Research shows cannabis can enhance sexual experiences. Photo credit: Addictive_Stock.
People who consume cannabis and alcohol regularly may have a better sex life, according to scientific research.
The recent study, The Influence of Cannabis and Alcohol Use on Sexuality: An Observational Study in Young People, analyzes the influence cannabis and alcohol have on the enjoyment of sex in 18 to 30-year-olds, adding to the limited and unclear research on the topic.
What did the Study Find?
Overall, researchers found that “sexual function in young people who use cannabis and alcohol more frequently was shown to be better than in those who do not use either, highlighting the need for more information aimed at the young population.”
More specifically, cannabis users indicated more arousal, orgasms and better overall sexual function. It seems that the more cannabis they consume, the better their sex like. For example, participants who consumed cannabis more often scored higher than moderate cannabis users. These findings applied to all cannabis using participants, regardless of gender.
Furthermore, those with high rates of cannabis consumption and moderate levels of alcohol use experienced the greatest sexual function.
Alcohol users and non-users overall did not display a significant difference in sexual experience. However, heavy but non-dependent drinkers did experience greater sexual function than light, moderate and non-drinkers.
The study, conducted at the University of Almeria, analyzed 274 participants from January to June 2020. Participants included regular cannabis users, regular alcohol users and non-users. In it, researchers surveyed 189 women and 89 men.
Researchers excluded young adults that use other substances, like MDMA, cocaine, LSD, etc, or have certain medical diagnoses that could affect their sexual experience, such as depression, anxiety, or diabetes.
Researchers collected data through the Spanish version of three common surveys. This included: the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test, the Cannabis Abuse Screening Test and the Changes in Sexual Functioning Questionnaire Short-Form.
Combining Cannabis, Alcohol and Sex: Risky or Ingenious?
While results show a connection between increased pleasure and these substances, it doesn’t seem to be a direct one. For instance, researchers explain that cannabis and alcohol have the ability to reduce inhibition, distort time, heighten perception and increase relaxation. This may explain an increase in pleasure during sex.
“This improvement is usually associated with a reduction in anxiety and shame, which facilitates sexual relationships,” according to the study.
These same affects can also encourage unsafe sexual behavior. Such riskiness, in turn, can cause an increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs), the study also says.
“[…] This increase in sexual function is generally accompanied by unsafe sexual behaviours, given that the use of drugs, notably alcohol and cannabis, in recreational nightlife settings is highly normalized and ingested in large quantities.”
A separate Canadian study echoes the link between substance use and STI infection. The study found that college students who use substances were more likely to contract STIs.
According to the University of Almeria research team, alcohol and cannabis are the most common substances that young people use to enhance sexual experiences.
While this study found a positive relationship between the substances and sexual pleasure, some existing research is contradictory. Additionally, researchers said small number of people participated in the study; as such, these findings may not hold true among older populations.
“The number of participants in this study was relatively small; therefore, the study findings should be interpreted cautiously. These findings are based on a convenience sample, and some participants may have refused to participate because cannabis use is currently illegal in Spain, and their social acceptability may have resulted in a denial of cannabis use.”
Contradictory and Similar Findings from Other Studies
This study is not the first to research the link between cannabis and sex. Some studies have similar findings, but others suggest the opposite.
In fact, one study gathered that cannabis users are twice as likely to experience erectile dysfunction than non-users. Three studies in the Middle East and two in Europe tested this hypothesis. Of the 3,399 participants, the average age was about 20.
However, similar research shows a positive relationship between cannabis use in women and better sex. More specifically, a study in Women’s Sexual Health shows that women who use cannabis frequently experience increased sex drives, decreased pain during sex and better orgasms.
Those who used cannabis immeditely before a sexual interaction were 2.13 times more likely to achieve a satisfactory orgasm. Female participants who used cannabis frequently, regardless of time of consumption, were 2.10 times more likely to report a satisfactory orgasm than those who are not frequent users.
Another study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, shows a link between cannabis use and an increase in sexual frequency in the U.S. This echoes the findings of the previous study that cannabis can increase sex drive and positively alter the sexual experiences of a population.
Whether cannabis consumption elevates sexual experiences or not is still up for debate. But an increase in the volume of these studies may lead us to the correct answer in the near future.