The cannabinoid family is capable of influencing nearly every aspect of waking life. This massive range of applications, paired with anecdotal evidence linked to cannabis and libido, has led researchers to wonder if these compounds can offer anything tangible in the way of improving sexual experiences. It’s time to dive into the existing data behind cannabinoids and aphrodisiacs in order to uncover what exactly the cannabinoid family brings to the table when it comes sex and pleasure.
Cannabis Use in the Context of Sex
There is no shortage of existing cannabinoid products that claim some sex-related benefit. Broadly speaking, they exist in two distinct categories: products that aim to address sexual performance issues, and products that are meant to enhance the existing romance. This is important, because the chemistry behind these separate issues is vastly different.
Sexual performance issues, most commonly related to lack of libido, overwhelmingly affects older men and women, for whom natural hormones have begun to naturally decline. Artificially propping up sexual appetite requires powerful medical products, and as of July of 2021, there have been no clinical studies that demonstrate any cannabinoid’s ability to increase libido whatsoever. In that sense, cannabis is not a true, medically-recognized aphrodisiac.
However, that isn’t to say that pairing cannabis and sex is not without potential benefits.
Elevating Versus Repairing
The other side of the issue is the notion that cannabis can somehow make sex more pleasurable due to reasons unrelated to performance. This assertion is far more difficult to reliably measure. Researchers must first attempt to gauge levels of enjoyability in users, which in itself is vague and difficult to quantify
However, several studies conducted made attempts to do just that. And the limited data produced seems to reinforce this notion more than refute it.
Two studies in particular have been the basis for many claims related to cannabis and sex. The Journal of Clinical Psychology published the first in 1979. Researchers gathered data from 84 graduate students related to their experience with cannabis and sex.
The results showed that “experienced cannabis users” firmly believed that using the plant prior to sex improved the sexual sensations. They also indicated cannabis use made the resulting orgasm more powerful. The studies’ author concluded, “There may be value in researching the use of marijuana in treatment of sexual disorders.”
The other study came out in 1984 in the Journal of Sex Research. An anonymous survey given to a large sample size of college students showed that more than two thirds of respondents reported greater sexual satisfaction as the result of cannabis use.
It is important to acknowledge these types of studies involve highly subjective responses. They should not be taken as definitive proof. However, they do help reinforce the growing anecdotal notion that cannabis and sex are a great duo.
Sex, Cannabis, and Pleasure
While researching why exactly cannabis is widely reported to improve sex, scientists uncovered an important discovery in 2017. A report published in Psychopharmacology by a group of Czech researchers established that several cannabinoids, namely versions of THC, stimulated a part of the brain called the right nucleus accumbens. This region helps control sexual arousal, and is known as the pleasure center of the brain. It also just so happens to be full of dense clusters of CB1 receptors. These receptors are special entry points for the cannabinoids to bind with the body.
Both delta 8 and delta 9 THC bind tightly with these receptors. This interaction is a large part of the reason cannabis often feels so euphoric. These receptors are also located inside the reproductive organs of all humans, which further hints at this natural synergistic connection.
The general sentiment within the scientific community seems to be that cannabis will in fact alter your relationship with sex. To what extent that is true might vary wildly, but it is almost certainly the case. And as more research emerges, it seems nearly inevitable that the findings will only strengthen these notions.
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