Cannabis, erectile dysfunction, and sexual performance
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The relationship between weed, erectile dysfunction and sexual performance is a hot topic for cannabis users. Both men and women have noted that cannabis undoubtedly seems to affect their ability to both have and enjoy sex.
For some, weed is a great sexual stimulant. For others, it’s a complete buzzkill. How exactly does weed affect sexual performance?
HOW DOES CANNABIS AFFECT SEXUAL PERFORMANCE?
The answer to this question is far from clear. Ask cannabis users about how weed affects their performance in “the sack” and you’ll get completely contrasting answers:
Some might tell you that smoking weed helps their sexual performance, not only increasing their level of desire but also making them “last longer.” Others might tell you sex “feels better” when they’re high, while more than a few will tell you that weed actually inhibits their sexual performance, especially their ability to get or maintain an erection, climax, or simply get “in the zone.”
CANNABIS AND ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION
Unfortunately, their is only a very limited body of evidence examining the relationship between cannabis use and sexual performance. And the few studies/surveys that exist on this topic do little to clear the fog.
A paper published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs in 2012 noted that most men describe cannabis as a sexual stimulant, increasing their desire to hop in the sheets. However, the same article also noted evidence that suggested cannabis use caused potency problems, lowered sperm count, and lower levels of testosterone (which is often associated with erectile dysfunction).
Another paper published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2010 noted that animal and in vitro studies raised similar concerns. The authors of the paper (researchers from University of Ottawa, Queen’s University, and Cairo University) noted that some of the compounds in cannabis might actually have antagonizing effects on receptors in the erectile tissue of the penis, possibly causing erectile dysfunction.
While the results from these papers are interesting, they are far from enough to warrant forming concrete conclusions about how cannabis affects sexual performance.
HOW DOES CANNABIS AFFECT SEXUAL PERFORMANCE IN WOMEN?
Let’s not forget that men aren’t the only ones affected by sexual performance issues. While women obviously do not suffer from erectile dysfunction, they can suffer from a variety of issues that impede their ability to have and enjoy sex.
Again, not a lot of research has looked at this (close to none, actually). However, in 2015 Vice reporter Sophie Saint Thomas interviewed Dr Judie Holland, psychiatrist and author of “Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You're Taking, the Sleep You're Missing, the Sex You're Not Having and What's Really Making You Crazy” about the effect of cannabis on women in the bedroom.
More specifically, the article focused on vaginal dryness, and Dr Holland explained that, just like cannabis can affect mucus membranes in the mouth to cause dry mouth, it can also affect mucus membranes in the vagina, ultimately hindering its ability to self-lubricate.
“Not all pot is going to give you dry mouth, but if you have had a strain that is giving you dry mouth, it will also make you more dry [down there],” said Dr Holland.
THE IMPORTANCE OF VARIABLES
It is important to consider a number of variables when we think about cannabis and how it might affect sexual performance.
Dosing, for one, is extremely important. Think about alcohol; in small doses, alcohol can help lower inhibitions and increase feelings of desire, which might ultimately help get you in the mood to get between the sheets.
However, in large doses, alcohol not only makes you less coordinated but can also cause issues like erectile dysfunction, difficulty reaching orgasm, or other symptoms like nausea and vomiting which also impede on your ability to have and enjoy sex.
Besides dosing, it is also important to remember that people react differently to drugs like cannabis, just like they do with alcohol.
We all know someone who’s a loose cannon after only 1 or 2 drinks. However, most of us probably also know people who, regardless of how many bottles they down, seem calm and collected.
The same goes for cannabis; while weed makes some people calm, happy, and horny, it might leave others feeling nauseous, anxious, or paranoid. This comes down to a person’s individual reaction to cannabis, as well as the strain they’re using.
“There are some strains of cannabis that help you get in your body and more aware of your body, but there are some strains that make you more in your head, more critical. You really need to experiment a bit to find what works for you,” said Dr Holland.
WHEN WILL WE SEE MORE RESEARCH ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN WEED AND SEX?
In her interview with Vice, Dr Holland made it clear that little scientific research will likely explore the relationship between cannabis use and sexual performance.
“Think about what drives research. Drug companies pay for research so they can develop new drugs, and the government pays for research if something is dangerous. This is a situation where no one is going to do research on this. There's no need, and there's no money in it,” she said.
This is the unfortunate reality of the medical research industry. So, while readers like you might be interested in the relationship between weed and sexual function, it isn’t a high priority for drug companies and governmental researchers, so don’t expect to hear a lot on this topic in the future.