Does Cannabis Improve Libido? [What Does the Research Say?]

Despite all its possible benefits, one might not immediately associate cannabis with better sex. However, research suggests that marijuana could improve libido and sexual satisfaction, especially for women.

And the benefits that cannabis could have for one’s sex life do not end there! Read on to learn how cannabis could improve libido and how to use it to enhance one’s love life.

Does Marijuana Improve Libido?

Cannabis affects many of the body’s biological functions, including one’s sex drive. It does this by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system is a network of cell receptors and chemicals called endocannabinoids. These receptors and chemicals bind together to trigger a variety of different responses and maintain balance within the body.

Two of the endocannabinoids we know most about are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). These chemicals influence many of the body’s other compounds, including neurotransmitters and hormones.

Neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine may improve sexual satisfaction as they influence feelings of pleasure. They are released by cells in the nervous system, which have a high concentration of cannabinoid receptors.

Hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone are involved in reproduction and sexual desire. Researchers have also discovered a high concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the organs that produce these sex hormones.

These organs include the adrenal glands, which produce androgens like testosterone, and the ovaries, which produce estrogen and progesterone. Therefore, endocannabinoids such as AEA and 2-AG have a dual effect on a person’s sex drive.

Cannabinoids from cannabis, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), work comparably. Their molecules have a similar shape to our natural endocannabinoids, and therefore, stimulate the same receptors. This ability to bind with cannabinoid receptors is what gives cannabis many of its medicinal and recreational benefits.

Scientists have found that THC, specifically, has a powerful influence over hormonal function. It also affects the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Cannabis and Libido: The Research

Since marijuana has been illegal for the last century, there is a real lack of research into its effects. However, this is steadily beginning to change. Nowadays, more and more studies are emerging which sheds light on how this miraculous plant affects the body and mind.

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One hot topic of research is how cannabis affects libido. There are now several animal and human studies available on the subject. These were summarized in a 2019 review by Lynn et al. for Sexual Medicine Reviews.

Here is what we know so far:

Animal Studies

Researchers were carrying out preclinical studies into cannabis and libido as early as 1978. Since then, many have followed suit, and a total of eight studies were included in the review. Reassuringly, most of them had similar findings.

Various studies found that THC stimulated lordosis in female rats and hamsters. Lordosis is a position in which the back is arched downwards, indicating sexual receptivity.

One study also found that the endocannabinoid AEA increased sexual motivation. The authors measured this by the number of times female rats visited males. In contrast, a substance known as SR14171, which blocks endocannabinoids, had the opposite effect.

These results show that both THC and AEA have positive effects on libido.

However, some of the studies had differing results. One found that a cannabinoid receptor agonist actually decreased lordosis in rats. The effects appeared to depend on dosage and timing. Another study found that an endocannabinoid antagonist enhanced sexual behavior.

Clearly, more research is necessary before we can understand precisely how the ECS influences libido. However, what seems obvious is that it does have some effect.

Human Studies

The review also included 12 human studies on marijuana and sexual behavior. Due to the plant’s illegal status, the majority of these were self-reported surveys rather than clinical trials. However, the results showed some interesting trends.

In one study, 44% of the respondents stated that cannabis use “definitely increases sexual desire.” Of these respondents, 50% were female. The female respondents were also more likely to report increased desire if they were frequent users rather than daily or occasional users.

Another study found that 39% of males and 57% of female respondents reported increased libido after cannabis use. Furthermore, 43% of female respondents reported heightened pleasure.

However, like the animal study we mentioned earlier, these effects appear to be dose-dependent. After one joint, 71% of women reported increased sexual motivation. This figure fell to 49% after four joints or more. Researchers hypothesized that this dose-dependent response is due to marijuana’s sedative effects when consumed in large doses.

Later studies went a step further and assessed the effect of marijuana use on sexual satisfaction and orgasm. Overall, the research suggests that cannabis increases pleasure, sensations, satisfaction, and orgasm intensity. One study found that female cannabis users had 2.13 higher odds of reporting satisfactory orgasms after consuming the herb.

Just one study found that cannabis use had a negative influence on libido. The survey focused on people suffering from sexual dysfunction rather than healthy individuals. The participants reported inhibited orgasm, excitement, and desire.

Again, more research is necessary to ascertain exactly how marijuana affects libido in humans. However, with numerous places now legalizing cannabis, we may well see more of this in the near future.

Could Cannabis Improve One’s Sex Life?

The current research indicates that cannabis may improve a person’s sex life, at least in low doses; however, according to the data, take too much, and sleep may be the only bedroom activity of interest.

Using marijuana to enhance sexual enjoyment may also depend on the specific strain that you choose. Generally speaking, sativa strains tend to have more energizing effects than indicas, which are more sedating.

This difference in effects means that sativas might be better suited to activities that require stamina and focus. Some strains which people commonly use to enhance sexual function include Sour Diesel and Green Crack. Users say that both of these strains can keep them going all night long.

And while most of the research we have mentioned focused on THC, CBD is also worth mentioning. One of the primary reasons why people take CBD is for pain relief. So, if a person experiences pain during sex, it may offer them some relief. CBD also has anti-anxiety properties, meaning that it may help calm nerves and induce relaxation before engaging in sexual activity.

CBD could be a good compromise for anyone wanting to use cannabis to enhance sex without the intoxicating effects.

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People can enjoy these potential benefits by taking CBD oil traditionally, i.e., by placing a drop or two under the tongue. CBD-infused lube is another option. These products are safe to use during sex and could make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable. And if the cost is an issue, then making one’s own CBD lube is an option!

Does Cannabis Improve Libido? Final Thoughts

It seems that cannabis can indeed improve libido, especially for women. However, most of the existing evidence is anecdotal, and full-scale clinical trials are yet to take place.

If a person decides to consume marijuana before sex, they’ll need to be mindful of the dose. Take too much, and it could have a negative effect on libido. As with many good things in life, less is more when it comes to sex and cannabis.

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