The Science of Gettin’ it on With the Help of Herb
Put the oysters and chocolate aside — If you’re looking for a natural aphrodisiac, consuming cannabis may prove to help put you in the mood.
A recent study, titled “Association Between Marijuana Use and Sexual Frequency in the United States,” found cannabis users to have more sex than nonusers – approximately 20 percent more, in fact.
The study is the first of its type to investigate the connection between cannabis use and sex drive in the U.S. population, according to Stanford University’s New Center.
The need to study the relationship between the two comes at a time when usage in America is on the rise. As it stands, 30 states have approved cannabis policies; more than 20 million Americans report using it; and on a global scale, it is the most commonly used “illicit” substance in the world.
Researchers from Stanford’s Department of Urology conducted the investigation, which analyzed more than 50,000 Americans between the ages of 25-45. In order to examine cannabis use and frequency of sex, researchers turned to 12 years of data provided by the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) annual National Survey for Family Growth – which tracks information relating to demographics, fertility, family structure and sexual practices.
The report, published in the “Journal of Sexual Medicine” in October 2017, found that both men and women who consume cannabis have more sex. “Women denying marijuana use in the past year […] had sex on average six times during the previous four weeks, whereas that number was 7.1 for daily pot users,” Stanford’s News Center reported, “Among men, the corresponding figure was 5.6 for nonusers and 6.9 for daily users.”
Though these findings suggest a connection between frequency of coitus and cannabis, “it does not say if you smoke more marijuana, you’ll have more sex,” explained the study’s lead author and assistant professor of urology, Michael Eisenberg, in the News Center’s report.
Furthermore, the study also suggested “marijuana use does not impair sexual function,” contrary to popular beliefs, which suggest use may inhibit male performance.
Stanford’s large-scale study, however, isn’t the only study to establish such a positive connection. Comparatively, another study conducted in 2011, titled “Impact of Cannabis Use on Male Sexual Health,” found, “recent animal and in vitro studies have identified potential links between cannabis and sexual health.” It’s authors reported, “[…] cannabis may actually have peripheral antagonizing effects on erectile function by stimulating specific receptors in the [penis].”
Researchers have also found evidence that cannabinoids stimulate females’ sexual experience, too. In the 2012 study, titled “Circulating Endocannabinoid Concentrations and Sexual Arousal in Women,” results revealed “a significant relationship between endocannabinoid concentrations and female sexual arousal […].”
For some, this isn’t a new realization, but a sort of unspoken side effect — which caused experts to believe this may not have to do with cannabis — but, rather personality types of users who may be more willing to engage in sex, seek thrills, etc.
Until now, that is. Stanford’s Eisenberg said that when “considering other potentially confounding factors, such as alcohol or cocaine use, age, religion or having children, the association between more marijuana and more sex held,” in an NPR report on the study.
The pattern existed in “pretty much every group we studied,” he added.
In other words, “A positive association between marijuana use and sexual frequency is seen in men and women across all demographic groups,” the study concluded.
While this research suggests sexual frequency increases with cannabis use, it does not explore why, or how, the link exists. “The Emerald Magazine” asked Dee Dussault, author, ganja yoga extraordinaire, and certified sex therapist, to find out why this could be the case.
Dussault said cannabis certainly enriches the sex lives of those who like the plant. Of course, everybody reacts differently, which is no different in the bedroom, and no two strains are guaranteed to have the same effect.
“For those of us who already have a relationship to the plant, cannabis heightens relaxation in the muscles and [decreases] anxious thoughts,” Dussault explained. “It brings us more into the present world — the world of sensation — and can have the effect of slowing down time, making one more sensitive to pleasure, more appreciative.”
For these reasons, Dussault said, “cannabis can deepen connection, enhance intimacy, and make things feel more intense in bed.”
Dussault brings hundreds of hours, and years of experience to her bodywork business (which offers yoga, talk therapy or spiritual sessions). Ultimately, she helps her students achieve bliss – whether that includes cannabis, or not.
As it turns out, cannabis may enhance blissfulness in our bodies. In fact, humans naturally produce Anandamide, the endocannabinoid known as the “bliss hormone,” according to “The Neurochemicals of Happiness,” published in “Psychology Today.”
Anandamide, and other cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, work within our body’s cannabinoid systems; “The assumption is that each of these acts like a key that slips into a different lock of the cannabinoid system and alters perceptions and states of consciousness in various ways,” the article explains.
For those unfamiliar with how to bring cannabis into the bedroom, or are curious whether it’s worth it, Dussault recommends starting small. “[…] Taking time to get educated about the basics, sampling at low doses over a range of days and weeks to find personal preferences, and starting with masturbation before exploring cannabis-enhanced partner-sex, are good bits of advice.”
“For those that have had negative experiences with cannabis before,” Dussault added, “begin with non-psychoactive infused topicals for massage, cannabis-enhanced lube, and very high CBD products at first. Then dose very small when exploring THC.”
While the effects of cannabis on sex drive are still unraveling, and more research is needed, one thing remains true — cannabis users have more sex overall. Perhaps it’s because of cannabis’ ability to heighten senses, says psychologist Mitch Earleywine in the NPR report, “Does Smoking Pot Lead to More Sex?”
“It gets people to appreciate the moment more anyway,” he noted, “They like food more, find humor in things more easily, so it wouldn’t be stunning to think they would enjoy sex more.”