Talk about getting into the weeds. A study recently published in the Journal of Cannabis Research came to an interesting conclusion: that cannabis could potentially be used to treat sexual dysfunctions. In the study, which was an online survey of 811 people, over 70% of respondents reported increased sexual desire and orgasm intensity with marijuana use. And over 40% of the women surveyed indicated “increased ability to have more than one orgasm per sexual encounter.” Now, these results may sound dope. But before you ditch the haircut, the candles, the steady paycheck, or anything else that may enhance sexual arousal in favor of the ganja, consider the limitations of this study.
This study entailed administering an online survey to a convenience sample of adults ages 18 years older who had indicated histories of cannabis use. In fact, 62.6% of the respondents reported using cannabis on a daily basis with 59.8% intentionally using cannabis before engaging in sex. Now, this probably wasn’t a typical sample of people. A convenience sample doesn’t mean that these were folks found outside a convenience store. It meant that the research team from East Carolina University (Amanda Moser, MS, Sharon M. Ballard, PhD, and Jake Jensen, PhD) and North Carolina State University (Paige Averett, PhD) simply chose folks who happened to be conveniently available rather than a random sample from all-comers, so to speak. So it’s difficult to tell how biased this sample may have been. Thus, results from this survey may not really represent what the general population might say.
Survey respondents did range in age from 18 to 85 years. But it did skew younger with an average age of 32.11. They were predominantly White (78.9%) and college-educated (80.1%) with 64.9% identifying as female. Close to a quarter (23.1%) of the respondents identified as LGBTQIA+. Nearly three-quarters (73.7%) of the respondents indicated that they were in monogamous sexual relationships.
The survey asked folks a bunch of questions about their cannabis use as well as their sensuality and experiences, functioning, and levels of arousal during sex, including masturbation. This included specific questions about achieving orgasms and maintaining erections and lubrication.
Of the 811 respondents, 601 felt that cannabis either slightly or significantly increases their sexual desire with the such perceptions being higher for women than men. And 582 believed that cannabis slightly or significantly increased the intensity of their orgasms intensity with no clear difference between men and women. Cannabis seemed to help folks feel like they were more masters of their own domain too, so to speak, with a majority of respondents (507 or 62.5%) reporting either slightly or significantly increased pleasure while masturbating.
So did the research team get a sense of what might have been going on here? Well, 71.9% of respondents did report slight or significant increases in the sense of taste with cannabis use. In this case, increases in taste didn’t mean that they started dressing like Anne Hathaway. Rather, they had a heightened sensitivity to tasting things with their tongues and mouths. A similar percentage (71.0%) of respondents reported slight or significant increases in touch.
This also might have been a “relax do do it” situation too as 87.7% of respondents reported slight to significant increases in relaxation during sex. Two tents may be helpful in camping, but being too tense is not going to help you orgasm and enjoy sex. Thus, it would make sense that relaxation could help enhance sex.
Speaking of relaxation, the survey results did address one standing concern that men may have about cannabis and their penises. There is the belief that the muscle relaxation properties of cannabis could decrease the ability of a penis to achieve and maintain an erection. Of course, an erection isn’t a muscle-bound thing. Your penis, if you have one, doesn’t have that much muscle so don’t try lifting a barbell with it. Instead, an erection is a blood fill the corpora cavernosa of the penis like air in a balloon animal thing. Well, based on the survey results, it wasn’t hard to see that cannabis didn’t seem to bring any erection fraud to the respondents. Most of the male respondents indicated no decrease in the ability to achieve (93.4%) or maintain (92.4%) an erection.
Of course, this study was far from avocado toast, meaning that it was far from perfect. Again, it was a convenience sample of cannabis users. So it could have selected for people who already believed that marijuana enhanced their sex lives. As you can imagine, if you already believe that something, like dressing up like Captain America, will aid your sex life, there’s a decent chance that it will via the placebo effect.
Furthermore, survey responses don’t always reflect what people truly feel or experience. Whenever you ask someone a question that includes the word “erection” in it, you may not always get an honest answer. For example, if you were to ask someone in the supermarket, “Where do you keep the cauliflower and are you able to maintain an erection,” chances are you will find the answer to only one of those things.
It would have been more accurate to have directly observed all of the study participants during sex, but that could have been really creepy and resulted in a lot of, “Hey, schmoopie, who’s that person with the tablet in the room with us,” questions followed by, “Oh, it’s just for some study that I signed up so that I could get money to buy you dinner.”
The study also didn’t include any objective measures of arousal and orgasms. These would include physiological data like heart rate and body temperature or the number of times one utters something like, “Don’t stop”, “Oh, my gosh,”, “Oh, Jason Mamoa,” or “linguini” during sex. Uttering “linguini” during sex though could mean that the person is really excited or just really hungry.
Moreover, the survey did not ask about a number of other things that may have affected the sexual experience. For example, there was no sense of what medications and other substances each person was taking. And speaking of marijuana, it wasn’t clear what the person was eating as well. There are other things that can affect sex too such as amount of physical activity, general health, job satisfaction, the presence of a support network, interest in the partners, the number of pillows on the bed, and whether “Slave to Love” by Bryan Ferry was playing in the background.
Finally, the survey didn’t measure the dosage of marijuana used. Naturally, a gram of marijuana would be quite different from 100 metric tons. So, future studies may want to help establish how the dosage of marijuana may relate to the aforementioned effects.
While this study is not the first to show associations between marijuana use and increased sensation and relaxation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should discard other means of increasing sexual excitement and start using marijuana. It’s still not clear what repeated use of marijuana may eventually do to your body. For example, studies have suggested that cannabis use could potentially have long-term effects on your brain, as summarized by the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA). And while sacrificing your brain for your penis and vagina may seem like a fair trade, you should wait for more studies to truly determine what this trade off may be. Nevertheless, this study does raise the possibility that cannabis could eventually be helpful for those with true sexual dysfunction that can’t otherwise be solved. That’s assuming that other options have been weeded out already.
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