Marijuana and sex

Marijuana and sex

One of the many positive aspects of smoking marijuana (or consuming it in some other way) is how it changes your sex life. Some people swear by having sex while high, while others are more skeptical. So what’s the deal with weed and sex? Is stoned sex really that much better than sober sex? We’re here to answer these questions and more about marijuana and sex.

Cannabis (marijuana) has a bit of a mixed reputation when it comes to sex. You may have heard that it’s a traditional herbal aphrodisiac with nearly mythical libido-boosting powers. Or maybe you heard that it can reduce sperm count or contribute to erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. In reality? It’s probably far more complicated than any of those assumptions, which is why we’ve compiled everything we know and don’t know about how cannabis affects sex.

There is one huge caveat, though: Thanks to the system of prohibition that’s dominated drug policy in the U.S. for the past few decades—a system that has had and continues to have a disproportionately large impact on communities of color—there’s simply not a whole lot of research to go on.

Another pretty big caveat: Sexual arousal and functioning is incredibly complicated, so analyzing the sexual effects of any substance is inevitably going to be multilayered. “A lot of the understanding that needs to go into a discussion around cannabis and sexuality has less to do with cannabis and more to do with sexuality,” Jordan Tishler, M.D., medical cannabis expert at InhaleMD in Boston, tells SELF.

When researchers examine sexual enjoyment, they may take different aspects of it into account, including biological, social, and psychological factors that may play a role in attraction, arousal, orgasm, and overall satisfaction, Dr. Tishler says. But even if all of those things are accounted for, good sex means different things to different people—and even different things to the same person, depending on the day. So it’s inherently a little challenging to study, which is a good thing to keep in mind when interpreting these results.

Stoners, good news: smoking weed can indeed enhance your sex life. High sex might be something you’re already deeply familiar with but, like most things, it’s the most gratifying  if you do it the right way. At its worst, weed can make you paranoid, quiet, or weird. But at its best, can stimulate sensory experiences. So, now that rigorous scientific data supports the idea that having sex while high is not a bad idea. The question is, how do you have great sex while high?

First off, credit for this very fun finding goes to Dr. Michael Eisenberg, an assistant professor of urology at Stanford University. After realizing that a majority of his office visits surrounded problems in the bedroom, he  decided to take a more clinical look into things. He gathered data from the U.S. government’s National Survey of Family Growth and to his surprise, found that the more people smoked marijuana, the more success they had in the bedroom.

This isn’t the only study that supports the idea that weed can aid sex. A previous survey conducted by Psychology Today found that marijuana does indeed act as an aphrodisiac among users — a finding that’s been supported by separate studies since. A majority of respondents said smoking weed before sex helps enhance the experience. Of course, that’s not always the case. A minority of participants said smoking kills their libido. Others said it depends on the dose, the strain, as well as, their mood.

That said, the majority of folks who like sex and like smoking weed, seem to enjoy bringing the two together. Folks like Jeff Dillon, who, earlier this year, founded Xblaze, the world’s first and only 420-friendly adult film studio.

“Most people can use cannabis to enhance their sexual experience,” he tells Fatherly. According to Dillon, smoking before sex can increase sensitivity, and help deliver more intense orgasms. Plus, he says, smoking weed often helps reduce anxiety, a major contributor to erectile dysfunction. Side-stepping that symptom brings you one step closer to lasting longer in bed, and hey, that’s something to reach for.

Still, there are some things the casual marijuana user should know before having sex while high. Here’s what to know.

Pick the Right Strain of Weed for Stoned Sex

Certain strains of marijuana are more likely to cater to sex than others. Some tend to put you in a more cerebral mood; others are designed to enhance physical sensations. Figure out which one primes you for sex best (before the big night), and go from there. With that, Dillon says users typically gravitate toward sativa products because they can help increase sensitivity, lift mood, and intensify orgasm. Though, he says, no two people react alike. “Everyone responds differently to different cannabinoids, so what works for one person might not work for another,” he cautions. Don’t feel pressured to match your partner’s smoking experience. Do what feels best for you.

Here’s what the limited research tells us about cannabis and sex.

Most of what we know about cannabis and sex comes from self-reported surveys. Knowing that cannabis is purported to help with anxiety and pain, it makes sense that the plant may also enhance sex indirectly for some by affecting those other issues. But research directly linking cannabis to sexual enjoyment is somewhat lacking.

Because cannabis is a schedule I drug in the U.S. (meaning the federal government decided it has a high potential for abuse and low potential for medical benefit), it’s difficult to study in a controlled environment. You can’t exactly give participants weed and measure how their sex habits change, for example. (Or at least most U.S.-based researchers can’t do that because it requires a specific type of drug license to use the actual compounds, which has historically been incredibly difficult to acquire.)

So, instead, researchers have often used self-reported surveys—in which participants are asked about their drug use and their sexual experiences—to get an idea of what’s going on. But a study like this comes with a few drawbacks.

For one thing, it requires relying on people to accurately (and honestly) remember how much and how often they’ve used particular substances, as well as what effect those substances had on their sex lives. Researchers also have no way of corroborating what survey respondents say. Scientists can’t test the drug people have been using to see what it actually is (does it have a high THC content? Is it a concentrate or an edible?) and they have to trust that they and their study subjects share a common frame of reference for and definition of subjective words to describe a highly personal experience, like “enjoyment.”

Surveys also only show us a correlation between two things, like cannabis use and the enjoyment of sex. They can’t assess the mechanism behind that correlation or even necessarily tell us why it exists. There can be all sorts of reasons why these answers were correlated the way they were, from something inherent in a person’s personality to the self-selecting nature of the survey respondents. It could be that people who are eager to take a survey about cannabis use are more likely to have had a positive experience with cannabis, and so they’re disproportionately less likely to report having issues with it.

Plus, many of these studies have historically focused mostly or entirely on the experience of men. For instance, in a study published in 1979 in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, researchers asked a group of 84 grad students (78 percent of whom were male) what they thought the relationship between cannabis and sex would be. Those who had firsthand experience with the topic (39 percent) were asked to answer from that perspective. Although the groups agreed that cannabis increases overall sexual pleasure, only those who were “experienced smokers” also strongly believed that it increased the intensity of an orgasm and that it should be considered an aphrodisiac.

But this study included a small number of participants (and an even smaller number of people who actually had firsthand experience using cannabis for sex), the majority of whom were young and male. So it’s not clear how well their results would translate to the experience of people outside those groups.

In another study, published in 1984 in the Journal of Sex Research, the researchers actually interviewed their (all white, 62 percent male) college student participants rather than handing them a questionnaire. The study found similar results: Most participants reported that cannabis improved some aspect of sex—but they added a few interesting details.

For instance, although 58 percent of men in that study reported that it increased the quality of their orgasms, only 32 percent of women said the same. But men and women agreed in about the same amount that cannabis increased their desire for a familiar partner (50 percent of men and 60 percent of women), increased sexual pleasure and satisfaction (70 percent of men and 76 percent of women), and improved the sensation of touching (59 percent of men and 57 percent of women). Additionally, only 34 percent of men said cannabis increased snuggling, but 56 percent of women said it did.

Again, this study had a small number of participants, most of whom were not women and all of whom were white. That makes it difficult to know how accurately the responses from women here reflect the feelings of women in general.

A more recent study (that received plenty of headlines), published in 2017 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, used data from the large nationally representative National Survey of Family Growth. Rather than asking people anything about how their sex lives interact with their drug use, the researchers here simply correlated participants’ self-reported frequency of cannabis use with the frequency that they reported having sex.

They found that people who reported using cannabis monthly, weekly, or daily also reported slightly more frequent sex than those who never smoked. (Women who used cannabis daily had an average of 7.1 sexual encounters in the previous four weeks compared to 6 for those who never used it.) But these results can’t answer any questions about whether or not cannabis use is correlated with the enjoyment or satisfaction of those sexual experiences.

Although this study did include a large number of participants, the researchers had to work with data that had already been collected, meaning that the original survey wasn’t necessarily designed to answer the questions the researchers here asked. Another study of the same size using questions specifically designed to examine the relationship between cannabis use and sex would, theoretically, give more accurate results, but it still wouldn’t tell us why people answered the way they did.

Not satisfied with the data from previous studies, Becky Lynn, M.D., director of the Center for Sexual Health and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Saint Louis University, tells SELF that she set out to conduct her own survey. “I wanted to know what women really thought,” she says. “Did they think that marijuana was improving their sex life?”

To find out, she worked with other people in her practice to offer a survey asking about cannabis usage with regards to sex—whether or not it had any effect on sex drive, orgasm, lubrication, pain, and the overall sexual experience—to everyone who came through their doors. Some of the more than 30 experts at that center are ob/gyns like Dr. Lynn, but there are also obstetricians, urogynecologists, gynecological oncologists, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialists. Every patient who saw any doctor there was offered the survey, so “it wasn’t only people coming in with sexual problems” who were offered it, Dr. Lynn says.

Ultimately, over 300 women filled it out and the results became the basis of two studies recently presented at the World Meeting on Sexual Medicine and the annual meeting of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health—and just published in Sexual Medicine.

Of 373 respondents, 176 reported ever using cannabis, with about half of them reporting frequent use (anywhere from once a week to several times a day) and half of them reporting infrequent use (anywhere from once a year to a few times a year). And 127 of the 176 cannabis users reported ever using cannabis before sex.

There were a few major findings, like that people who reported ever using cannabis prior to sex were more likely to report having satisfying orgasms than those who did not use cannabis before sex (and this was a statistically significant difference). And those who reported frequent cannabis use (not necessarily before sex) were also significantly more likely to report having satisfying orgasms than people who reported infrequent cannabis use. People who reported using cannabis before sex were also more likely to say that they use cannabis specifically to decrease pain (though this wasn’t a statistically significant difference).

This study does have many of the same limitations as those that came before it (such as a small sample size and a possible self-selection bias), but it’s unique in that it primarily focuses on the experience of women. However, like many of the other studies on this topic, the participants were primarily white and heterosexual.

Does marijuana work like female Viagra?

Among the many legends circulating around marijuana and sex, it is said that smoking weed can significantly increase a woman’s libido. This isn’t new information, either: it has been shown time and time again throughout human history that this is the case, but of course (as with most aspects of marijuana’s usefulness) it has yet to be properly studied in clinical trials.

That being said, many cultures throughout history have specifically used marijuana simply for the purpose of benefiting women in their sexual arousal and satisfaction. Part of this has to do with the fact that, for women, a large part of feeling sexually stimulated comes from relaxation. In a life filled with stressors, it can be tough to get away from it all — but marijuana often helps with that.

Apparently, makers of Viagra are making a female version called Addyi. Some negative side effects come with its main chemical, flibanserin. It essentially is an antidepressant (which is more or less the opposite of male Viagra) and can form habits, lower blood pressure, and even lead to a loss of consciousness if alcohol or birth control is used with it. It reduces energy, causes dizziness, and sometimes even makes the person nauseous. It enhances sexual desire a tiny bit but does nothing for actual performance or orgasms.

Marijuana serves as an excellent alternative. It doesn’t come with all the unpleasant and dangerous side effects that a flibanserin-based pill does, and it is far more effective. Not only does it increase libido, but it also amps up orgasms and performance for many people as well.

Some women even put marijuana products (such as marijuana oil) into their vaginas to absorb the THC quickly and even transfer it to their sexual partner, leading to an increased libido and better orgasm. If you use this technique, be sure not to have any sort of contaminants in the product; it should be pure bubblehash or materials that are only resins — concentrated products such as hashish or rosin.

Does marijuana improve sex?

It certainly can, but it can also make you so lazy that you can barely function sexually. The key is to choose the correct strain (as well as the right setting). When done correctly, marijuana can serve as an aphrodisiac orgasm booster for both of you. Kush marijuana is commonly known as the best type of marijuana for having sex while high on weed. That being said, you will have to check it out for yourself.

Once you do find the right strain for both you and your sexual partner, you should experience a more powerful and even long-lasting orgasm, more mental relaxation, and less stress and nerves. The key is to know a certain strain of marijuana in regular everyday use before trying it as your “sex weed.”

Some of the best strains for having sex while high on weed include Cheese, Super Lemon Haze, Kali Mist, and Canna Sutra. Try these out to see which one gives you the best kind of marijuana sex. The right strains will amplify your senses and increase libido, making for highly improved sex.

Is it the same as having sex while drunk?

Many people wonder if having sex while high would be similar to having sex while drunk. We can confidently assure you that they are very different experiences for a number of reasons. For one thing, people under the influence of alcohol will likely have lower standards for the partners they choose, whether it be appearance or personal character. According to studies of people’s impressions with both products (alcohol and weed), this apparently doesn’t occur nearly as often in stoned people.

Regret seems to plague people who have drunken sexual encounters, but not people who have stoned sexual encounters. The feelings of shame, embarrassment, and regret don’t come into play with weed the way they do with marijuana. You can also more easily get sick from having drunk sex but having stoned sex you are more likely to become mentally distracted part way through.

Finally, pleasure is different if you’re under the influence of alcohol versus marijuana. With alcohol, numbness is a quality of a sexual encounter. With marijuana, often sexual encounters are more passionate and intense (in a good way).

All in all, stoned sex is definitely something worth trying out. Keep in mind that moderation is key in these situations; if you overdo the marijuana, you might end up too out of it or lazy to be able to have an awesome sexual encounter. Try it slowly at first, then experiment from there. Have fun!

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