Science of Sex: Marijuana and Sexual Activity

Welcome to the sixth installment in a new feature on Of Sex and Love: Science of Sex. In this feature, I plan to discuss the science of sexuality in an easy-to-digest format that’s accessible to the casual reader. I will also follow up with some extended reading material for people who want to know more about the subject of each post.

I try to update Science of Sex every second Saturday of the month, so check back soon.  This month’s incredibly late Science of Sex post is a departure from previous posts, but it’s one that I hope you will enjoy.

science of sex marijuana

A few studies have compared how substances affect sex drive, performance, and satisfaction. The two most commonly researched substances are alcohol and marijuana, with studies on the latter becoming more common as marijuana continues to be legalized. These studies piqued my interest!

Thus far, studies on cannabis use and sex point to some similarities to alcohol: people generally feel more relaxed and attractive when they mix either substance with sex.

Many people report being more aroused when drunk or stoned, but there’s a surprising difference between men: 50% of women reported being more aroused after smoking pot compared to 39% of men. The reasons may not bee entirely due to a chemical difference, however. Researchers suggested that women were more likely to need a reason to allow themselves to have sex, and marijuana changes the “path” to sex with which women are more concerned than men.

Cannabis use can decrease a man’s plasma testosterone (women see an opposite effect, which might account for the greater increase in desire) with greater effects on more heavy smokers. This is especially true on days after intense use. Thus, marijuana can both increase and decrease desire in men. Sperm counts also drop in these men to below 30 million per ml, which could be an obstacle for people who are trying to conceive.

Regardless of those differences, both men and women who smoke pot are likely to have more sex than those who don’t — about 20% more sex. No conclusions have been drawn, but the combination of increased arousal and decreased inhibition probably helps.

Smoking more marijuana doesn’t necessarily lead to even more desire, however. One joint seems to be the sweet spot. Doubling that still increases desire but only by half as much.

Discover how the dual-control model of sexual desire affects arousal, too.

Interestingly enough, both alcohol and marijuana affect how people choose sexual partners, but someone is more likely to sleep with a friend when stoned and a stranger while drunk. Regrets are increased after drunken sex more than stoned sex, too. Marijuana does lead to increased risky behaviors, such as not using condoms with established partners.

Most people are familiar with the phenomenon known as “whiskey dick,” which occurs when a man who has imbibed alcohol cannot become erect. Some men experience difficulty with erection while high, but not nearly as many.

The influence of marijuana on orgasm is varied:

  • Some people experience more orgasms
  • Some have more intense orgasms
  • Some have fewer orgasms or difficulty orgasming

The mind that marijuana puts someone in can prove too much of a distraction and may come with paranoia or other negative side effects that do not bode well for sex.

The type of sex that people have after smoking tends to be softer and gentler while people who drink have more aggressive sex. The sex is also likely to be slower, and many men report lasting longer after smoking, likely due to the endocannabinoid system.

At least one study finds an increased likelihood of sex during menstruation when marijuana is involved. Mixing cannabis and pregnancy may have unwanted effects. Research suggests that marijuana both reduces conception and successful pregnancies.

Pot might be a moon for desire more often than not, but there are definitely times when you should abstain, and users should beware the increased potential for risky behaviors.

Further Reading

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Dandi Lucas

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