Is Marijuana Sex-Enhancing? Or Sex-Killing?
Special to The 420 Times
By Michael Castleman
Alcohol, pharmaceutical and recreational drugs, —you name it, their effects on sex are well-documented and generally quite predictable. The exception is marijuana. Its sexual effects are all over the map, from “I can’t stand having sex stoned,” to “I never have sex without it.”
Those who call marijuana sex-inhibiting typically report that it pulls them so deeply inside themselves that they lose their sense of connection to their partner and to lovemaking. Meanwhile those who call marijuana sex-enhancing usually say that it boosts their desire, enhances enjoyment of sensual touch, helps them feel closer to their partner, and adds to overall sexual pleasure and satisfaction.
For the past 40 years, scientists have tried to pin down weed’s sexual effects. The first study, in the mid-1970s was… how can I put this delicately? —ridiculous. It showed that marijuana reduces blood levels of the sex hormone testosterone by up to 50 percent. Because testosterone fuels sex drive in both men and women (yes, women produce male sex hormones), the researchers said this could cause libido loss. This study was widely reported in the news media and trumpeted by law enforcement and government officials. It’s still cited today.
But it was totally wrong. It triggered a flurry of reports on marijuana and testosterone that were published in the late 1970s. These studies—and there were several—showed no significant suppression of testosterone induced by marijuana, and no significant loss of libido or sexual impairment in lovers who used it, even frequent users.
Things became more realistic in the 1980s, when several studies showed that pot’s effects on lovemaking are all over the map, from strongly sex-inhibiting to strongly sex-enhancing, but most people reported enhancement. The best report, based on interviews with 97 adults in Kansas City, showed that “more than two-thirds of subjects reported increased sexual pleasure and satisfaction with marijuana use. About half of both sexes also reported increased sexual desire while using marijuana. Emotional closeness and physical enjoyment of snuggling were also enhanced.” But one-third said the drug was not sex-enhancing, and half reported no increase in desire. [Weller, RA and JA Halikas, “Marijuana Use and Sexual Behavior,” Journal of Sex Research (1984) 20:186.]
That was pretty much where things stood for 20 years.
Then, in 2003, Canadian researchers interviewed 104 Toronto adults about their reactions to marijuana. Did it increase libido?
One-quarter said it “often” or “always” did, 40 percent said “sometimes,” and one-third said it “seldom” or “never” enhanced their sexual desire. About half called the drug sex-enhancing, but half said it was not. One-third said sexual enhancement was a key reason they used weed, but half said sex played little, if any, role in their use of the drug. [Hathaway, AD, “Cannabis Effects and Dependency Concerns in Long-Term Frequent Users,” Addiction Research and Theory (2003) 11:441]
In 2008, another Canadian team interviewed 41 adults. About half said marijuana boosted their libidos, increased sensitivity to touch, and enhanced erotic pleasure. But half said it did not. [Osborne GB and C Fogel. “Understanding the Motivations for Recreational Marijuana Use Among Canadians,” Substance Use and Misuse (2008) 43:539]
As it happens, I write a sexuality blog (“All About Sex” for PsychologyToday.com), and some months ago, I put this question to my readers: How does marijuana affect your sex life?
Marijuana enhances sex: 67%
• “I’m not a frequent smoker, but when I have smoked and then had sex, its been the most amazing sex of my life.”
• “Marijuana engulfs me in sex foam. I’m just pure sex on that stuff. It’s great. I could never feel that way sober or drunk.”
• “Definitely enhances sex. A few tokes make me feel horny the vast majority of the time, and it makes the whole experience much more enjoyable.”
• “Cannabis is soooo good for sex that sometimes it can become awkward because the woman might get the wrong idea…”
Marijuana destroys sex: 12%
• “My boyfriend and I have smoked (fairly heavily) for the past year and I would say that it 100% has a terrible effect on our sex life. It’s been a huge libido killer for our relationship.”
• “As I’ve continued to use marijuana (been almost 5 years smoking now) it’s inhibited sex for me more and more.”
It depends on the dose, strain,
and one’s mood: 20%
• “The effects of marijuana strongly relate to how a person is feeling prior to smoking. If I’m in a bad mood and smoke, sex is completely out of the question because, as stated above, I become too “inward” and just can’t connect with someone else. On the other hand, if my beau and I have had a great night out and top it off with a bowl, it’s definitely got its merits.”
• Contrary to popular belief not all buds are alike. Some of it makes you want to be very sexual and I’ve had some of the best orgasms of my life after using marijuana. Some of it makes you feel more introverted and thoughtful. Perhaps you should consider that like any drug, there are variations of it that give different responses.”
• “I find that indica shortly before sex is just unbeatable for mind blowing lovemaking. Sativa should be avoided as it’s cerebral nature will make your mind wander.”
Now, these comments come from is a self-selected pool, so I make no claim that the comments to my blog post are representative. But they show that marijuana’s sexual effects are, indeed, unpredictable. Of course, many drugs have multiple effects, typically, a major action and then side effects. But compared to most drugs—and all other recreational drugs—weed seems to have a wider range of effects.
What do you think? How does marijuana affect your sex life?