In countries where cannabis use has recently been legalised, there are a growing number of people advocating the use of cannabis products in the bedroom. The term ‘cannasexual’ has been coined to describe people who mindfully use cannabis to enhance their sex life, and cannabis lubricants, oils, edibles, vapes and specific strains of flowers geared towards improving sex lives are claiming shelf space in dispensaries and health food shops.
Using cannabis to enhance sexual pleasure dates back hundreds of years. In India, tantric practitioners incorporated cannabis into their sexual rituals as early as 700 AD, consuming warm milk drinks infused with bhang (cannabis leaf and flower). In Uganda and eastern Europe, cannabis has a long history of use for erectile dysfunction. In Russia, women reportedly smeared themselves in lamb fat infused with cannabis to make sex on their wedding night less painful.
The principle cannabinoids responsible for the sex enhancing effects of cannabis are thought to be THC and CBD. Different ratios of each produce markedly different effects and can be tailored to support specific sexual needs. For example, too much THC can be anxiety provoking and being too ‘high’ can inhibit intimacy, whereas lower doses of THC with a more balanced ratio of CBD can heighten sensitivity, promote relaxation and induce pleasure.
New research supports the use of cannabis as a sex aid, suggesting that its use may increase libido, lessen pain during intercourse, and improve orgasm. A study published in Sexual Medicine (2019) found that women who used cannabis before sex were twice as likely as those who did not, to report satisfactory orgasms. The women in the study who used cannabis prior to sex reported an increased sex drive, improved orgasm and a decrease in pain. In a separate study, Stanford researchers examined the relationship between cannabis consumption and frequency of sexual intercourse among 50,000 Americans (aged 25-45), and found that frequent cannabis use didn’t impair motivation or performance, but rather was associated with having more sex – twenty percent more among users than among abstainers.
At the right dose, cannabis can reduce anxiety in users, loosen inhibitions, prolong the sensation of pleasure and reduce pain. Stress, anxiety and pain can all interfere with sexual feelings and desire, and cannabis can have an immediate and profound effect on these inhibitors. Whether you experience painful intercourse, anxiety or fear around intimacy, or simply have difficulty putting the stresses of the day behind you to allow yourself to experience physical pleasure, cannabinoids just might improve your sexual experience.
The question for those of us living in countries or states where cannabis (and therefore THC) use remains illegal, but where CBD is legally available, is whether CBD without the THC can achieve similar effects.
According to a large scale survey of internet buyers, CBD is most commonly used for chronic pain, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders, all of which can take a toll on your sex life. Whilst robust data backing up the use of CBD is difficult to find due to a scarcity of clinical research, there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence on the internet, in print media and in patient self-help groups expounding the benefits of CBD for relaxation, reduced anxiety, reduced pain and improve sleep quality. Preclinical research using animals and cell cultures is starting to support these claims by indicating that CBD may reduce anxiety and help regulate the stress response to fearful memories. Research also suggests that CBD can modulate the inflammatory response and reduce pain.
With more direct reference to sexual activity, we know that CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system, and that this system helps regulate sexual function. We have cannabinoid receptors in our sexual organs and we know that plant cannabinoids and endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced within the body) are associated with the regulation of female reproductive events. Recent research has demonstrated that the endocannabinoid 2-AG is involved in female arousal and orgasm. Because CBD inhibits the breakdown of endocannabinoids, it increases the levels of endocannabinoids 2-AG and anandamide in the body, and may therefore play a central role in improving female sexual responses such as orgasm.
While we wait for the cannabis laws to change and the plant in all its glory to be legally available, CBD could help reduce painful intercourse in women (use a CBD lubricant or balm), enhance sexual desire and pleasure (use edibles, e-liquids, oil or massage oil), and alleviate other conditions such as chronic pain, lack of sleep and anxiety, that may be inhibiting sexual enjoyment.