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Is cannabis an aphrodisiac?

Is cannabis an aphrodisiac?

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When it comes to sparking sexual desire and increasing arousal, cannabis takes pride of place on many nightstands. The plant has long been celebrated as an aphrodisiac; historical records document its use as an erotic stimulant as far back as 1000CE. 1

Weed is known to promote relaxation, easing mental blocks such as self-consciousness, anxiety, and stress that can inhibit pleasure. Like dark chocolate, another well-known aphrodisiac, cannabis can also enhance mood and release good feelings, contributing to an elevated sexual experience. Cannabinoids like THC can stimulate the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in regulating sexual function.

By understanding the diverse ways cannabis can act as an aphrodisiac, you can harness its pleasure-boosting potential in fun and creative ways that elevate your sex life.

Common cannabinoids in cannabis
Common cannabinoids in cannabis

Combining sex and cannabis

If you’re curious about using cannabis to enhance your experience between the sheets, there are diverse ways to combine weed and sex.

Many choose to use cannabis before sex to help set the mood and create open and relaxed vibes. The simple act of sharing a joint with your partner may fast-track intimacy and induce a high in as little as ten minutes. 

If you’re looking for a slower, more erotic way to work weed into partner sex, cannabis-infused massage oil can deliver feel-good cannabinoids via receptors in the skin. Sensual touch also helps to create an ambiance that promotes amorous feelings. Similarly, soaking in a bath infused with a cannabis bath bomb can also lift libido, thanks to the combined sensuality of weed, warm water, and fragrance. 

If you’re combining cannabis and sex, be mindful of dosage. Cannabis is a biphasic compound, so it can have opposing actions at different doses. In other words, less is often more. Too much cannabis, and you might find yourself asleep on the couch or freaking out with a bout of paranoia– rather than lost in the throes of passion.

How cannabis can be used as an aphrodisiac

Aphrodisiacs can work on multiple levels: they can increase libido, enhance sexual satisfaction, and even help to treat sexual dysfunction. 2 The same may be true of cannabis. 

So can cannabis make you horny? When used as an aphrodisiac, cannabis can work its magic in various ways. However, to enjoy optimal results, it’s vital to opt for aphrodisiac strains that contain favorable ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes. While the science is still inexact, it’s best for new users to start with Type II and Type III cannabis to stay focused while turning up the heat in the bedroom. Once comfortable with THC, plenty of people prefer Type I cannabis for sex due to its powerful effects. 

Here’s how you can harness cannabis for a more pleasurable and satisfying sexual encounter.

Setting the mood

Partner sex is an intimate act that can be synonymous with vulnerability. However, cultivating an atmosphere that promotes connection, a sense of ease, and openness can help to loosen inhibition and enhance enjoyment. 

According to a 2019 survey, 69.8% of respondents reported cannabis helped them relax more during sex, and 50.5% found that they were better able to focus. 3

Some data also supports the idea that cannabis can promote loving feelings and connection with others. 4

Shared activity

Cannabis carries an inherent element of sociability. Throughout history, cannabis has been used to support social interaction. It makes sense then, that sharing a joint, a brownie, or a bong with a lover can promote a sense of connection and intimacy. Not only is there connectedness in the act of consuming weed, but also in the shared experience that unfolds and the high that follows.

Enhanced sensory perception

Altered sensory perception has long been acknowledged as an effect of cannabis use. 5 Colors appear more lucid, music sounds more meaningful, and sensations feel heightened. Delta-9 THC activates the brain’s reward system to release dopamine levels higher than usually observed in response to natural stimuli. 6

Dopamine plays a critical role in our mood, how we experience pleasure, and feeling aroused before sex. 7

When extra dopamine is circulating in the brain, sex can shift up a gear and feel mindblowingly good. In the 2019 survey mentioned above, 74.3% of participants found that cannabis increased their sensitivity to touch, while 65.7% found their orgasms were more intense after using weed.

Priming with pre-lube

The pelvic region is packed with cannabinoid receptors. THC-infused lube may increase blood flow to the genitals, enhance sensation, help to relax the muscles, stimulate libido and reduce pain during intercourse. 

For women, the vagina is made of mucosal membranes, which means there could be some absorption of the cannabinoids into your bloodstream, but to what extent is unclear. While cannabis-infused lubes are growing in popularity and are easy to purchase online, you can also make your own natural and nourishing version at home.

Cannabis, THC and libido

Desire is a crucial ingredient for good sex. Research into marijuana and libido suggests that many consumers, particularly women, turn to cannabis to help boost sex drive. Not only does cannabis appear to increase sex drive, but it can also help with pain during sex or the inability to orgasm, which can lower libido. 

The aforementioned 2019 survey also reported that 58.9% found that cannabis (containing THC) increased their desire for sex. But there’s also evidence that cannabinoids such as THC may also affect men and women in distinct ways when it comes to libido.

A 2019 survey of 373 women in a gynecology practice found that 60.6% of women noted a lift in their sex drive when they used cannabis before sex. 8

What’s more, the women who reported using weed before sex had 2.13 times higher odds of satisfactory orgasm than women who reported no weed before sex. 68.5% of the women who had tried cannabis before sex shared that the overall sexual experience was more pleasurable. Other research echoes similar findings, reporting that women who consume cannabis before sex are more likely to have more than one orgasm per sexual encounter.

The effects of weed on libido are somewhat more ambiguous for men. In a 2019 review that analyzed 91 studies, cannabis seemed to enhance subjective sexual experience. However, it also potentially contributed to erectile dysfunction, depending on dose. 9

This is because too much THC may equate to feeling too relaxed, making it hard to maintain an erection. While some of the studies reviewed reported that cannabis users had increased sex drive, others found that cannabis use inhibited male orgasm. 

Cannabis and masturbation

The body’s endocannabinoid system appears to play a fundamental role in self-pleasure. One study reported that individuals who masturbated until they reached orgasm experienced significantly higher levels of 2-AG (2-arachidonoylglycerol) in their bloodstream. 10

2-AG is one of the primary endogenous cannabinoids produced by the body. 

Similar to 2-AG, cannabinoids in cannabis may also help promote pleasure when you’re flying solo. Research suggests that using cannabis before masturbating leads to a more pleasurable experience for both men and women. 

For example, in a 2019 doctoral study, 76.4% of participants reported that they used cannabis before they masturbate, and of these, 62.5% found cannabis elevated their pleasure levels.

Similar to partner sex, the use of cannabis-infused lube may further enhance the experience of self-pleasure. As mentioned above, cannabis lube containing THC can increase blood flow to the pelvic region, elevate sensation, relax muscles and boost libido. For women in particular, personal canna-infused lube may help with vaginal dryness.

The bottom line: Does cannabis make you horny?

Many studies exploring the use of cannabis aphrodisiacs in partner sex or masturbation emphasize that expectations may play a critical role. In other words, people who use cannabis and believe that it will lift libido, increase pleasure, enhance sensation, reduce anxiety, or create a mood conducive to good sex, may experience a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nonetheless, there is growing evidence that marijuana is an aphrodisiac, and it can support pleasurable sex in diverse ways. 

If you’re thinking of experimenting with cannabis to boost your sex life, be mindful of how timing, dosage, chemovar, and delivery method can influence your experience. Striking the right balance may be the difference between a mind-blowing sexual encounter or falling asleep before you’ve even got started. As with all mind-altering substances, make sure conversations about consent happen prior to consumption.


  1. Zuardi, Antonio. Braz. J. Psychiatry 28 (2) June 2006 https://doi.org/10.1590/S1516-44462006000200015
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  3. Ellen Wiebe, MD, Alanna Just, MPhil. How Cannabis Alters Sexual Experience: A Survey of Men and Women. August 22, 2019 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.07.023
  4. Johnstad, P.G. Cannabis as entheogen: survey and interview data on the spiritual use of cannabis. J Cannabis Res 2, 30 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-020-00032-2
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  6. NIDA. 2021, April 13. How does marijuana produce its effects?. Retrieved from https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/how-does-marijuana-produce-its-effects on 2022, April 15
  7. 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 medicine, 7(2), 192–197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esxm.2019.01.003
  8. 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 medicine, 7(2), 192–197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esxm.2019.01.003
  9. S. Rajanahally,O. Raheem,M. Rogers,W. Brisbane,K. Ostrowski,T. Lendvay,T. Walsh. The relationship between cannabis and male infertility, sexual health, and neoplasm: a systematic review
    15 February 2019 https://doi.org/10.1111/andr.12585
  10. Fuss J, Bindila L, Wiedemann K, Auer MK, Briken P, Biedermann SV. Masturbation to Orgasm Stimulates the Release of the Endocannabinoid 2-Arachidonoylglycerol in Humans. J Sex Med. 2017 Nov;14(11):1372-1379. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.09.016. PMID: 29110806.
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