Sex & Cannabis Introduction
Sexual experiences with a trusted partner can enhance our lives in many ways. But for some, sex is challenging. Intimate issues such as lack of sex drive, low body confidence, inability to orgasm, sexual anxiety, and pain are fairly common, but not often discussed due to their sensitive nature. A wave of new and exciting research on the efficacy of cannabis in enhancing sexual experiences is shedding light on how plant medicine could offer hope for both men and women who struggle with sexual pleasure. In this article, we’ll unpack the latest research and discuss best practices for experimenting with cannabis in the bedroom.
The History of Cannabis and Sex Research
The conversation about cannabis’ effects on sexual experience is not a new one. In 1971, an essay published by lifelong cannabis proponent Carl Sagan stated that cannabis “enhances the enjoyment of sex” and “gives exquisite sensitivity.” While making such a statement publicly was illuminating, Sagan’s findings were based solely on anecdotal evidence from longtime cannabis users, making the validity of his claims questionable. Since the 1970s, research on cannabis has been historically suppressed due to controversy around its legality. Times are changing though; in recent years the widespread proliferation of medical cannabis and the increasing acceptance of recreational cannabis has changed the scientific community’s perspective on this powerful plant. Research on the many ways cannabis can impact human health and happiness is happening at a record pace, including several studies on cannabis and sexual satisfaction.
Several recent survey-based studies conducted with both regular cannabis users and non-cannabis users have yielded fascinating results. A study published by Saint Louis University School of Medicine in 2019 surveyed 373 female patients at an obstetrics and gynecology clinic about their experiences with cannabis and sex. Over a third (34%) of the women surveyed reported cannabis use before sexual activity, with the majority of that cohort citing improved orgasms, increases in libido, and decreases in pain after cannabis use. New research from The Journal of Sexual Medicine via an online survey of over 200 male and female cannabis users spells promising outcomes as well, with 60% of participants stating an increased sex drive after cannabis use, and 74% reporting increases in sexual satisfaction. Finally, a 2019 survey conducted by East Carolina University pooled cannabis users nationwide and found that cannabis use before sex increased sexual functioning and satisfaction, resulting in a more intense orgasm and higher masturbation pleasure.
Variation Along the Gender Spectrum
As long as cannabis is dosed correctly, its efficacy in enhancing sexual experiences for individuals along the gender spectrum is evident. To better understand the underlying mechanisms that inform this fact, let’s look at how cannabis can impact and enhance bodily sensations and sexual function. Research is increasingly showing that the body’s endocannabinoid system plays a powerful role in female sexual function. The cannabinoid receptor CB1 exists in the serotonergic neurons responsible for secreting serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is vitally important to female sexual functioning, and CB1 is activated by the consumption of cannabis. This is one possible explanation why cannabis can meaningfully enhance sex for those who identify as female. We also know that in low doses, THC and CBD can both release positive endorphins in the body and reduce anxiety. For individuals with a vagina, this can increase vaginal blood flow and lubrication, leading to the expansion of vaginal tissue. These are the right conditions for a good time in the bedroom. The same is true of individuals with a penis; low dose THC and CBD will lower performance anxiety while stimulating and relaxing the body, creating ideal conditions for arousal and endurance. Another potential reason cannabis can enhance sexual experiences is that THC alters time perception in all individuals, creating the appropriate conditions to extend the sensations of pleasure, stimulation, and arousal.
Dosage is Key
By now your confidence in cannabis’ ability to enhance sexual experiences is likely high, but it is essential to understand that cannabis in the wrong dose can critically sabotage sexual function. Cannabis (and its accompanying cannabinoids THC and CBD) in a high dose will greatly compromise the conditions for good sex by leading to lethargy, low desire, and for those who have a penis, an inability to become sufficiently aroused. “High dose” is relative to your THC and CBD tolerance, and understanding your threshold dose is key to successfully using cannabis for sexual enhancement.
See our article microdosing with cannabis for more information on how to microdose and determine your threshold dose.
Consent is King
All sexual acts must be thoroughly consented to by both parties, before AND during sex. Because cannabis can have psychoactive effects that mildly alter awareness, coordination, and reaction time, it is essential that both participants practice excellent communication throughout their sexual experience together when using cannabis. In light of this fact, it is best to experiment with cannabis in this manner exclusively with a trusted sexual partner. Never experiment with cannabis for sexual enhancement with someone you don’t know, as the potential for bad outcomes isn’t worth the potential benefit. Consent is sexy, and it doesn’t have to be awkward. Talk openly, check-in with each other, and have a great time.
Ways to Partake Before the Act
Current research doesn’t point with a specificity to which cannabis delivery method leads to optimal sexual enhancement. For regular cannabis users, consume cannabis in whatever form works best for your body. Individuals who are new to cannabis use should start with a very low dose of cannabis in the form that is most reliably stimulating to them. For newbies, topical CBD/THC lubes are a great place to begin, especially when used alone before trying with a partner. This will allow you to anticipate the bodily sensations that will arise from the use of cannabis during sex, priming you to make the most of the enhanced experience later. Cannabis in the form of a CBD or THC tincture is also an excellent delivery method for newer users, as dosage by milligrams is made easy by the dropper cap. Edibles have more of a delayed effect, making them a good option for those who are experienced with this form of cannabis but less desirable for new cannabis consumers. Consciously try different forms of cannabis and remember that having an open, relaxed mind is essential to feeling sexy and stimulated.
Embrace the Journey
It is important to state that while cannabis can enhance sex in the multitude of ways outlined in this article, it cannot treat psychological or medical conditions that impair sexual function. If you are experiencing significant sexual impairments, consult a qualified doctor who can assess your condition and address underlying issues.
Creating a fulfilling and fun sex life takes time, attention, and awareness. Embrace the journey of connecting with and joyfully inhabiting your body. It will pay off in innumerable ways for you and your partner.