Smoking Hot: Our expert tells you how to take your sexual experiences higher with cannabis

Cannabis has a long history of being used to enhance the human sexual experience. Since 700 BC in India, a cannabis drink has been used to heighten sensation and prolong arousal so people can achieve spiritual awakening while engaging in tantric sex focused on “oneness.” In Eastern Europe, cannabis-infused lamb’s fat has been given to Russian brides before their wedding nights to lessen any pain that could come with defloration. It is said that the Vikings believed the cannabis flower contained erotic effects, and that those who consumed cannabis would embody the Viking love goddess, Freya. Many cultures have utilized cannabis as an aphrodisiac, and now researchers are studying what they can with limited resources; their results back up the evidence our ancestors left us.

Comprehensive studies on cannabis and sex are far and few between in the US because cannabis not only is federally illegal, but is classified as a Schedule 1 substance along with heroin, ecstasy, LSD, peyote and meth. The federal government considers these Schedule 1 substances to have “no currently accepted medical use” and therefore, they are given no federal funding and see few research dollars. The Department of Urology and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stanford University conducted the largest study to-date. Between 2002 and 2015, they surveyed 28,176 women and 22,943 men, all around 30 years old. Weekly use of cannabis resulted in 22% more sex for men and 34% more sex for women. Additionally, both sexes who used cannabis more often than weekly reported even larger increases in sexual frequency. This same study also concluded that cannabis does not impair sexual function (unlike alcohol).

Another interesting study led by Becky Lynn of St. Louis University surveyed 133 sexually active women over the age of 18 at their gynecology check-ups who reported using cannabis prior to sex. The questionnaire asked women about how they felt that cannabis affected their sexual experiences, sex drive, orgasm, lubrication and pain. The study concluded that cannabis use before sex resulted in a “better overall sexual experience, increased sex drive and a more pleasurable orgasm with minimal effect on lubrication.” Of these cannabis-using women, 16% of them said they used cannabis before sex to reduce pain “and of those, 83% of them reported that their pain level was decreased by a lot to a moderate amount.” Later, Lynn and her same research team surveyed 289 more adult women during their gynecology check-ups and ended up with similar findings.

So with the majority of cannabis users past and present in agreement about the beneficial effects it has on their sexual experiences, what are your options when it comes to incorporating cannabis into your sex life? The methods and benefits are plentiful. Smoking and vaping cannabis are commonly used options that typically begin to take their effect within just a few minutes. Absorption sublingually via tincture or lozenge can take between 15 and 90 minutes depending on several factors, and edibles generally have the longest lasting effects but also take the longest to begin working their tantric magic. In his book Beyond Buds: Next Generation, Ed Rosenthal explains that cannabis lube and cannabis suppositories are highly effective methods of administration because our internal membranes are highly permeable and “extremely effective in transporting and distributing cannabis throughout our bodies.” Vaginal or rectal absorption results in double the bioavailability of cannabinoids when compared to when it is absorbed via the gastrointestinal tract. For centuries, women have reported using cannabis in all forms to relieve pain during their menstrual cycles.

Experiences with cannabis can vary greatly depending on factors surrounding the individual consuming it (eg, diet and tolerance) as well as purely cannabis-related factors such as strain, methodology and concentration level. A word of caution: Over-consumption of cannabis before sex can has been reported to result in inhibited sexuality, so some self-awareness and small doses are always the best way to start when learning how cannabis affects your mind and body. Knowing the strain allows users to approximate the ratios of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids that a particular genotype of cannabis will present (even each strain varies slightly between multiple phenotypes). The ratios of these compounds are what determine specific effects of each strain. The classifications sativa, indica and hybrid are useful terminology for cannabis growing and determining the physical characteristics of cannabis plants, but they are falling out of scientific favor as a way to determine the medicinal benefits and effects of cannabis. They are being replaced with more precise chemotype designations like high-THC, high-CBD or THC/CBD balanced (aka, 1:1).

The positive correlation between sex and cannabis is apparent, but at the moment, the evidence demonstrating how cannabis affects humans sexually is primarily anecdotal due a lack of funding for more in-depth scientific research. For now, the studies will have to be done outside the US until progress is made with federal drug rescheduling. Luckily we can rely on the overwhelming historical evidence, subjective surveys and our personal experiences to guide us in enhancing our sex lives with cannabis.

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