The science behind combining cannabis and sex

Scientific studies tell us what we've known for thousands of years: cannabis and sex is a fantastic combination. Here's why.

When Foria created a cannabis-infused lubricant, it was met with a lot of praise, amusement, and press coverage. It wasn’t the first time people combined cannabis and sex to enhance pleasure, though: humans have been using cannabis to enhance sexual pleasure for thousands of years.

The science seems to show that our ancestors were onto something: cannabis really can enhance sexual pleasure.

More and more people use cannabis to enhance sex

Evidence shows that people used cannabis as an aphrodisiac in India as early as the 7th century. Other evidence shows that people have traditionally combined cannabis and sex in western Uganda, Russia, and Scandinavia.

It seems that we’ve carried this knowledge with us over the centuries –  many people still use cannabis to enhance their sexual experience.

An informal poll on Psychology Today showed that 67% of respondents said that marijuana enhances sex. 12% of participants said that it destroys sex, and 20% said that it depends on the strain, dosage and their mood.

In a study cited in LiveAbout.com, 75% of men said that marijuana increased sexual pleasure, while 68% reported that it enhanced their orgasm. In another survey of 800 men, 83% believed marijuana enhanced sexual pleasure. Another survey showed that 90% of female participants found that marijuana increased their sexual pleasure.

Sex, our endocannabinoid system, and you

So what exactly makes cannabis and sex such a fantastic combination?

Cannabis works by releasing cannabinoids into our bodies. Cannabinoids are the active ‘ingredients’ in cannabis. They interact with our endocannabinoid system, which in turn affects how our body works and feels.

Our endocannabinoid system is found in many different parts of our body, and our skin and sex organs respond to cannabinoids. This means that the endocannabinoid system can play a large role in our sexual experiences.

Firstly, marijuana improves your general mood, which is important in increasing desire. It does this by increasing the production of ‘happiness molecules’ in one’s system. The cannabinoid THC stimulates the release of dopamine, the ‘happiness molecule’, and anandamide, the ‘bliss molecule’. Both hormones improve your mood and help you relax, getting you into a good mindset for sex. Reducing stress is always an important part of improving sexual experience – after all, it’s hard to enjoy sex when your mind is elsewhere.

Secondly, THC also stimulates the release of testosterone – a hormone that contributes to arousal – making THC a key aphrodisiac ingredient in cannabis.

Lastly, tactile sensations feel way better when we’re high. Cannabis stimulates the CB1 receptor, which deeply affects our sensory experience. When the receptor meets cannabinoids, it improves our mood and the way we experience tactile sensations. Touch is a lot more pleasurable and noticeable. This makes it easier to get aroused, stay aroused, and reach orgasm.

Many studies have shown that cannabis, when consumed in low to moderate doses, can enhance one’s sexual experience by increasing your sexual desire. If taken in high doses, it can actually decrease your sexual desire. In this case, less is more, and microdosing cannabis might be a good idea!

The downside of combining cannabis and sex

Of course, cannabis and sex isn’t always a great combination. Many people might find that certain strains reduce their sexual desire. Everyone has a different reaction, and every strain has a different effect.

Cannabis can also cause vaginal dryness. In an article for Vice, Dr Julie Holland explains that this phenomenon – sometimes called ‘cotton vagina’ – occurs because weed can dry out our mucus membranes. This is the same reason why we get ‘cotton mouth’, too. “I do think it’s important to say its variable, and it’s personal,” Dr Holland says. “Each person responds differently to pot and each strain acts differently. You’re not going to have a lot of consistency.” That said, it’s nothing that lubricant can’t sort out.

An Australian study published in 2009 indicated another downside of combining cannabis and sex: many of their male participants said it negatively impacted their orgasm. Many participants either felt that they reached orgasm too quickly, too slowly, or not at all.

How to (successfully) combine cannabis and sex

There are a number of topical cannabis-infused sexual products. Foria, the same company that created cannabis-infused lube, has created a few of these products.  They’ve recently released cannabis-enhanced anal suppository called ‘Explore’. According to a Complex article, Explore enhances anal sex by increasing sensations and relaxing the anal area.

Plenty of couples also prefer to ingest weed instead of applying it topically. Vaping or smoking weed, or eating edibles and using tinctures, is a great way to get both a ‘head high’ and a ‘body high’. If you like the way weed makes your mind feel, or if you’re looking for a whole-body sensation, this might be a better approach for you!

As mentioned before, the strain you use makes a big difference on your sexual experience. The only way to figure out what works for you is to experiment and practice.

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