Ah, cannabis and sex. Cannabis has a long history of being used as an aphrodisiac. It all started with an ancient culture that considered the herb to be a gift from the Gods: Indians have been using cannabis to get in the mood for centuries. It’s still widely considered an aphrodisiac in India; but the very first record regards tantric sex rituals associated with the goddess Kali Ma, as early as 700 AD.
Historical Eastern Europeans were also using cannabis to boost their sex drives. They were fond of a mixture they called “Happy Porridge” that added almond butter, rose leaves, carnation petals, and honey (among other similarly-lovely ingredients) to cannabis, which they called ‘nasha.’ Serbians use hemp for it, the Vikings did it for Goddess Freya, and Uganda knows all about it.
But how are cannabis and sex drive related, and are they…really?
Science on Sex and Cannabis is Complicated
Due to its federal status, there aren’t as many studies as you might think for a topic with such a long and worldly history – but the ones published have yielded interesting—if contradictory—results. In 1982, a study pointed to cannabis being an all-out “love drug,” with 75% of male users reporting that it enhanced their sex lives. But that study, and others before it, don’t account for the effect that being high has on your perception – is it really helping in the bedroom, or does it just seem like it at the time?
A troubling 2009 study found that men who smoke cannabis daily have trouble reaching orgasm four times more than men who don’t and are three times more likely to experience premature ejaculation. However, since a causal relationship wasn’t found; some posit that these men are self-medicating with cannabis to delay orgasm (with some over-medicating, resulting in an inability to do so), rather than cannabis actually being the cause of the problem.
When compared to non-users, the same study also reported that the men who use cannabis were twice as likely to have two or more sex partners in the previous year. This could mean that cannabis is helping them hook up, or it could point back to studies involving personality tests that found cannabis users are more likely to score high on being open to new experiences.
Recent Studies Further Complicate Matters
While you can find a lot of accusations about cannabis and low sperm count, there’s not a lot of scientific evidence to back it up. Though studies like this one have found damning results on the matter, they’ve been completely contradicted by a 2019 Harvard study that found that men who’d ever smoked cannabis had significantly higher sperm counts than those who’d never inhaled. Furthermore, the trend carried over for men who currently smoked cannabis as well.
The study also tested blood, which revealed seemingly contradictory results. Though cannabis smokers showed less follicle stimulating hormones, which are critical for sperm growth; those who reported “more intense use” had significantly higher concentrations of testosterone, also crucial to sperm development.
A study done in 2017 presents the most glowing results. Over 50,000 men and women of across races, ages, and economic backgrounds took a survey that asked how many times they’d had sex in the last month and how often they’d smoked cannabis in the last year. The results were stunning, showing that users actually have more sex than people who don’t use cannabis. Women’s results were especially beneficial, with 34% more sex; but men’s were mighty as well, with 22% more.
Again, though, these results, don’t prove a causal relationship – we don’t know that the reason behind these people getting more nooky is indeed cannabis. It could be other factors, like shared personality traits. Meaning, we know that in addition to scoring high on openness traits, male cannabis users also scored high on testosterone levels; since these are both characteristics likely to lead to more sexual experiences, it’s possible that it’s not cannabis leading to these results but these inherent qualities that the individuals possess.
So Are Cannabis and Sex Drive a Match?
In the end, it seems like those who are drawn to cannabis use might also be people who are already motivated in the sexual arena. However, there’s nothing concrete to eliminate a causal relationship either; maybe cannabis is what’s giving those with better stats their juju. Also, there are other matters that haven’t been accounted for as sexual health is a complicated issue. If you aren’t sure how cannabis affects your sex drive, maybe it’s time to see.
However, do keep in mind the aforementioned negative results as well – the lack of proven causality doesn’t mean there’s not a relation. Definitely be aware of all effects that your cannabis use is having on your sex life, don’t just look for the positive ones. And when it comes to cannabis dosage, always start low and go slow. May it be just the aphrodisiac you need!