Not long ago, the U.S. government prohibited almost all research into the effects of marijuana, now increasingly called cannabis. But in recent years, 28 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana and seven states have legalized its recreational use. One welcome consequence has been a modest increase in research into its effects—including its impact on lovemaking. Three recent reports agree that for most men and women, cannabis enhances sex.
The Three Studies
Researchers at St. Louis University in Missouri surveyed 133 adult women during annual gynecology check-ups. Thirty-eight (29 percent) reported having used cannabis prior to partner sex. Of that group, 16 percent said it ruined sex, 68 percent said it made sex “more pleasurable,” and 16 percent expressed no opinion. Among those who called cannabis sex enhancing, almost three-quarters (72 percent) said it always increased their erotic pleasure, while 24 percent said sometimes. Almost two-thirds (62 percent) said it increased their libidos and the pleasure of their orgasms. In addition, 16 percent of users reported consuming cannabis prior to sex specifically to relieve pain that interfered with lovemaking. Of that group, 83 percent said it worked, relieving their pain from moderately to a great deal.
Next, the same team surveyed a larger group, 289 adult women, during gynecology check-ups. Ninety-six (33 percent) said they’d used cannabis prior to lovemaking. Users and abstainers were demographically similar, with no significant differences in overall health, libido, sexual function, orgasm, or sexual satisfaction. Among users, 3 percent called the herb sex killing, 65 percent deemed it enhancing, 23 percent said it made no difference, and 16 percent expressed no opinion. Among those who called cannabis sex enhancing, 53 percent said it improved things always, while 32 percent said sometimes. Of those who experienced erotic enhancement, 60 percent reported increased sexual desire, 53 percent reported more intense orgasms, and 26 percent noticed more vaginal self-lubrication. Thirteen of the women (14 percent) said they’ve used it to relieve pain that interfered with sex, and 77 percent of them said they’d experienced moderate to a great deal of benefit.
Finally, Stanford researchers conducted the largest study to date. They extracted information about sex and marijuana from three installments of the ongoing National Survey of Family Growth—data from 2002, 2006-2010, and 2011-2015. Their total data set included 28,176 women and 22,943 men, average age 30 who formed a representative sample of the U.S. population. Compared with cannabis abstainers, men who used it weekly reported 22 percent more sex, women 34 percent more. Among those who used marijuana more than weekly, sexual frequency increased even more.
These studies confirm and extend previous reports. Most studies—including my own informal survey of readers of a previous blog post—show that around two-thirds of people call cannabis sex enhancing. This group generally says the drug increases their ability to enjoy sensual pleasure and focus intently on their partner and lovemaking. Around 20 percent call it sex killing, saying the drug makes them withdraw from partners into themselves, which destroys their erotic connection. And around 15 percent say marijuana’s sexual effects depend on other factors: the strain (sativa or indica), their mood, and their feelings for the other person.
Cannabis vs. Alcohol
Meanwhile, the world’s most widely used sex drug is alcohol. Many people lose their virginity drunk and quite a few pair booze and sex throughout life. The first drink is disinhibiting, so it helps coax reluctant paramours into bed. But depending on one’s weight and tolerance, two or more drinks depress the central nervous system. This raises the risk of erection impairment in men, reduced clitoral sensitivity in women, and in both genders, reduces the pleasure of orgasm and decreases sexual satisfaction. In addition, the combination of sex and alcohol greatly increases women’s risk of sexual assault.
I’m not advocating stoned sex. Many lovers value total sobriety during lovemaking. But if you feel inclined to combine lovemaking with a recreational drug, cannabis is preferable to alcohol. For most lovers, marijuana is more sex enhancing. Experiment with dosage to see how it affects you. Drunk sex is often lousy lovemaking, but no study, including these three, has ever shown cannabis to impair sexual function. And marijuana is not associated with sexual assault.
One Cannabis Caveat
While marijuana generally boosts sexual enjoyment, be careful with edibles. When smoking or vaping, after a hit or two, in a few minutes, you’re good for several hours. But with edibles, dose control is more difficult. Label recommendations can’t be trusted. You must experiment to learn how much of which edibles work best for you. In addition, edibles may take an hour to produce their effects. Experiment with dosage and timing before you use edibles for lovemaking.
You may also be interested in reading Sex and Marijuana – Does Weed Enhance Sex or Destroy It?
Lynn, B. et al. “The Relationship Between Marijuana Use Prior to Sex and Sexual Function in Women,” Journal of Sexual Medicine (2017) 14 (Suppl. 1): S105.
Lynn, B. et al. “The Perceived Effects of Marijuana Use Before Sex,” Journal of Sexual Medicine (2017) 14 (Suppl. 5): 3257.
Sun, A.J. and M.L. Eisenberg. “Association Between Marijuana Use and Sexual Frequency in the United States: A Population-Based Study,” Journal of Sexual Medicine (2017) 14:1342.