Pot smokers most often label marijuana as sex-enhancing. But there are marijuana researchers who report studies that find that marijuana enhances sexual activity, and there are marijuana users who report that use of the drug enhances their sex lives.
Experts and Marijuana Users Disagree
Scientists most often label marijuana as sex-inhibiting. Pot smokers most often label marijuana as sex-enhancing. But there are marijuana researchers who report studies that find that marijuana enhances sexual activity, and there are marijuana users who report that use of the drug enhances their sex lives, inhibits their sex lives, or has no effect on their sex lives at all.
The scientific data on marijuana and libido are all over the map. But there are common sense reasons that one individual might find marijuana to be a turn-on and another might it to be a turn-off.
Marijuana and the Female Libido
When marijuana researchers refer to sexual difficulties caused by marijuana use in women, they are most likely to be referring to failures of ovulation, reduced likelihood of pregnancy even if a child is conceived (due to changes in the receptivity of the lining of the uterus to the embryo), and disruptions of the menstrual cycle. They are less likely to be referring to difficulties in achieving orgasm or loss of interest in sex.
There is some science to suggest that the endocannabinoids in marijuana may reduce genital arousal in women. Smoking marijuana has been suggested as a treatment for a condition known as persistent genital arousal disorder in women, which is most likely to occur in women who have bipolar disorder or who have suddenly stopped taking antidepressants.
But in most women genital arousal is only part of sexual stimulation. Disinhibition regarding touch may allow a woman to feel aroused along all of her erogenous zones, not just the obvious body parts such as the vagina and the breasts. Many women are stimulated on the midline of the abdomen, the nose, the indentation at the upper lip, the crown of the head, and the tip of the tongue.
Some women find that their sexual energy is too "hot" to control when they do not use marijuana or a similar calming drug. They find that their libido is manageable when they smoke pot. There are women who smoke pot prior to sex in part to feel more in charge of their lovemaking.
Is Marijuana a Negative or a Positive in Women's Sex Lives?
Despite what experts warn, many women report that their sex lives are enhanced by the occasional use of marijuana. Regular use of marijuana, on the other hand, may be a major turn-off. As one woman put it:
"When we (the woman and her husband) first tried smoking pot before making love, it made every touch an ecstatic experience. But over the two years since my husband lost his job and started just sitting around the house smoking grass all day, the very sight of him makes me nauseous."
Or as one man described his relationship, "When we're tokin', there ain't no pokin'."
The short-term effects of marijuana use on sexual enjoyment by women depend on whether dropping inhibitions are relevant to her sexual enjoyment. Not every woman needs to be disinhibited. The long-term effects of marijuana on sexual enjoyment by women are tied in to a number of factors that are not related to the biological effects of the drug, such as whether she and her partner can pay their bills.
Men, Sex, and Marijuana
Marijuana and beer have very similar effects on male testosterone levels—they both lower them. The hops used to flavor beer even contain natural 17-beta-estradiol, which can cause a condition known in Germany as "beer drinker's droop." Some men also have trouble achieving erections after smoking pot. But other men report that smoking marijuana gives them extra power in the bedroom. How can both sets of stories be true?
The simple fact is that people don't always tell sex researchers the truth about their sex lives. However, physiologists also know that a chemical in marijuana called cannabigerol can increase the force of ejaculation and the intensity of orgasm.
Cannabigerol "kicks in" several hours after the tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) in marijuana makes the smoker high and gives them the "munchies." In addition to increasing the intensity of orgasm, this chemical:
• Reduces the need for sociability. Men are less inclined to indulge in foreplay or conversation.
• Makes men less likely to act impulsively. They will be more in control of their sexual activities, but they will also be more response to rituals in their lovemaking. They will want to repeat other sexual encounters in the same way.
• Increases basal metabolic rate. Men become literally "hotter" and more energetic—after the initial effects of the drug wear off.
In a heterosexual couple, marijuana has different effects at different times for the different partners. Women become less inhibited shortly after smoking the drug. This may enable them to enjoy more whole-body stimulation (or it may be unnecessary).
While women are becoming receptive, men are simply getting stoned. Any increased sexual intensity for them occurs after the disinhibitive effects have already worn off for the female partner.
This site is not going to give anyone specific tips on how to use marijuana more effectively for lovemaking. (We don't want the US Drug Enforcement Agency taking a special interest in our work.) And actually, there are no hard and fast scientific rules concerning whose lovemaking might get a bigger boost and when.
The bottom line is that men and women react to marijuana differently. The drug can help them overcome shyness when they are first together, but it can cause them to be out of sync as they get to know each other better. When the habit of smoking marijuana begins to interfere with work, finances, residential upkeep, or personal hygiene, then it tends to be a definite turn-off to good sex.
What about other, legal aphrodisiacs?
The best aphrodisiac for both men and women is exercise. An Italian study of men taking Viagra found that getting 200 minutes of outdoor exercise a week increased erectile strength, sexual confidence, satisfaction with intercourse, and general satisfaction with life.
For women, however, the exercise that most increases interest in sex is foreplay—especially on the days nearest to the midpoint of the menstrual cycle (when a woman is most likely to get pregnant). Creative physical activities that lead to the boudoir are most likely to enhance the female partner's enjoyment of sex.
People don't get arrested for exercise. They don't have to buy it from a shady dealer. Exercise does not ruin promising careers. If marijuana has not enhanced your sex life, try something different. Physical activity can improve your health and improve your lovemaking.