High levels of cannabis can lead to a variety of consequences, including psychological and physical problems. Many people who use cannabis report that it improves their sex life. However, we often underestimate how much cannabis can enrich the sexual experience.
How can cannabis enhance the quality of sex if used with skill and knowledge under the right conditions? My short answer is that there are many other ways that are not usually mentioned. Cannabis and sex go well together.
Even experts often underestimate the vast range of psychological effects caused by marijuana. I call this range the psychological “bouquet of effects” of getting high. Getting high affects many cognitive and physiological functions, from episodic memory, attention, and pattern recognition, to changes in our perception of time, sense of our own bodies, imagination, creative thinking, and empathic feeling.
Each of these functions can play a key role in enhancing sexual interactions. Thus, let me give you a brief overview of the many ways in which these effects can enhance the sexual experience.
The sexual effect of THC
Cannabis has been used for thousands of years for a variety of purposes, and many cultures and subcultures around the world have studied its effects on sexuality for centuries. In the northern Himalayan region and India, cannabis has been used since ancient times in shamanic practices. In some branches of the tantric sexual tradition, cannabis has been used to induce a meditative state, to direct the mind to the “here and now” and ultimately to achieve enlightenment through sexual practices. These ancient methods of using cannabis go far beyond our modern understanding of the potential of sexual experience and the possibilities of cannabis to enhance it.
However, even without tantric knowledge, many modern cannabis users note that they have found a variety of ways to use cannabis to enhance their sex lives. While under the influence of cannabis, they focus on the present moment and relax, forgetting about past conflicts with their partner or upcoming exams. In this state they focus on their body and their partner, his or her current needs, aspirations and desires. Their attention often shifts to physical sensations. These sensations are intensified and perceived more intensely; kisses, scents, caresses – everything becomes more vivid and detailed.
You seem to be separated from the past and the future, immersed in the present moment. Time seems to slow down during the peak of cannabis exposure. As Carl Sagan once noted, this perception of slowing down time leads to a prolonged feeling of orgasm and, I might add, a longer perception of the entire sexual experience.
How do we feel?
During intense intoxication with a significant dose of cannabis, users often report “visual journeys. Nevertheless, even moderate marijuana use can enhance the imagination. Imagination plays a key role in sex, but when discussing cannabis and sex, commentators often omit mention of this enhancement while intoxicated.
Moreover, many cannabis users describe an enhanced ability to recognize images while intoxicated. They notice a strict consistency in their walking style or a tendency toward defensive behavior in their chess opponent. During sexual intercourse, enhanced pattern recognition can be helpful in a number of ways.
It can help you better identify your partner’s mood by their body language or recognize a monotonous sexual routine that you and your partner have been in for a while, which then helps to overcome that routine.
Some users have noted that they become too introverted during sex, which is definitely not helpful. Dosage, skills, mood, attitude and context seem to play a key role in this.
For many others, however, intoxication not only evokes a strong sense of intimacy, but also leads to a really deeper empathic understanding of the other’s character, needs and desires, based on various patterns of partner body language, intonation of words or facial expressions. This reinforcement of empathic understanding is fundamental to sex, which is like a dance, a form of communication that constantly requires new collaborative explorations and exciting discoveries.
This leads us to another major effect of intoxication: increased creativity. During love games, cannabis users often break the routine and get creative. In addition, intoxication can have an anxiolytic effect that helps overcome moral and other inhibitions. This can be a key factor in immersing oneself in a true energetic sexual flow.
What does the research tell us?
Much of the information about the connection between cannabis and sex is based on self-reports. Given that cannabis is used to reduce troggy and pain, we can assume that the plant indirectly improves some people’s sexual experience by affecting these problems. However, there is little direct research linking cannabis to sexual pleasure.
Because cannabis is a Schedule 1 drug in the U.S., it is difficult to study under controlled conditions. For example, you cannot simply give participants marijuana and measure changes in their sexual habits. Most researchers in the U.S. cannot conduct such experiments because the use of real compounds requires special drug approvals, which are historically difficult to obtain.
Because of this, researchers often resort to self-report surveys, where participants are asked to talk about their drug use and sexual experiences to get an overall picture. However, this approach has several drawbacks.
For example, one has to rely on people remembering exactly how much and how often they used certain substances and how these substances affected their sex life.
Researchers also cannot obtain information provided by respondents. Researchers cannot analyze the drug people use to determine its actual composition (cannabis quality, terpenes content, THC content, etc.), and they must rely on them and their subjects using common terms and definitions to describe subjective experiences.
In 1979 a study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in which a group of 84 graduate students (78% of whom were men) were asked about the relationship between cannabis and sex. Those who had direct experience with the topic (39%) were asked to respond from this perspective. While the groups agreed that cannabis increases overall sexual pleasure, only those who were “experienced smokers” strongly agreed that it increases the intensity of the orgasm and that it should be considered an aphrodisiac. However, this study included a small number of participants, most of whom were young men. Therefore, it is unclear how well these results reflect the experiences of people outside these groups.
In 1984, the Journal of Sex Research published another study in which researchers interviewed college students (62 percent male). The study yielded similar results: most participants reported that cannabis improved some aspects of sex, but they added a few interesting details.
In this study it was found that 58% of men reported an improvement in the quality of their orgasms when using cannabis, while only 32% of women reported this effect. However, the results showed that men and women rated the increase in desire for sex with their partner (50% of men and 60% of women), the increase in sexual pleasure and satisfaction (70% of men and 76% of women) and the improved sensation of touch (59% of men and 57% of women) approximately the same. Note also that only 34% of the men reported an increased desire to snuggle when using cannabis while 56% of the women confirmed this effect.
It is worth noting that this study was conducted on a small sample of participants, most of whom were men. Therefore, the results may not accurately reflect the feelings and opinions of women in general.
A 2017 study was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine that used data from a large, nationally representative National Survey of Family Growth. Unlike the previous study, where participants were asked about the relationship between drug use and their sex lives, the researchers simply compared the frequency of marijuana use reported by participants to the frequency they reported having sex.
The results showed that people who used cannabis monthly, weekly or daily had slightly more frequent sex than those who never did. For example, women who used cannabis daily had an average of 7.1 sexual contacts in the previous four weeks, while those who never used cannabis had only 6 contacts. However, these results cannot answer the question of whether cannabis use is associated with pleasure or satisfaction in sexual experiences.
Although this study involved a large number of participants, the researchers had to work with data that had already been collected, meaning that the original survey was not designed to answer the questions the researchers asked here. Another study of the same magnitude, using specially designed questions to examine the relationship between cannabis use and sex, could theoretically yield more accurate results, but still could not tell us why people responded the way they did.
In conclusion, it can be argued that there are many effects present during intoxication that can greatly enhance the sexual experience. During sex, you experience varied and unique altered consciousness effects, peaking in orgasm. The combination of these emotional and mental changes can give a new level of experience.
Are there other, more immediate physiological ways in which cannabis can affect the experience of sex? Regarding modes of use: can topical or oral use have effects, and if so, are they different? Despite plenty of hard data on the aphrodisiac-associated effects of marijuana, we have not yet begun to explore how effective its topical use can be.
However, if we want to better understand how cannabis can be good for sex, based on the research we have done, we need to further investigate the environmental effects of marijuana. Cannabis contains over 100 cannabinoids, over 150 terpenes and some flavonoids which interact synergistically and create a variety of sensations through the “entourage effect”.
The unique “set of effects” of cannabis described above differs significantly for each variety of cannabis and depends on its specific composition. Users will have to determine which variety best suits their needs. Meanwhile, some breeders are trying to create specialized “sexy” varieties of cannabis.
Who knows, maybe some tantric herbalists created the most incredible varieties for sex a long time ago that we just haven’t discovered yet. But one thing is for sure; we all have an enjoyable journey ahead of us if we can and want to try it, a journey that began thousands of years ago.