Alcohol, narcotics, cocaine, meth—you name it, their sexual effects are well-documented and quite predictable. The exception is marijuana. Its sexual effects are all over the map, from “I can’t stand having sex stoned,” to “I never have sex without it.”
Those who call marijuana sex-inhibiting typically report that it pulls them so deeply inside themselves that they lose their sense of connection to their partner and to lovemaking. Those who don’t like to make love high “call the killer weed sex-killer weed.”
Meanwhile those who call marijuana sex-enhancing usually say that it boosts their desire, enhances enjoyment of sensual touch, helps them feel closer to their partner, and improves sexual pleasure and satisfaction.
Does marijuana enhance sex?
For the past 40 years, scientists have tried to pin down weed’s sexual effects. The first study, in the mid-1970s was…how can I put this delicately?—absurd. It showed that marijuana reduces blood levels of the sex hormone testosterone by up to 50 percent. Because testosterone fuels sex drive in both men and women (yes, women produce female versions of male sex hormones), the researchers said this could cause libido loss. The news media trumpeted this study, and law enforcement and government officials proclaimed, “Pot destroys sex.” The study is still cited today—despite the fact that it was totally wrong.
The study triggered a flurry of research on marijuana and testosterone that was published in the late 1970s. Those studies—several of them—all agreed that marijuana caused no significant suppression of testosterone, therefore, no libido loss or sexual impairment, even among frequent users.
In the 1980s, several studies showed that pot’s sexual effects are all over the map, from strongly sex-inhibiting to strongly sex-enhancing, but most people reported enhancement. The best report, based on interviews with 97 adults in Kansas City, showed that “more than two-thirds of subjects reported increased sexual pleasure and satisfaction with marijuana use. About half of both sexes also reported increased sexual desire while using marijuana. Emotional closeness and physical enjoyment of snuggling were also enhanced.” But one-third said the drug was not sex-enhancing, and half reported no increase in desire. [Weller, RA and JA Halikas, “Marijuana Use and Sexual Behavior,” Journal of Sex Research (1984) 20:186.]
That was pretty much where things stood for 20 years.
Then, in 2003, Canadian researchers interviewed 104 Toronto adults. Did weed increase their libido? One-quarter said it “often” or “always” did, 40 percent said “sometimes,” and one-third said it “seldom” or “never” enhanced their sexual desire. In other words, about half called the drug reliably sex-enhancing, but half said otherwise. One-third said sexual enhancement was a key reason they used weed, but half said sex played little, if any, role in their use of the drug. [Hathaway, AD, “Cannabis Effects and Dependency Concerns in Long-Term Frequent Users,” Addiction Research and Theory (2003) 11:441]
In 2008, another Canadian team interviewed 41 adults. About half said marijuana boosted their libidos, increased sensitivity to touch, and enhanced erotic pleasure. But half said it did not. [Osborne GB and C Fogel. “Understanding the Motivations for Recreational Marijuana Use Among Canadians,” Substance Use and Misuse (2008) 43:539]
As it happens, as a journalist, I’ve covered sexuality and sex research for 40 years, for the past few years, I’ve written the “All About Sex” blog for PsychologyToday.com.
I put this question to my readers: How does marijuana affect your sex life? About 100 responded.
Marijuana enhances sex: 67%
- “I’m not a frequent smoker, but when I have smoked and then had sex, its been the most amazing sex of my life.”
- “Marijuana engulfs me in sex foam. I’m just pure sex on that stuff. It’s great. I could never feel that way sober or drunk.”
- “Definitely enhances sex. A few tokes make me feel horny the vast majority of the time, and it makes the whole experience much more enjoyable.”
- “After smoking, I can feel my nipples perk up, clitoris tingle, and vagina become wet to the point that I can feel it through my pants and my man knows he is in for a LONG night.”
- “Cannabis is soooo good for sex that sometimes it can become awkward because the woman might get the wrong idea….”
Marijuana destroys sex: 12%
- “My boyfriend and I have smoked (fairly heavily) for the past year and I would say that it 100% has a terrible effect on our sex life. It’s been a huge libido killer for our relationship.”
- “As I’ve continued to use marijuana (been almost 5 years smoking now) it’s inhibited sex for me more and more.”
It depends on the dose, strain, and one’s mood: 20%
- “The effects of marijuana strongly relate to how a person is feeling prior to smoking. If I’m in a bad mood and smoke, sex is completely out of the question because, as stated above, I become too “inward” and just can’t connect with someone 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.”
- Contrary to popular belief not all buds are alike. Some of it makes you want to be very sexual and I’ve had some of the best orgasms of my life after using marijuana. Some of it makes you feel more introverted and thoughtful. Perhaps you should consider that like any drug, there are variations of it that give different responses.”
- “I find that indica shortly before sex is just unbeatable for mind blowing lovemaking. Sativa should be avoided as it’s cerebral nature will make your mind wander.”
Now, these comments come from is a small, self-selected pool, so I make no claim that the findings are definitive. But they show that marijuana’s sexual effects are, indeed, unpredictable. Of course, many drugs have multiple effects, typically, a major action and then side effects. But compared to most drugs—and all other recreational drugs—weed seems to have a wider range of effects.
Does marijuana enhance sex? How do you feel?
(BTW – I have also written a novel, Killer Weed – Murders, Mystery & Marijuana. Check it out!)