Cannabis and sex have a long, complicated history. Considered a divine plant throughout India and Asia, cannabis is touted as an effective aphrodisiac in these regions as it has been for thousands of years. On the other hand, we have accounts like those of Greek physician Dioscorides, who in his De Materia Medica (On Medical Materials) wrote that juice from hemp seeds act as a libido suppressant.
In addition to the contradictory anecdotal accounts reported over the years, scientific findings on the effects cannabis has on our sex drive have been unpredictable and equally mixed. Some men and women experience a boost in their sex drive and desire, as well as heightened enjoyment of sensual touch, more intimacy with their partner, and enhanced feelings of satisfaction. Others, however, report feelings of tiredness, too much physical sensitivity, or paranoia. This sets cannabis apart from other mood-altering substances (like alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, and narcotics) that show consistent and well-documented sexual effects.
First, a few things we know about cannabis' relationship with sex:
1. The hundreds of compounds unique to cannabis affect each person differently, and consumers can experience varying reactions depending on the particular strain of cannabis they use.
2. How often one consumes cannabis can impact its effects.
3. The amount of cannabis one consumes can have various effects.
4. One's physical and mental state at the time can influence the effects of cannabis.
Unfortunately, many of the scientific findings on the effects cannabis has on our sex drive are contradictory and outdated, and even though research does span back to the 1970s, studies specific to marijuana's effects on sex have been scarce. So far nothing has been found to show that cannabis is a chemical trigger for one's sex drive, but feelings of increased arousal and desire are consistently observed by some participants (though not all) in scientific studies and informal polls alike.
For example, the May 1984 edition of The Journal of Sex Research presented a study conducted by Ronald A. Weller of the University of Kansas and James A. Halikas of the Medical College of Wisconsin on 97 participants who had paired cannabis and sex and found “over two-thirds reported increase sexual pleasure and satisfaction with marijuana.” Two Canadian studies (2003 and 2008) on small groups of adults (104 and 41 people, respectively) produced mixed results, ranging from some participants revealing that they primarily use marijuana to enhance sex while others reported that the substance had never increased their desire or experience.
However, some associate cannabis use with dissatisfaction in sexual performance. A 2009 study conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society found the “frequency of cannabis use was unrelated to sexual problems in women, but daily use vs. no use was associated with increased reporting among men of an inability to reach orgasm, reaching orgasm too quickly, and too slowly.”
Also, the effects cannabis has on testosterone (the hormone associated with sexual desire) are still hotly debated, as some believe marijuana reduces testosterone levels in men and women alike, thus inhibiting their natural libido. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published a 2002 study which claimed to show that cannabis reduced testosterone levels in both sexes, but the authors conceded “effects in humans have been inconsistent, and discrepancies are likely due in part to the development of tolerance.” Clearly, we need more studies on the subject.
To end, we don't yet know what role cannabis plays, if any, on our sexual behavior and functioning, which are complex mechanisms themselves, impacted by both body and mind. Some feel that cannabis increases feelings of intimacy between lovers because it lowers inhibitions and enhances the senses, while others experience a loss of focus and internalize their thoughts. Feel free to consult your doctor if you have any reservations, but the best way to know for yourself is to give it a try.