotonin and dopamine.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps people feel happiness and good mood. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and reward. The main psychoactive in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), also takes the place of the neurotransmitter anandamide, also known as the “bliss molecule.”
All of these factors contribute to why cannabis makes consumers feel euphoric and downright good. The better your mood, the more likely you are to experience pleasure and enjoy the company of loved ones.
- Increased desire
Cannabis has had a hit or miss relationship with sexual health over the past several decades. Still, 2016 research from Italy and the Czech Republic has crunched the numbers from early research on the topic.
The researchers found that in some cases, up to 70 percent of cannabis consumers report feeling enhanced pleasure and satisfaction from the herb. Additional work sited in the study reported that at least half of consumers reported feeling enhanced desire for their partner.
- Improved mindfulness
Thanks to the herbs ability to heighten the senses and increase pleasure, many consumers report that the right dose of cannabis can help clear the mind of day to day stresses.
In fact, a 2017 study found that low to moderate doses can ease stress and anxiety while high doses may contribute to stress.
So, having trouble getting out of your head and into the mood? Perhaps a little cannabis might help.
- Long history as an aphrodisiac
Cannabis has a long history of use as an aphrodisiac. While different cultures around the globe use the plant differently, the herb was perhaps most frequently consumed in India. In 1842 the Irish physician William O’Shaughnessy reported on the traditional uses of cannabis in India. Reporting,
“[…] the drug is most fascinating in its effects, producing extatic happiness, a persuasion of high rank, a sensation of flying, voracious appetite and intense aphrodisiac desire,” writes O’Shaughnessy.
- Cannabis consumers have more sexual partners
While some may view this as a negative, there’s nothing wrong with having a healthy appetite. 2009 research from the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University found that cannabis consumers were more likely to have more sexual partners.
This rang true for both the men and women in the study, which included 754 cannabis consumers in total. The downside to this is that more sexual partners increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. However, regular exams and safe sex practices can decrease these risks.
- Altered perception of time
Everyone knows that time stands still after a little cannabis.
According to an educational report from the Sociology Department from the University of California at Santa Barbara, the plant’s effects on time perception may be one of the reasons consumers are so sexually satisfied.
A few minutes of quality sexy time may feel like a lot longer, leaving consumers more satisfied with shorter bursts of sex.
- Decreased pain
The statistic is surprising. A 2017 survey published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that 1 in 10 British women reported pain during sex almost every time. Women in their 50s and 60s were more likely to experience pain, along with women aged 16 to 24.
Listening and responding to pain signals when they arise is of the utmost importance. Pain is the body’s way of letting you know that something isn’t right and discomfort should never be the norm. In the case of partnered sexual pleasure, it takes two to address that problem.
Yet, cannabis may be important a useful tool for decreasing pain and enhancing pleasure in those with illness or those hoping to find temporary relief from discomfort. At least, so long as its the sole choice of the person experiencing pain.
Already, cannabis suppositories and infused lubricants exist. These could be useful options for those hoping to ease pain and have meaningful encounters with a partner.
- Cannabis associated with lower rates of domestic violence
The most important component of any sexual relationship is feeling safe and respected by your intimate partner. Amazing, 2014 research has found that married couples who consume cannabis had lower rates of domestic violence than couples that did not.
As reported by Huffington Post, the study was conducted by Yale University, the University of Buffalo, and Rutgers. They followed 634 couples applying for a marriage license in New York.
After their first year of marriage, a whopping 37.4 percent of couples reported acts of domestic violence from the husband.
Domestic violence was considered acts of aggression like choking, slapping, hitting, and beating.
The study also asked participants to report on whether or not they consumed cannabis. Much to their surprise, cannabis consumption was associated with decreased rates of domestic abuse from either partner.
Couples who consumed cannabis regularly were at the lowest risk of domestic violence.
When it comes to cannabis and sexual health, the plant comes with a lot of benefits. However, there are pros and cons to every situation. Here are the more serious things you should know about cannabis and your sex life:
- Every person is different
While some people may find that cannabis improves sexuality, others do not. There are many factors that contribute to whether or not cannabis enhances arousal, including mood prior to smoking, sex drive prior to smoking, and the individual strain consumed.
For example, if you have a low sex drive to begin with, cannabis may suddenly make you in the mood for love. Contrary to Reefer Madness beliefs, the plant does not cause drastic changes in desire.
For example, an informal poll published in Psychology Today found that 67 percent of respondents reported that cannabis enhances sexual desire. 12 percent reported that it had the opposite effect, squandering their mood for love. The remaining 20 percent reported that the herb could have either effect on sex drive, depending on mood, strain, and other factors.
- Dosage matters
One major factor that contributes to the arousing nature of cannabis? The dose. Over consuming the herb can have a negative impact on sex drive, especially if your strain is high in THC.
Cannabis has biphasic effects on the body. That means low doses may not be very effective, but neither are high doses.
When you’re dose is too low, you may not notice a significant difference. Yet, overdoing it may inspire the opposite effects, making you feel too tired or too introspective to give your sexual encounter your full attention.
- Men may orgasm more quickly
The same 2009 study from La Trobe University discovered cannabis may make orgasming difficult for men. While there was no correlated effect in women, men were more likely to report that they orgasmed more slowly, too quickly, or had trouble reaching orgasm at all.
- Weird effects on sperm count
Studies on cannabis and sperm count have reported contradictory responses. Yet, there may be a risk that chronic cannabis consumption has an effect on sperm count in men.
For example, in a 2015 study of 1,215 healthy Danish men, consuming cannabis more than once per week was associated with a 29 percent reduction in sperm count after controlling for other factors.
While some studies have found that cannabis caused drops in testosterone, this study reported that cannabis consumption was actually associated with an increase in the sex hormone.
- Slower egg transport
While cannabis may cause a lower sperm count in men, chronic cannabis consumption may also impact female fertility.
While more research is sorely needed, preclinical evidence suggests that cannabis may slow the transport of the egg to the uterus.
Worst case scenario, public health officials worry that this may increase risks of ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and early pregnancy failure.
However, more research needs to be completed to see if this correlation holds true in humans, not just rodents. Yet, based on this early research, cannabis consumption may not be the best thing for those hoping to become pregnant.
- Release of inhibitions
Like alcohol, cannabis has a way of inspiring consumers to let their guards down and release from their inhibitions.
When it comes to sexual health, some public health officials worry that euphoric intoxication makes it easy to get caught up in risky sexual behaviors that aren’t exactly safe.
Unlike alcohol, however, cannabis does not cause a person to black out or lose control of what is happening around them.
Even with high doses of cannabis, many consumers find that they become too introspective or tired to engage in sexual activity.
So, while cannabis can make it easier to go with the flow, consumers still ultimately have control over their actions and can still make safe decisions.
- Dry mouth
Cannabis compounds can dry out mucous membranes in the body. This is particularly devastating for the salivary glands, which allow you to produce plenty of saliva.
Unsurprisingly, dry mouth can wreak havoc on those hoping to perform oral sex of any type. Having some water handy or maybe sucking on a breath mint beforehand is advised.
- Cotton vagina
There’s a lot of debate out there over whether or not cotton vagina is myth or fact. Cannabis is known to have an effect on mucous membranes, causing some to feel dry.
However, the natural lubrication that is released during sexual activities is produced when blood rushes to the area and causes swelling.
This swelling the triggers glands called the Bartholin’s glands to secrete fluid. How exactly cannabis affects these glands is unknown. Yet, some experts suggest that cannabis smoking may contribute to vaginal dryness in some individuals.