Does THC Increase Sexual Desire?

Though it may appear to be ludicrous to claim that marijuana is an aphrodisiac, there’s some scattered evidence that have found some correlation between smoking weed and having a healthy sex life. A Stanford University study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine conducted a survey across demographics measuring sexual activity for marijuana smokers. The researchers found that “a positive association between marijuana use and sexual frequency is seen in men and women across all demographic groups.” In addition, this study found that marijuana doesn’t “appear to impair sexual function.”

Cannabis increases the level of anandamide, which has been euphemistically given the nickname the “bliss molecule.”

Binding to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, anandamide also reduces anxiety and depression, mitigates pain, restores appetite, promotes fertility and even kill cancer cells.

This is one of the reasons people crave chocolate as it contains the obromine which studies have shown to cause the brain to produce more anandamide.

Like anandamide, THC attaches to and activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors so it should come as no surprise then that cannabis has the same effect on the body as anandamide.

“People who use marijuana may have more sex because they put less pressure on themselves when they are high, so they don’t have the same performance anxiety as those who are sober,” suggested sex therapist Amanda Pasciucco, who practices in Connecticut, where medical use is legal. “A small amount of marijuana may also help increase your ability to communicate your preferences to your partner.”

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“Our body’s natural endocannabinoid system is key in regulating things like pleasure, pain, relaxation and homeostasis. When it is activated by the cannabinoids in cannabis, it can leave users feeling relaxed with increased pleasure and decreased pain,” explained Peter Barsoom, founder of a company called 1906, which aims to bring cannabis back to the mainstream. “This can lead to increased arousal and make sex even more enjoyable. For others, the reason is the increased pleasurable sensations that can arise with cannabis. This effect can make sex feel even more enjoyable.”

Most information available about cannabis stems from animal studies. Cannabis contains numerous cannabinoids that might have positive benefits. However, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD are the most popular. CBD, in particular, takes all credit for the medicinal properties of cannabis. Its interaction with the endocannabinoid system can enhance various body functions that, in turn, improve sexual drive and performance.

The sociology department at the University of California Santa Barbara has stated that while people sometimes feel aroused after consuming cannabis, most of the time they fall somewhere in between. Whether or not someone feels aroused may depend on particular strains or the mood a person is in at the time, though only anecdotal evidence exists to support this argument. However, the informal poll by Psychology Today showed that 67% of respondents felt cannabis enhanced their sex lives. 20% claimed it depended entirely on the circumstances at the time.

A 2013 study published in the Frontiers of Endocrinology found low doses of THC to significantly increase testosterone levels in mice while high doses of THC caused testosterone levels to drop below the testosterone levels found in mice not given THC.

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Of course people are not mice and many other factors affect sexual performance in people that are not found in mice. How you feel about the person you are with plays a very significant role as well as the setting in which sex occurs.

A more recent study (that received plenty of headlines), published in 2017 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, used data from the large nationally representative National Survey of Family Growth. Rather than asking people anything about how their sex lives interact with their drug use, the researchers here simply correlated participants’ self-reported frequency of cannabis use with the frequency that they reported having sex.

They found that people who reported using cannabis monthly, weekly, or daily also reported slightly more frequent sex than those who never smoked. (Women who used cannabis daily had an average of 7.1 sexual encounters in the previous four weeks compared to 6 for those who never used it.)

Dr. Lester Grinspoon, the world’s most widely published author regarding the medical application of cannabis, noted “are you afraid you’re going to have a knock on the door and the cops will come in? Those things influence the high. So part of the set in having a sexual experience is how the people feel about each other.”

Enhancing feelings of camaraderie and bonding has always been a hallmark of communal cannabis consumption so enhanced feelings of affection and lust between stoned lovers is to be expected and enjoyed. So, next time instead of eating oysters with bae to get in the mood, smoke a joint instead. But maybe still have the oysters because we all know the munchies are a real struggle.

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