The Effects of Cannabis on Sex

Cannabis and sex have had a long but blurry collaboration. While some claim that the plant would act as an aphrodisiac, others counter-argue that it is deterrent to sexual activity.

Cannabis and sex have a long history together

If there is one thing that cannabis has revealed about itself, it is certainly not the precise way in which it affects sexual behavior. Throughout history, the varying - and even opposite - effects of the drug on love-making have been reported as being particularly unpredictable, yet, quite fascinating for the same reason. For instance, in the parts of Asia where the plant is considered as divine, cannabis has long been considered as an aphrodisiac that can be ingested in its different forms before intercourse.

However, in countries like Greece, ancient times have witnessed accounts as those of Physician Dioscorides, who notably wrote in his work De Materia Medica - or On Medical Matters in English - that the juice of hemp seeds would act as a libido suppressant. But to understand how cannabis and sex interact, maybe it would be better to have a look at the reasons why the hemp plant has been used to enhance or alter sexual intercourse throughout the years.

Cannabis was used to alleviate "the pain of defloration" during the Russian Soviet Era

Russian women used to illegally utilize weed in the 1930's to reduce the pain of their first sexual experience on the occasion of their wedding night. Even though the use of the substance had been proscribed by the Soviet Union at the time, virgin women would mix cannabis with "nasha" - or lamb's fat - and apply it to their vaginas so as to ease themselves into the world of sex. They would also try to "shrink" or "rejuvenate" the externs of their reproductive organs by using an ointment composed of hashish and tobacco. And finally, a cannabis tonic referred to as "guckand" would be used both as an aphrodisiac and as an anesthetic which would serve to relieve the pain of freshly circumcised little boys.

Cannabis fixed women's swollen breasts during medieval times

According to "Medieval Herbal Remedies" by Anne Van Arsdall, cannabis was particularly useful in treating the swollen breasts of 11th-century women. The book, which encompasses the Old English herbarium, as well as Anglo-Saxon medicine, also covers how women would mix animal fat and weed into an ointment used to "disperse the swelling" of their aching bosoms. The use of a similar type of ointment has been reported in both Germany and Austria during the 19th century.

Cannabis and erectile dysfunction in Africa

Men too have enjoyed cannabis as a sexual fixer. The long history of the masculine struggle that is erectile dysfunction has witnessed a happy period in the provinces of Uganda, where a notable past of traditional healers and medicinal herbs has led to the resolution of the waist-down, pre-intercourse issue through the hemp plant's mystical powers. In the African country, cannabis is either chewed, smoked, or ingested with other substances such as tea, beer, or a specific porridge drink that is indigenous to the region.

Cannabis and its implication in tantric sex

Tantra, which is the framework of Asian spirituality that has been devised to channel energy and divinity, covers the topic of sex as well. The journaled research "Women and Cannabis: Medicine, Science, and Sociology", co-authored by Ethan Russo, Melanie Creagan Dreher, and Mary Lynne Mathre, stipulates that "The Kama Sutra and Ananga Ranga eloquently detail Hindu sexual techniques, and the Tantras transform such sexual practices into a means of meditational yoga."

The aforementioned techniques would often be accompanied by a catalyst being no other than Cannabis. Since the hemp plant was thought capable of lengthening sexual arousal and heightening sexual desire, it is unsurprising that ancient Asian manuscripts covering tantric material contain accounts of cannabis-induced sexual rituals that could last for up to 8 hours. Apparently, the mass sexual intercourses would not stop until "a glow of fire envelops the lovers in total-body orgasms, which result in erasure of mental ideations and ego, the timeless freedom from self which equals Nirvana."

Cannabis in India and the Middle East

India has come up with some sort of a deluxe weed smoothie/milkshake made of yogurt or milk, nuts, spices, and of course, ground cannabis. Referred to as "bhang", the mixture is regularly consumed during festivals such as Holi and Shivaratri, as well as for Ayurvedic practices. But more importantly in the context of this article, "bhang" is also used prior to sexual intercourse. The mixture, in addition to being able to alleviate anxiety and indigestion, is also capable of boosting erections and bolstering sexual arousal.

In countries like Morocco, Egypt, and Lebanon, another "pot drink" exists. Called "Kif", the drink comes in two versions: the medicinal one and the aphrodisiac one. The medical version contains opium, while the aphrodisiac version comprises cloves, ginger, nutmeg, snakeroot, lavender, and of course, cannabis. "Kif" is said to "reduce inhibitions and impotence" while making one prone to "transcendental experiences".

Cannabis as a cure for sexually transmissible diseases

Cannabis has not only been used as a sexual enhancer. History has also seen the plant being utilized as a cure for multiple sexually transmissible diseases. In Arabia and Muslim India, cannabis has long served as a treatment for gonorrhea. During the 17th century, a German physician would administrate a nutmeg-weed concoction as a remedy for the clap. And in the Americas of 1930's, cannabis was marketed as a tincture that was to be inserted up to 3 times a day in one's urethra. The drug was even sold along with urethral pipes.

Cannabis used for sex as told by classic literature

While Shakespeare's own work pointed to the use of a certain mood-altering substance to influence his writing, the epic Arabian work "1001 nights", which has been dated back to the 13th century,  implies that cannabis was used as a sexual stimulant.

Here is Shakespeare's "weed sonnet", which has been found at the writer's domicile on a sheet containing traces of cannabis, hallucinogenic nutmeg, and cocaine:

"Why is my verse so barren of new pride,

So far from variation or quick change?

Why with the time do I not glance aside

To new-found methods and to compounds strange?

Why write I still all one, ever the same,

And keep invention in a noted weed,

That every word doth almost tell my name,

Showing their birth and where they did proceed?"

And finally, here is an excerpt from the "1001 nights":

"Art thou not ashamed, O Hashish-eater, to be sleeping stark naked with a stiff standing tool?"

Explanations why the effects of cannabis on sexual behavior vary

As history has demonstrated, cannabis influences different aspects of one's sexual life. However, it seems that the effects induced are particularly varied and often unpredictable.

The composition of cannabis

Cannabis is in fact very complex. Scientists are constantly discovering new effects, attributes, and characteristics associated with the chemicals that the plant comprises. The influence of Tetrahydrocannabinol - or THC - and Cannabidiol - or CBD - on the human body and nervous system is widely documented and still studied extensively since those two substances are those whose effects are the most sought after. However, those two cannabinoids constitute only a mere fraction of the hundreds of other substances that the hemp plant stores. Presently, over 400 chemicals have been identified in cannabis. It is therefore unsurprising that one's body is susceptible to multiple reactions upon the ingestion of marijuana.

Frequency of use

As substances influence the human body, its internals will eventually respond in the form of a reaction. In the case of marijuana, sequels of consumption sometimes stay and in turn have an effect on how the human body responds to future intakes of the multiple forms in which the drug at hand is available. A notable example of the phenomenon is acquiring tolerance to THC, which is often dealt with by increasing one's dose. Those common sequels of previous consumption often result from either the frequency or duration of one's past experiences with cannabis.

Gender

Since men and women are constructed in different ways biologically, it is quite normal that some of the effects of cannabis might fluctuate according to both sexes and their respective anatomical discrepancies.

Recent studies have only come up with mixed conclusions 

In may of 1984, Ronald A. Weller of the University of Kansas and James A. Halikas produced a study encompassing 97 individuals who had been asked to engage in sexual intercourse under the influence of cannabis. The experiment, which was reported by The Journal of Sex Research, had a massive two-thirds of its subjects reporting that they had enjoyed "increased sexual pleasure and satisfaction with marijuana." However, two other studies conducted in Canada in 2003 and 2008 on groups of 104 and 41 people respectively led to mixed conclusions. Some reported that they had indeed enjoyed better sex under the influence of the drug, while others had noticed no difference upon consuming marijuana prior to sex.

In 2009, the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society carried out an experiment which found that "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."

And lastly, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, cannabis would be able to reduce testosterone levels in both sexes. However, authors conceded that "effects in humans have been inconsistent, and discrepancies are likely due in part to the development of tolerance."

Both history and research point unanimously towards the fickle nature of cannabis. But while the effects that it has on our respective bodies can be diverse, it is certain that the drug affects sexual behavior to some extent. It would be right to conclude that one's sexual experience with marihuana will depend on his or her biological constitution.

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