Marijuana and Sexual Dysfunction: What You Should Knowby R. Y. Langham, Ph.D. Health Professional
Marijuana, also known as weed, pot, and cannabis, definitely has a dubious reputation — including when it comes to sex. Some people swear it enhances sex, while others claim it interferes with their performance, and in some cases, worsens sexual dysfunctions. Although some people may find that occasionally smoking a joint before sex can be beneficial for their sex lives, smoking too much and too often can lead to some unpleasant side effects.
What do the studies say?
Some studies suggest that smoking marijuana on a regular basis can enhance sex — for most people. For example, a November 2017 study on the relationship between marijuana use and sexual frequency and function in 30-year-old men and women in the U.S., from 2002-2015, found that both male and female marijuana users had better sex at higher rates than their non-using counterparts. Therefore, according to the results, marijuana use was not only linked to having more sex, but it did not appear to impair sexual function.
On the other hand, other studies suggest that smoking large amounts of marijuana on a regular basis can do more harm than good to your sex life. In fact, one study found that smoking one joint could improve sex, but smoking two or more could actually hinder it.
What is clear is that more research is needed on marijuana and sexual dysfunction. Because marijuana may interfere with sexual function in some people, it’s important to understand the potential benefits and risks of using it to enhance your sexual performance.
The negative sexual side effects of marijuana use
For some, part of the appeal of marijuana is the notion of “mind-blowing sex.” And, although, it’s true that THC (the main ingredient in marijuana) can have benefits, it can also trigger a boatload of negative sexual side effects. More specifically, even though marijuana may boost your mood and reduce anxiety before, during, or even after sex, it can also wreak havoc on your sex drive. In fact, some users claim that getting “high” or “stoned” killstheir desire to have sex. The truth is, it can be challenging to arouse someone who is “dulled out” because of pot. In addition, some pot users experience a loss of focus or an inability to think clearly during sex, leading to an emotional separation between partners, instead of a newfound closeness and a deeper, more passionate connection.
Overusing marijuana can interfere with sexual performance, function, and desire. Some of these problems only affect men. More specifically, chronic “overuse” of pot may be linked to erectile dysfunction, low testosterone levels and decreased sex drive, an inability to orgasm, and premature ejaculation.
- Erectile dysfunction
Some research suggests marijuana may contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED) in some men. ED is a common male sexual problem that occurs when a man has a hard time getting and keeping an erection.
According to a review in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, there may be a positive link between high levels of chronic marijuana use and increased ED and low libido. Moreover, the “high” feeling you get once THC reaches your brain can also disrupt your bodily functions, namely your penile muscles, triggering or worsening ED. Researchers have also found that low testosterone levels (from marijuana use) can also lead to ED. It is important to note that although some states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, it hasnot been approved for the treatment of ED.
- Low testosterone levels and decreased sex drive
Frequent use of marijuana may lead to low testosterone levels and decreased sex drive in some men. A 2017 review suggests that lower amounts of marijuana may enhance sexual desire (in some men), but chronic use of higher amounts may actually decrease it (i.e. inhibited orgasm, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and low libido).
- Inability to orgasm
Marijuana use can also affect your ability to achieve an orgasm. According to a 2009 study, daily male marijuana users had a harder time achieving an orgasm than their non-smoking counterparts. Therefore, researchers concluded that smoking pot on a regular basis can prevent you from reaching orgasm during sex.
- Premature ejaculation
Truth be told, the cause of premature ejaculation (PE) varies, but some research indicates that regular pot use can cause or exacerbate PE issues in men. Recent studies indicate that marijuana can be both ineffective and counterproductive for some men with PE. More specifically, a La Trobe University study found that men who smoked marijuana regularly experienced PE three times more often than their non-smoking counterparts. Therefore, researchers have concluded that frequent marijuana use can lead to or worsen sexual dysfunctions like PE.
The bottom line? The general consensus is that low-quantity, occasional marijuana use may produce better sex, but high-quantity, more frequent use may negatively affect your sex life. However, many studies on the link between marijuana and sexual function are contradictory, and more research needs to be done on the topic. And of course, it’s always important to consult your local laws about marijuana and speak with your doctor before using it in any way.
R.Y. Langham holds an M.S. in marriage and family therapy and a Ph.D. in family psychology. She serves as a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, which provides online sex-therapy programs for men and couples experiencing premature ejaculation.