Does a toke before bed deliver you deeper into the throes of passion, or leave you feeling disconnected from your lover?
As recreational cannabis legalization spreads, clinical experts are venturing into uncharted territory to explore how sex and cannabis interact.
The findings reported thus far make for evocative reading, and hint that for some, weed could be a powerful, natural sexual aid.
Cannabis and Libido in Women
Gynecologist-obstetrician Dr. Becky Kaufman Lynn's research interest in cannabis and libido was first piqued by her patients.
"My interest in this realm came from the many patients that I see in my clinic who have confided in me that using marijuana treats their sexual problems,” Lynn said. “I have seen it used in women with chronic pain disorders that lead to painful sex, women who experience difficulty with orgasm or an inability to orgasm, and women who use it to improve their libido, which may not match their partner's libido.”
Lynn co-authored several papers investigating women, cannabis use, libido, and perception of sexual experience. In her survey of 133 adult women during an annual checkup, 29% revealed that they had used marijuana before sex, and 68% of users said that it made their sexual experience more pleasurable. Seventy-two percent reported that cannabis always increased erotic pleasure, while 24% felt that it sometimes did. Sixty-two percent divulged that cannabis increased their libidos and intensified their orgasm.
Sixteen percent of respondents revealed that they used cannabis prior to sex specifically to alleviate pain resulting from intercourse, and 83% stated that cannabis relieved their pain “moderately to a lot.” Despite the prevalence of positive experiences,16% of women declared that cannabis ruined their sexual experience. A second study with a larger sample, 289 women, reported similar findings.
More Weed Equals More Sex
A 2017 study by Stanford University School of Medicine and published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed that regular cannabis users enjoy more sex — 20% more, to be exact — than those who do not use. Women come out on top with 34% more sex, and men enjoy 22% more encounters between the sheets.
According to one of the study's co-authors, Dr. Michael Eisenberg, frequent marijuana use doesn't appear to impair sexual motivation or performance, but in fact, leads to increased sexual frequency.
Cannabis and Sex: Context Matters
One of the most intriguing issues raised by the emerging research into sex and cannabis is that it can evoke such radically distinctive experiences among users.
According to psychologist and author of GreatSexGuidance.com Michael Castleman, context and dose has a great deal to do with users' experiences. For Castleman, part of the key to understanding the effect of cannabis on sex and libido is that it results in a spectrum of outcomes.
”It depends,” he explains. “On the strain. The mood. The lover. The experience of sex on weed changes with the dose. Like so much about cannabis, it's individual.” In one informal survey Castleman ran, participants offered up the following frank insights:
“If I'm in a bad mood and smoke, sex is completely out of the question because I withdraw into myself and just can't connect with anyone else. On the other hand, if my beau and I have had a great night out and top it off with a bowl, it's definitely got its merits,” one participant reported.
“Not all buds are alike. Some weed makes you want to be very sexual. I've had some of the best orgasms of my life after using marijuana. Some of it makes you feel more introverted and thoughtful,” another participant said.
Ultimately, determining the right dosage for optimal sexual experience can be akin to Goldilocks trying to find the perfect bed, requiring the user to tinker with the dose until they achieve an outcome that is just right.
“People I know who combine the two say sometimes they take too little, sometimes the right amount, and sometimes too much to the point where they're so zonked they can't really focus on the sex,” Castleman said.
Reported Benefits of Sex While High
So what are the potential benefits of consuming cannabis before bed?
“People who find it enhancing say it relaxes them, tunes them into the moment, and enhances kissing, touching and being touched, that it boosts sensuality,” Castleman said. “People who find it off-putting say it makes them withdraw into themselves and breaks the erotic connection to their partners.”
For Lynn, the key to cannabis's sexual benefits may lie in the perceptual changes it provokes in the user.
“It may slow the temporal perception of time and prolong the feelings of pleasurable sensations,” she said. “Marijuana is also known to heighten sensations like touch, smell, sight, taste, and hearing. Lowering the impact of stress, anxiety and improving sexual confidence also likely contribute.”
Lynn also emphasizes that if the sexual experience feels better, the individual's desire to have sex will likely be increased. ”Cannabis may also lower sexual inhibitions and increase confidence and a willingness to experiment,” she adds.
However, the reverse can also be true. Castleman notes that those who find cannabis detrimental to sex report that it inhibits their connection to their partner, suppresses their libido, or causes them to withdraw into themselves.
Tips From The Experts
Lynn advises any woman considering exploring sex under the influence to weigh the risks and benefits of doing so. She also urges consumers to pay close attention to the labels and exercise extra care when purchasing cannabis products in the unlicensed marketplace, where potency may not be clear.Lovers interested in combining sex and cannabis should experiment with strains and dosages to see what works for them. Click To Tweet
Castleman advises lovers interested in combining sex and cannabis to experiment with strains and dosages to see what works for them.
“With today's high-potency cannabis, and especially with super-high-potency vapes, one decent hit is almost always enough for several hours of play,” he cautioned.
Featured image by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps