Cannabis Transformed My Sex Life, And It Could Do The Same For You

·11 min read

Let me take you back to a time in 2015. I had recently-ish received a diagnosis for endometriosis. It took over five years, which makes sense when you consider that the average time for a diagnosis of endometriosis for white women is seven years and more like 10+ years for women of color! Despite this being a disease that impacts 1 in 10 people assigned female at birth. I also received a subsequent diagnosis for overall pelvic floor dysfunction. Vaginismus, vulvodynia, vulvar vestibulitis syndrome — you name the term for vaginal or pelvic pain, and I probably received a diagnosis for it in the late 2010s.

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I tried many, many things to fix this problem. As mentioned earlier, I went to pelvic floor physical therapy for years. I worked with dilators (a tool used to expand your vaginal muscles), I saw sex therapists, and tried to rewire my brain and the way it thought about sex and the pain I had long associated with it. I bought myself vibrators, I watched porn. I used vaginal valium suppositories. I had multiple surgeries. I even got Botox in my vagina! I hired therapists of all kinds, I got acupuncture and chiropractic work. I used laser therapy. And yet, the debilitating pain was still there. It became such a part of my life that I began to avoid intimacy or sex of any kind altogether. In my mid-twenties, this was not the way I saw my life playing out. And I wasn't happy about it.

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I felt like giving up. I was so far into depression that I wasn't sure I would ever come out again. I felt as if I was destined to live a life without sex of any kind. And it was so hard, because in many ways I already felt like so much of my life had been stolen from me because of my illnesses. It was extremely difficult to process the idea that this could be taken away too. I didn't believe I would ever find a way to experience less pain when it came to orgasming. That is, until I found cannabis.

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It's not a secret that I fucking love cannabis. I have written about it before, and I am writing about it again today. I started using it for pain management when it came to my endometriosis and adenomyosis in late 2014. I would use tinctures, topical rubs, bath salts, smoke joints, dab, anything I could get my hands on, really. You name it — I've probably tried it on a bad pain day. But it wasn't until a couple of years later when I realized just how many ways this plant could be utilized. And today we're going to focus on one way specifically — through sex.

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But don't just take my word for it! Let's take a look at why this may be, and who else is experiencing a better sex life because of cannabis.

To start, it's important to understand the true relationship between cannabis and the body in order to have a greater understanding of the way this plant could interact with your sex life in any capacity. So, in order to do that, we sat down with Emma Chasen, cannabis educator and industry consultant at Eminent Consulting, to help us better understand the relationship between this plant and our bodies.

An image of the cannabis plant

According to Chasen, cannabinoids are a class of compounds that can come from a plant (phytocannabinoids from a plant such as cannabis) and can be made inside the body (endogenous cannabinoids), or synthesized in a lab. Humans, as well as other animals, have endogenous cannabinoids and we therefore have a physiological system to make, interact with, and respond to these cannabinoids. That system is known as the Endocannabinoid Receptor System, or ECS for short.

The ECS is made up of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and signaling molecules, and its primary function is to support our physiological systems by way of achieving homeostasis, aka balance. The ECS also allows us to feel effects from cannabis. The cannabinoids made inside of cannabis are structurally similar enough to our own endocannabinoids that they can interact with our cannabinoid receptors and other signaling molecules inside the body to produce therapeutic effects and cognitive changes when we consume cannabis. Pretty damn cool, right?

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And when it comes to those assigned female at birth, there may be even more of a connection. The ECS is largely present in female reproductive tissues and therefore has a large role in the regulation of hormones, reproductive maturation, and regulation of female reproductive cycling. Theoretically, if a person of female sex is experiencing a reproductive issue, hormone imbalance, pain localized to reproductive tissues, or pain associated with intercourse, consuming cannabinoids may help the ECS to better regulate hormones and provide therapeutic value.

An image of a woman smoking cannabis
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It's no secret that the internet is rife with claims regarding the ability of marijuana to improve the sexual experience; however, scientific data can be lacking. This is partially because marijuana is still federally illegal as of July 2021. So let's take a look at some studies that have been done to see where we land. First, let's take a look at this study ("The Perceived Effects of Marijuana Use Before Sex") from 2017 that aimed to determine if users believed that marijuana use before sex affected the sexual experience, by how much, and which domains of sexual function were affected.

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Of 289 respondents, 33% had used marijuana prior to sex. Of those, 65% of respondents believed marijuana made the sexual experience more pleasurable, 11% believed it did not, and 24% didn’t know. Of those who believed that marijuana use before sex made the sexual experience more pleasurable, 53% said it always did, 32% said it sometimes did, and only 3% believed that marijuana use before sex made sex less pleasurable. 60% of respondents believed that ingesting marijuana before sex increased their sex drive, 23% reported no change, and 16% didn’t know. 53% of users believed marijuana before sex made orgasm more pleasurable, while 18% reported no change, 26% didn’t know, and just 2% believed that it made orgasm less pleasurable.

Of the respondents who reported a more pleasurable orgasm, 78% of users reported it did so by a lot or a moderate amount. 26% reported an increase in vaginal lubrication, and 31% reported no change in vaginal lubrication. Only 14% of respondents had used marijuana before sex to decrease pain, and of those, 77% reported that pain was decreased by a lot or a moderate amount. Women who used marijuana before sex and women who did not use marijuana before sex did not differ significantly in overall health, sexual health, level of desire, satisfaction with orgasm, or the degree of pain.

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Next, a study from March of 2019 that took a look at the relationship between "Marijuana Use Prior to Sex and Sexual Function in Women."

An image of marijuana leaves on a white background

The aim of this study was as follows: To evaluate women’s perceptions of the effect of marijuana use before sexual activity.

Of the 373 participants, 34.0% reported having used marijuana before sexual activity. Most women reported increases in sex drive, improvement in orgasm, decrease in pain, but no change in lubrication. And after adjusting for race, women who reported marijuana use before sexual activity had 2.13 higher odds of reporting satisfactory orgasms than women who reported no marijuana use. After adjusting for race and age, women with frequent marijuana use, regardless of use before sex or not, had 2.10 times higher odds of reporting satisfactory orgasms than those with infrequent marijuana use.

In conclusion, according to this study, "Marijuana appears to improve satisfaction with orgasm. A better understanding of the role of the endocannabinoid system in women is important, because there is a paucity of literature, and it could help lead to development of treatments for female sexual dysfunction."

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I also got a chance to sit down with Dr. Jordan Tishler — who is a Harvard physician, cannabis therapeutics specialist, and president of the Association of Cannabinoid Specialists — to chat more about the science behind cannabis and sex.

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But I didn't just stop there. Generally speaking, I am definitely not alone in using cannabis for sex. So I spoke to some others users who include cannabis in their sex lives to see how, why, and what it's been like for them.

Maggie, a 23-year-old from the southeastern US, uses cannabis to treat their fibromyalgia and endometriosis pain. Maggie discovered the beautiful relationship between cannabis and sex a few years ago when penetrative sex became nearly impossible for them and orgasming at all caused them a lot of pain. Maggie told BuzzFeed, "I was already using cannabis to treat other endometriosis-related pain, so I started to investigate. That's when I found the wonderful world of cannabis sexual wellness. I first tried professional suppositories when they were offered to endometriosis patients through a study and loved them for general pelvic pain and for intimacy!"

An image of a woman smoking weed

"I usually smoke before and after intimacy out of necessity; this was a wonderful and organic way to bring cannabis into the bedroom. These products completely change the game for me, penetration or not. I was finally able to relax my pelvic floor without being immediately punished (by my illnesses) for it. I was able to engage in penetration at low symptom times, and I actually want to foster intimacy of all kinds instead of avoiding it like the plague. I now make my own suppositories so that I can use them all the time, and it's been a phenomenal addition to my toolbox and bedside table. Of course, you can still find me taking a fat bong rip with an ice pack afterward."

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And Elicia, a 24-year-old from Washington, first discovered a relationship between cannabis and sex when they used cannabis after sex to treat the pain they were experiencing during and after sex.

An image of a woman smoking weed

Elicia told BuzzFeed, "Immediately after sex, I would feel like my insides were melting. If I had an orgasm, I would feel like I was being tasered on my cervix. When I brought this up to a doctor, she first asked me about my partner’s penis size (super weird) and then asked invasive questions about sex positions. I left feeling depressed that something that had been a pleasurable experience had become something painful, and that my doctor seemed to have no treatment other than a pre-sex ibuprofen. Using cannabis allows freedom in my sex life. Using cannabis allows me to have a sex life!"

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Rolando, 40 from Michigan, began using cannabis as a part of his sex life in his early twenties, telling BuzzFeed, "I started smoking young, and now I am an everyday user, whether it be smoking, ointments, or edibles. Cannabis helps me live life better in so many ways."

An image of a hand holding a lit joint

He went on, "I was a young parent and my child unfortunately had cancer at that age. When leaving chemo and trying to relax, his mother and I used to smoke just to cope. During moments of trying to forget, we would smoke and have great sex. It was a way to help us escape the reality of our situations at that time. We unfortunately broke up and I remember when I started dating again, I introduced cannabis into our sex lives and it was great. It was kind of our thing, we could relax, focus on ourselves, and feel everything! Every single relationship I've had since then that was sexual has involved cannabis."

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So, how exactly do I use cannabis for sex? Well, I've tried it all.

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You may be wondering where you can start, so Emma Chasen gave some suggestions for adults in legal states.

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"For a person beginning to explore their relationship with cannabis," Chasen started, "I recommend microdosing. Start with a very small dose of cannabinoids (around 2.5mg of THC or 5mg of CBD) and work your way up from there to find your optimal dose. I also recommend experimenting with a variety of consumption methods. Our ECS is not only in our brain, it is in reproductive tissues, in the skin, in various organs and cells throughout the body, so try out different products to see what you like best."

And as you are experimenting, I find that it helps to keep a consumption journal to track your experiences with different products and cannabinoids and find what works best for you!

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But Dr. Tishler wants users who are considering incorporating cannabis into their sex lives to know that there still are risks involved as we learn more about this plant. "If possible," he added, "consult your doctor or a medical professional that you trust so that as a team, they can work on these issues and get the best benefit and minimize those risks."

So — what have we learned today? While the studies are still lacking (in part because of this plant still being considered illegal at a federal level, causing a lack of access), the studies that do exist show promise. While I can't say for sure that cannabis will improve everyone's sex life, I believe that everyone should be given the option to try for themselves.

An image of the marijuana plant over a pink background

At this point, cannabis is still heavily stigmatized and people are still sitting in jail over a plant that has changed my own life in so many ways (for the better). While progress is being made, I believe it's important to highlight the ways in which this plant can be used medicinally. Or just for a better orgasm!

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To learn more about how you can get involved in the ongoing fight for cannabis justice, check out Last Prisoner Project or Cage-Free Cannabis.