When COVID-19 unleashed its fury around the globe, it was widely assumed that people in romantic relationships would face serious obstacles. From the stress and fear induced by the deadly virus to quarantining for weeks at a time, couples encountered unfamiliar and frightening circumstances that challenged their perspectives of the world and each other.
“As lockdowns limited our movements and left couples spending unprecedented amounts of time together, many believed that divorce and fighting would skyrocket,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
But in a shocking twist, it appears that the pandemic — the supposed doom of American lovers — might be an unexpected gift.
For example, this March the Kinsey Institute reported that over half of the 2,000 surveyed participants who “experienced the pandemic as part of a couple feel their relationship has improved.”
Additionally, according to Monmouth University, as of February 2021 a “whopping 70% of romantically committed American adults [were] “extremely satisfied” in their relationships, [marking] a more than 11-point increase over previous installations of the survey,” reports The Guardian.
Let’s Talk About Sex Baby
In terms of intimacy, pandemic couples are having better and more experimental sex. According to the previously mentioned Kinsey Institute study, “30% of American women say they [are] having better sex than before [COVID-19 hit].”
Furthermore, 46% of respondents are “engaging in more sexual experimentation, from erotica to mutual masturbation to toys and more,” reports Esquire.
However, it appears that while sex between pandemic couples might be getting kinker, it also occurs less often.
For example, a study titled Less Sex, but More Sexual Diversity conducted by the Kinsey Institute in the spring of 2020, just after the outbreak began, found one in five participants reported “expanding their sexual repertoire by incorporating new activities.”
“Common additions included sexting, trying new sexual positions, and sharing sexual fantasies,” the report added. However, the study also concluded that half of the 1,559 participants reported a decline in their sex life, revealing that their sex was more experiental but also less frequent.
As part of sexual experimentation or to help matters in the bedroom, cannabis offers a hoard of potential benefits. Emerald spoke to Dr. Tishler, Harvard physician, cannabis therapeutics specialist, and president of the Association of Cannabinoid Specialists, about the advantages and pitfalls of using cannabis in the bedroom.
For our coupled readers or those seeking a unique self-pleasure session, Tishler also offered his advice on how to combine cannabis and sex for the best results.
Problems in the Bedroom
Viagra treats erectile dysfunction, but cannot help with other men’s issues or women. Sourced from reason.
Issues with desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction are more common than one might believe. According to the nonprofit medical center, Cleveland Clinic, approximately 43% of women and 31% of men report some degree of sexual dysfunction.
Symptoms of sexual dysfunction include erectile dysfunction, inability to ejaculate, premature/delayed ejaculation, inability to orgasm, inadequate vaginal relaxation and lubrication, lack of desire, and pain with intercourse, reports the clinic.
There is a lack of medication available to treat these wide-affecting issues, Tishler laments: “Viagra and Cialis are good for men who are having erectile dysfunction issues. But men face a whole range of other issues. And for women [this] particular type of medication doesn’t do anything,” he explained. “Essentially, women are pretty much untreated while men are only treated for one out of many issues that may arise.”
However, Tishler adds “that cannabis, if used properly and carefully, can help all genders across a whole range of issues.”
Reaping the Benefits
To ascertain how cannabis can aid in sexual intimacy, Tishler inquires what can typically go wrong in the bedroom. For one, “we can talk about desire, which sometimes isn’t abundant or equally matched in couples.” For example, some partners experience a mismatch in libido, where one individual is more interested in sex than the other. In those cases, cannabis may help stimulate their desire and increase arousal.
According to a study conducted by The Journal of Sexual Medicine, of 202 survery participants, 119 (58.9%) said cannabis increased their desire for sex, and 44 of 199 participants (74.3%) reported an increased sensitivity to touch. In 2017, the Stanford University School of Medicine also found a positive association between “frequency of marijuana use and frequency of sexual intercourse.”
“Independent of demographic, health, marital or parental status,” the results support a “possible active role for marijuana in fostering sexual activity,” revealing in greater detail the relationship between cannabis and increased arousal and desire.
Another classic issue Tishler presents are orgasms. Many people climax too quickly or too slowly for their liking, or are unable to reach climax once aroused. “Some younger men have orgasms sooner than they or their partner would like,” Tishler tells Emerald. On the contrary, “older men tend to have more [trouble climaxing].”
Furthermore, in women of all ages “there is a tendency to have difficulty with orgasms,” he says.
Depending upon the cause, cannabis provides aid. In younger men, consuming cannabis helps them to last longer, while older male consumers are enabled to achieve climax.
Most existing research suggests that cannabis can lead to increased rates of erectile dysfunction. Tishler acknowledges that high doses of cannabis can lead to inability to maintain an erection. However, he emphasizes that when used correctly cannabis may help men achieve orgasm due to its calming effects. Dosage is crucial in these situations, as will be later discussed.
Additionally, in women it has a “tendency to increase frequency and intensity of orgasm,” Tishler explains.
The “orgas-meter.” Sourced from GQ.
The research of the Journal of Sexual Medicine illustrates this point, as the women in their study “who used marijuana before sex […] were more than twice as likely to report satisfactory orgasms as those who did not use marijuana before sex.”
In regards to female pleasure, the relationship between cannabis and arousal is historically and anecdotally established. Particularly when applied locally to the vulva, THC products have a pertinent effect.
According to Foria, when women are aroused “blood rushes to [the] clitoris and vagina, creating opening, elongating and lubrication.” This effect can be mimicked with the application of THC lube, as “when […] phytocannabinoids [are applied] to [the] vulva, they also increase blood flow there,” helping with the common issue of dryness. Fun fact — this side effect of cannabis, known as vasodilation, is also the reason why consumption causes eye reddening!
While cannabis is shown to help individuals get in the mood, and reach climax — it might also assist in satisfaction after sex too.
For instance, Tishler explains that when consumed, cannabis “increases the secretion of the hormone oxytocin, which has been implicated in that feeling of intimacy and connectedness we’re all seeking.”
Oxytocin, reports The Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, could be the “substance responsible for happiness.” If not, it is at least an “important brain compound in building trust, which is necessary in developing emotional relationships”
Its increased secretion during and after sex, thanks to cannabis, can thus encourage emotional attachment and between partners and individual satisfaction.
A Safe Approach
The potential downfalls of employing cannabis in the bedroom mainly revolve around dosage.
While women can be less cautious in their cannabis dosage prior to love making, men should be more vigilant, “as higher levels of intoxication can […] interfere with the maintenance of an erection,” according to Tishler.
Additionally, Tishler highlighted that high doses of cannabis, especially in those who are new to consumption, can cause anxiety and paranoia. These emotions, while not directly related to sex, can make it difficult to be intimate with a partner.
So what is the best way to begin using cannabis for sex, with or without a partner? Tishler gave some helpful recommendations to Emerald:
- Try it out solo: “It is very wise for people who are not used to cannabis to […] set aside some time where they’re not feeling pressured,” he says. “They can use a small amount of cannabis and masturbate and see what it does.”
- Use a flower vaporizer: Tishler recommends inhalation as the consumption method before sex, as it is relatively rapid in onset (unlike edibles) and easy to confirm the right dosage.
- Measure dosage carefully: “Count your puffs” (deep breaths in), Tishler advises. “If you’re putting 15-20% THC cannabis in a vaporizer, you’re getting roughly 5 mg in each puff. A very average dose is two puffs [10 mg]. Take a couple puffs, turn the machine off and wait a bit, and see if that gets you where you need to be. For someone really new to [cannabis], I’d even recommend one puff.”
- Have a discussion with your partner: Tishler encourages an open and honest discussion about using cannabis in the bedroom outside the bedroom. Clarify consent and “sound out [your] partner’s feelings about using cannabis” on themselves or another.
A cannabis flower vaporizer. Sourced from Weed Republic.
Finding the Right Fit
Although experimentation and time are required to discern what works, cannabis has a lot to offer to both single and coupled people who are looking to spice up or improve their sex lives. For those in search of greater sensation, increased arousal, or simply a different sexual experience, cannabis presents a golden opportunity. And honestly — who out there doesn’t want a more intense orgasm?