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Is sex better when you're high?

Is sex better when you’re high?

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The overall consensus from science and cannabis users seems to lean that weed can increase sexual pleasure, although results can be affected by gender (Shutterstock) 

Does cannabis lead to better sex? For many consumers, the answer is an enthusiastic yes

Heightened sensations, a relaxed mind, and more intense orgasms are just a few of the reasons that millions of users turn to cannabis when it’s time to get between the sheets. But does the science back this up? 

Does cannabis increase your sex drive? 

Sex is natural. It’s fun, stress-relieving, and a part of life that, by all accounts, we should look forward to. 

But for millions of people, sex is an additional source of stress.  Some 43% of women and 31% of men report trouble in bed, including struggling to reach orgasm and premature ejaculation. Add to that the fact that people are underslept, stressed, and anxious; getting down and dirty is often the last thing on people’s minds. 1

Cannabis can help with that. Not only does the plant lower stress and anxiety levels, people who consume cannabis actually have more sex than people who don’t. 

Take one study that examined over 50,000 men and women. Researchers found that not only did cannabis users have significantly more sex, but in many cases, cannabis improved the sexual experience. 2

How cannabis can help your sex life 

Lower stress levels are great, but “not being stressed” is a low bar for good sex. So, what exactly are cannabis users getting out of sex while high? 

A 2019 study looked at 216 cannabis users and found: 3

  • 58% said cannabis increased their sex drive 
  • 73% reported more satisfying sex 
  • 65% had more intense orgasms 
  • 69% said they could relax more during sex
  • 50% reported being able to focus on the experience and present moment better 

How cannabis can impact women’s sex lives

Cannabis has the potential to be a woman’s best friend in the bedroom. Self-reported studies show a correlation between cannabis use and increased sex drive and ability to orgasm – all good news when you consider the orgasim gap reported between genders, where women tend to orgasim less compared to men in heterosexual encoutners. 4  

A 2019 study surveyed 373 women, half of whom used cannabis and half who did not. Of those who used cannabis: 5

  • 68.5% said their sexual experience was more pleasurable.
  • 60.6% reported increased sex drive.
  • 52.8% had more satisfying orgasms. 
  • They also had a 2.13 higher chance of satisfactory orgasms than those who didn’t use cannabis.

A 2020 study surveyed 452 women, 72% of whom used cannabis more than six times per week. 6

  • Women who reported more frequent cannabis use scored higher on the Female Sexual Function Index.
  • Increased cannabis use was linked with increased desire, arousal levels, orgasms, and overall satisfaction.
  • Women who used more cannabis also reported decreased sexual dysfunction.

How cannabis can impact men’s sex lives 

The relationship between men, cannabis use, and sex is less straightforward than it is for women. 

  • A 2019 study of 41 men found a majority of participants who used cannabis before sex had less anxiety and increased sexual pleasure. 7
  • A 2011 review of studies on men using cannabis in sex found conflicting and contradictory results, with some studies reporting enhanced erectile function and others finding the opposite. 8
  • Scientists also can’t agree on whether cannabis increases or decreases testosterone production, but current research concludes that cannabis use does have an effect on it. 9
  • A 2020 review of existing studies found that cannabis could negatively impact male fertility by lowering sperm count. 

Pros and cons of weed and sex

While the science is still far from definitive, there are a myraid of potential pros and cons to using cannabis to enhance your sex life. 

Potential pros:

  • increased sexual enjoyment
  • better, more satisfying orgasms
  • 50% more chance of achieving orgasm
  • increased sex drive
  • people who smoke cannabis tend to have more sex
  • ability to stay present and focused on sensations 

Potential cons:

  • uncertainty about the effect of THC on testosterone production
  • possibility of erectile dysfunction
  • possibility of lowering sperm count & fertility concerns 

Sex and the endocannabinoid system 

Let’s leave the bedroom talk behind for a moment and get scientific. A major reason why cannabis can enhance sex is the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Every person (and, in fact, every mammal on the planet) has a unique endocannabinoid system. This system is a vast network of cannabinoid receptors located on every organ in the body. It exists because our body produces natural cannabis-like chemicals called endocannabinoids throughout our lives, and the purpose of the ECS is to keep our complex body systems balanced and healthy. 10

The ECS is involved in regulating every key biological function; appetite, sleep, mood, pain regulation, immune health, and of course, sexual function. The ECS was only identified in the 1990s, so research on every aspect, including sex, is still in the early days. There is conflicting research around the role of endocannabinoids like anandamide in sex, but there’s little doubt that the ECS plays a large role in our sex lives. 

THC stimulates the ECS by activating multiple cannabinoid receptors while CBD’s interaction with the ECS is not well understood, so it’s probable that most of the direct benefits of high sex come from THC while CBD has more of an indirect effect.

The best way to combine weed and sex 

You’ve read the research and you’re ready to get it on, but where to start? As with anything cannabis-related, you have options. 

During foreplay 

Smoking. To get the mood right, lower the lights, hit play on your favorite playlist, and roll up. Smoking a joint, blunt, or bong with your partner before taking your clothes off can be helpful to get you both in an enthusiastic, loving state of mind- but mind your dosage. 

Choosing between a sativa and an indica strain is less important than focusing on the terpenes and the effects the strain has. Reach for strains that contain terpenes and cannabinoids that  promote euphoria and energy to put you in an open, receptive state of mind. You can also use strains that relax you, but be careful not to overdo it. There’s a fine line between relaxed and too high to leave the couch. 

Edibles. If you’re planning ahead for a date night that ends between the sheets, edibles are a perfect way to set the mood. Combine the relaxing power of THC with the aphrodisiac powers of chocolate and you’ve got a recipe for a good time.

Edible effects can be variable, so timing can be tricky to master when two people are involved. We recommend taking your edibles together with a meal a couple hours before you’re looking to get it on. Similar to smoking, only take a dose you know you can handle well because overconsumption can quickly backfire in the bedroom.

Infused massage oil. Giving your partner a massage is a surefire way to turn up the heat, and using a CBD or THC infused massage oil adds an extra spark. The infused oil will activate ECS receptors located on the skin, helping your partner relax, stay in the moment, and focus on the sensations of your magic hands. 

Infused bath bombs. While the science behind the effectiveness of CBD bath bombs is limited, users rave about heightened feelings of sensation and relaxation. Add in a few lit candles and rose petals sprinkled on top, and you’ve got one sexy bath time. 

During sex

Infused lubes. THC and CBD prelubes target the ECS receptors in and around your genitals, helping your muscles relax, heightening sensations by increasing blood flow to your most sensitive spots, and even reducing vaginal pain.

Even though we call them lube, these are technically prelubes because they should be used slightly in advance of getting it on (20 – 30 minutes to allow for proper absorption).

And when used properly, cannabinoid infused prelubes can increase the potential for powerful, intense orgasms.  Of course, even then though you are encouraged to apply the lubricant before sex, it can still be used like a traditional lube, keeping in mind oil based lubes can ruin condoms.

Should you smoke weed and have sex? 

The overall consensus from science and cannabis users seems to lean that weed can increase sexual pleasure, although results can be affected by gender. 

For women, incorporating cannabis consumption before sex can lead to higher levels of desire and arousal and more intense orgasms. For men, the answer is less conclusive, but many men still reported a positive impact on sexual experiences from using cannabis.  And remember, anytime you combine substances with sex it is important to discuss consent with you partner prior to consumption.

Sources

  1. Rosen RC. Prevalence and risk factors of sexual dysfunction in men and women. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2000 Jun;2(3):189-95. doi: 10.1007/s11920-996-0006-2. PMID: 11122954.
  2. Sun AJ, Eisenberg ML. Association Between Marijuana Use and Sexual Frequency in the United States: A Population-Based Study. J Sex Med. 2017 Nov;14(11):1342-1347. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.09.005. PMID: 29110804.
  3. Wiebe E, Just A. How Cannabis Alters Sexual Experience: A Survey of Men and Women. J Sex Med. 2019 Nov;16(11):1758-1762. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.07.023. Epub 2019 Aug 22. PMID: 31447385.
  4. Mahar, E.A., Mintz, L.B. & Akers, B.M. Orgasm Equality: Scientific Findings and Societal Implications. Curr Sex Health Rep 12, 24–32 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11930-020-00237-9
  5. Lynn, B. K., López, J. D., Miller, C., Thompson, J., & Campian, E. C. (2019). The Relationship between Marijuana Use Prior to Sex and Sexual Function in Women. Sexual medicine7(2), 192–197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esxm.2019.01.003
  6. Assessment of the Association of Cannabis on Female Sexual Function With the Female Sexual Function Index, Alex M. Kasman, MD, MS, Hriday P. Bhambhvani, BS, Genester Wilson-King, MD Michael L. Eisenberg, MD, July 23, 2020 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esxm.2020.06.009

  7. Natasha Parent, Olivier Ferlatte, M-J Milloy, Danya Fast & Rod Knight (2021) The sexualised use of cannabis among young sexual minority men: “I’m actually enjoying this for the first time”, Culture, Health & Sexuality, 23:7, 883-898, DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2020.1736634
  8. Shamloul R, Bella AJ. Impact of cannabis use on male sexual health. J Sex Med. 2011 Apr;8(4):971-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.02198.x. Epub 2011 Jan 26. PMID: 21269404.
  9. Thistle JE, Graubard BI, Braunlin M, Vesper H, Trabert B, Cook MB, McGlynn KA. Marijuana use and serum testosterone concentrations among U.S. males. Andrology. 2017 Jul;5(4):732-738. doi: 10.1111/andr.12358. Epub 2017 Apr 10. PMID: 28395129; PMCID: PMC5660879.
  10. Silver RJ. The Endocannabinoid System of Animals. Animals (Basel). 2019;9(9):686. Published 2019 Sep 16. doi:10.3390/ani9090686
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