Dr. David Pompei, PharmD, MS
Cannabis has a long tradition as an aphrodisiac, but many people are just now discovering the intimacy enhancing benefits of cannabis and CBD products. Is cannabis or CBD the right choice to help you enhance your intimate moments? Jointly can help you find out, but first let’s review what is known about cannabis, CBD and intimacy!
It could mean a married couple looking to add a bit of creativity to their bedroom experience by sampling a cannabis-infused chocolate; a first date made more intimate and playful with a few hits from a cannabis oil cartridge; or a young woman who finds that consuming a small dose of THC makes it easier for her to reach orgasm in her solo sessions.
Various traditional medicine systems have prized cannabis as an aphrodisiac. In 1965, Shri Dwarakanath, the Adviser in Indigenous Systems of Medicine for the Government of India, described numerous Ayurvedic formulations that contained cannabis and were prescribed in rural areas as aphrodisiacs.
Dwarakanath noted these cannabis-based aphrodisiacs were found in both the Ayurvedic and Arab medical traditions in India, and seem to have been used for hundreds of years. Evidently, humans have long known about the intimacy-enhancing qualities of cannabis.
But according to Nick Karras, a sexologist who has informally studied the effect of cannabis on people’s sex lives, “Dosing is essential when it comes to cannabis. Consume too much THC, and you may develop a closer relationship with your couch than your partner.”
A counselor of Ayurvedic medicine, Biljana Dušić, MD, seconded this notion: in the Ayurvedic tradition a small to moderate amount of cannabis is considered a powerful aphrodisiac, but habitual, heavy use of cannabis leads to a loss of sexual desire. For Enhancing Intimacy, it’s probably best to start with a small dose.
Due to federal prohibition on cannabis, there is not enough research into cannabis, CBD and how it impacts sex or intimacy to state any firm conclusions. However, there have been several surveys and self-reporting studies that looked at how cannabis affected sexual frequency or subjective experience.
In 2017, researchers at Stanford University conducted a survey of more than 50,000 adults, and found that cannabis use is associated with increased sexual frequency and that it does not appear to impair sexual function.
In 2018, researchers conducted an analysis of self-reported sexual effects of marijuana in a small group of men and women aged 18-25, and found that “the majority of marijuana users reported an increase in sexual enjoyment and orgasm intensity, as well as either an increase or no change in desire.”
Another small survey of men and women explored how cannabis alters people’s sexual experience. The researchers found that 38.7% said sex was better under the influence of cannabis, 58.9% said cannabis increased their desire for sex, 73.8% reported increased sexual satisfaction, 74.3% reported an increased sensitivity to touch, 65.7% reported an increased intensity of orgasms and 69.8% said they could relax more during sex.
While those results are fairly compelling, it was only conducted on a few hundred participants who responded to an advertisement, so it is unknown if these results can be generalized.
The scientific literature indicates that both men and women can experience a subjective improvement in sexual experiences when they use cannabis, but there is quite a bit of research that the effect of cannabis on sexual function varies based on biological sex.
For females, the research has “almost consistently suggested a facilitatory effect of cannabis on subjective indices of sexual function.”
A study published in July of 2020 looked at whether the frequency of cannabis use, the chemovar (whether it has THC, CBD or both) or the method of consumption had an effect on female sexual function among cannabis users. They found that increased marijuana use was associated with improved sexual function in females, and that chemovar type, method of consumption and reason for use did not impact the outcome.
A 2019 study explored how cannabis use prior to sex affected female sexual function and found that “with any use, the majority of women perceived improvement in overall experience, sex drive, orgasm and pain.” The science on how cannabis affects sexual function in males is less conclusive.
A literature review published in 2011 found contradictory results between studies, and called for “renewed use of research resources” to learn how cannabis affects male sexual function. For example, while many studies have found that cannabis adversely affects male erectile function, a large ten-year study of nearly 8,000 men published in 2021 found higher rates of ED in cannabis non-users compared to cannabis users.
Some studies looking at male and female sexual function found a negative physiological effect of cannabis, but a positive subjective effect. For example, in males “it appears cannabis may actually have peripheral antagonizing effects on erectile function by stimulating specific receptors.” That means that cannabis could contribute to erectile dysfunction in males.
And in females, “cannabinoid receptor agonists, such as cannabis, may impair sexual arousal.”
Studies often focus on sexual arousal because there is a method for objectively measuring physiological arousal, whereas there is not an objective way to measure sexual desire.
Researchers discussing the difference between subjective and objective measures of sexual function stated, “While individuals may report enhanced sexual functioning while under the influence of certain substances, these substances are…often associated decreased physiological sexual functioning.”
Of course, if people feel their intimate experiences are better when facilitated by cannabis or CBD, the objective physiological markers may not be as relevant.
In contrast to the conclusions above, a small, informal survey was conducted between Eaze, a cannabis delivery service, and Lioness, a climax-tracking vibrator, on several hundred users consisting of all genders and gender-non-conforming users.
The Eaze-Lioness survey tracked the physiological markers of orgasm length and frequency. The survey found that “cannabis can increase the length, frequency, and quality of your orgasms and pleasure sessions whether you’re single or married, solo or with a partner, young adult or silver fox.”
Of course, this survey was not a scientifically rigorous study and more formal research is needed before any conclusions can be drawn. However, many couples have found that consuming cannabis can enhance their intimate experiences, and the science supports it.
A 2019 study looked at 183 heterosexual, frequent marijuana-using couples, and found that using marijuana together, or individually but in the presence of the partner, increased the likelihood of the couple sharing an intimate experience within 2 hours of consumption. When couples used cannabis separately and alone (not in the presence of their partner), there was no increase in the likelihood of intimacy.
The researchers concluded, “marijuana use is associated with increased experiences of intimacy, love, caring or support with one’s intimate partner in the next 2 hours.” They suggested it was plausible that subjective feelings of relaxation, happiness, and wellbeing after cannabis use led the couples to “experience—or perceive—intimacy” with their partner.
The endocannabinoid system plays a central role in “controlling reproductive function in mammals and humans,” and the cannabinoid receptor has been mapped to areas of the brain that play a role in sexual function.
While it is clear that the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in sexual function, there are various other ways that cannabis or CBD could help people enhance their intimate experiences. Scientists have postulated that the reason cannabis enhances sex and intimacy could be that cannabis use lowers stress and anxiety, and decreases pain associated with sex.
Intimacy-enhancing benefits could also be due to the way cannabis slows down the perception of time, thus prolonging sensations of pleasure or the way cannabis heightens the senses and changes sensory perception. Whatever the mechanism of action, many people have found that cannabis and intimacy are natural bedfellows.
The scientific literature holds a wide range of findings, some of which seem contradictory. It is likely that cannabis affects different people differently, and that various factors such as stomach status could impact cannabis users’ experiences. So how can you find out if cannabis or CBD is the right choice for you to enhance your intimate experiences?
Use Jointly to learn if cannabis and CBD can help you achieve your wellness goals. Jointly helps you to track and record your CBD and cannabis consumption, including the dose, time of use, composition of the cannabis product, and various other factors that can influence your experience. As you track your cannabis consumption on Jointly, you will learn about the factors that can impact your cannabis experience and how to eliminate side effects.
Perhaps you will discover that a low-dose edible with a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD is best for you, but your partner finds the best intimacy-enhancing results when consuming a higher dose of pure THC. You need to track and record your cannabis consumption on Jointly to learn that important difference. When you use Jointly, you are actually rating how well a product helped you achieve your wellness goal.
Looking for products to help you enhance your intimate experiences? Brands and manufacturers have designed a vast range of legal cannabis and CBD products for this exact purpose: THC or CBD-infused lubricants and intimacy oils; fast-acting edibles for couples; tinctures specially formulated to enhance pleasure; cannabis massage candles that melt into topicals.
Jointly is a cannabis discovery app that makes it easy to find and match with the best cannabis and CBD products for your goals. Your matches are calculated from the real product ratings and experiences of hundreds of thousands of people using the Jointly app.
With Jointly, match with top-rated products, and build lists of your favorites to save, share, and bring to your local dispensary to help guide your shopping experience.
Jointly also helps you track your cannabis experiences through reflections that help you understand what’s working, and what’s not. In fact, the quality of your diet, how much you slept, who you’re with, and the time of day are just some of the factors that can impact your experiences.