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Sex and Marijuana

What are the sex effects of marijuana?

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Updated April 16, 2014

Marijuana comes from the hemp plant called cannabis sativa, and has long been considered to have aphrodisiac qualities and various sex effects, both positive and negative. Mention of the sex effects of marijuana can be found in the Arabian Nights, and is recognized in Ayurveda medicine. Marijuana has also been associated with the practice of Tantra.

As you read the pros and cons of marijuana and sex below, keep in mind that drug effects are rarely simple, and there is no true “wonder drug” that will give you every benefit without any drawback (or vice versa). Also, because sex is more than just a physiological process, drugs may impact your psychological and social experience of sex in unpredictable ways.

Does marijuana make sex better?

  • At lower doses, marijuana may alter how you sense and perceive sexual stimuli in ways that enhance sex. People report that their awareness of touch is heightened, and their perception of time can change. So things "feel" better, and sex seems to go on longer as well.
  • For men, marijuana may shift attention away from their usual focus on the penis. In one survey of 800 men, 83 percent found that marijuana enhanced sexual pleasure, but this was unrelated to their erections or ejaculatory control.
  • In another study, 75 percent of men said that marijuana increased sexual pleasure and satisfaction, 68 percent reported that it enhanced their orgasm, and 39 percent found that it increased the duration of intercourse.
  • Women are even more likely than men to report enhanced sexual desire with marijuana use. In one study, 90 percent of women reported that marijuana increased feelings of sexual pleasure and satisfaction to varying degrees, and 40 percent of women reported that marijuana increased the quality of their orgasm.

The Bottom Line: While we don’t know why marijuana has positive effects on sexual satisfaction in men and women, research and anecdotal evidence consistently show that in small doses, there are perceived positive effects. Lab research on animals offers contradictory results.

Does marijuana make sex worse?

  • In both men and women, there is what is called a “dose effect,” which means that the amount of marijuana taken can drastically change the impact. More than one study found that one marijuana cigarette (or joint) can have positive effects while smoking two will have negative sex effects.
  • In higher doses, marijuana can have a depressing effect, which can leave you without the energy to want sex, or the awareness of the way sex is feeling.
  • Some research has found a relationship between long-term use of marijuana is associated with increased erectile dysfunction.
  • Research has suggested that marijuana use is related to a reduction in testosterone. While this may raise some concerns, other researchers point out that the reduction seems reversible, and the levels, even in men where there was a significant reduction, were still considered to be within normal range.
  • Heavy marijuana use in men is linked to lower fertility. One study found that 35 percent of habitual marijuana users were “functionally sterile.”
  • Heavy marijuana use in women has been associated with inhibiting ovulation, and marijuana use during pregnancy can have a variety of harmful developmental effects on the fetus including neurobehavioral and physical abnormalities, as well as increasing the chance of a premature birth.

The Bottom Line: Using marijuana more regularly or habitually is related in men to increased risk of erectile dysfunction, and in men and women it may be linked to overall reduced interest in sex. Marijuana, in higher doses, has detrimental effects on fertility and even in smaller doses can have negative impacts during pregnancy for the fetus.

Sources:

Crenshaw, T.L. and Goldberg, J.P. Sexual PharmacologyNew York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996.

Gorzalka, B.B. and Hill, M.N. “Cannabinoids, Reproduction, and Sexual Behavior” Annual Review of Sex Research Volume 17 (2006): 132-161.

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