Rumor has it that cannabis can be like sexual medicine, particularly for women. But can cannabis increase libido for women? Some of us remember how Dianne Keaton’s character Annie Hall smoked weed to perk up in bed in the 1977 romantic comedy of the same name, but how many other women experience increased sex drive from partaking of the plant? Here, we’ll explore how cannabis might improve a woman’s sexual experience and explain why this may be true.
What is the endocannabinoid system?
To understand how cannabis influences sexual enjoyment, learning about the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is key. The endocannabinoid system is spread throughout the human body and brain, forming a web of chemical signals and receptors that affect everything from hunger to sex drive. Essential for many aspects of human functioning, the ECS has a unique relationship with cannabis because of the interplay between the endocannabinoid receptors and the cannabinoids found in cannabis, such as THC and CBD.
The body’s natural receptors (endocannabinoid receptors) get stimulated by our endogenous endocannabinoids: the molecules discovered to have a structural similarity to molecules in the cannabis plant in the late 1980s. According to scientific research, similar molecules in cannabis (cannabinoids or phytocannabinoids) mimic our endocannabinoids and affect our bodies’ functions.
The ECS’s CB1 and CB2 receptors become stimulated by either endocannabinoids or phytocannabinoids (made from plants). For instance, our response to hunger, sexual desire, temperature, and other sensations change depending on which cannabinoids or endocannabinoids engage with these cannabinoid receptors. CB1 receptors mediate the psychoactive effects of cannabinoids such as THC, whereas CB2 receptors mainly regulate anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive responses .
What does the research say about cannabis and female sexual function?
A new study published in January 2023 in The Journal of Cannabis Research concluded that cannabis use improves sex drive and enjoyment, particularly for women. The study aimed to evaluate women’s perceptions of cannabis use on sexual functioning and sexual satisfaction. The researchers used Kaplan’s, Masters, and Johnson’s sexual response cycle: (desire, excitement, orgasm, plateau, and resolution). They added the category of overall sexual satisfaction to complete the sexual response cycle.
The researchers used an online survey tool to survey adults over 18 who reported previous recreational marijuana use. The survey included demographic questions followed by a scale to measure sexual functioning and satisfaction concerning cannabis use.
Ultimately, the study’s results provide new data with useful implications about cannabis and female sexuality. Medical consequences of this study include the possible prescribed use of cannabis for treating sexual dysfunctions, especially in women .
How cannabis can increase libido in women
Additional reports indicate that cannabis enhances the sexual experiences of many women . These surveys and other anecdotal evidence suggest that the proper dose of cannabis may affect orgasm intensity and sexual excitement.
Sexual medicine expert Dr. Becky K. Lynn recently told the New York Times that her patients come to her with complaints of low libido. These patients often report that cannabis usage makes a significant difference in their abilities to achieve orgasms and enjoy better sex. . Dr. Lynn says this may be partly because some cannabinoids enhance the senses and mitigate feelings that dampen a sexual experience (like pain and anxiety) which may have a positive effect on sexual experiences .
Because she received so many women reporting satisfactory orgasms and overall sexual health due to cannabis use, Dr. Lynn conducted a study at an obstetrics and gynecology practice in Missouri in 2019. She surveyed 373 women about cannabis, of which 34 percent reported an increased sex drive, improved orgasm, and decreased chronic pelvic pain after using cannabis . These survey results may not apply to everyone everyone since our bodies and systems are all different.
Cannabis, sex, and menopause
Menopause can usher in unwelcome obstacles to the libido, but many women find cannabis helps. According to the participants in a recent study, there were three top menopause symptoms that were alleviated by cannabis. Those were sleep problems, anxiety, and low libido. However, most women in the study reported increased sexual activity when using cannabis. Other self-reported sexual-related effects from cannabis use were: decreased vaginal dryness, increased desire, and increased satisfaction during sex .
Which cannabinoids affect desire and sexual arousal?
THC may be the most famous cannabinoid when it comes to increased intensity and sensitivity during sex. THC may amplify your sensations, making sex potentially extra enjoyable. But it also means that moderate doses of THC versus higher doses are essential if you are not an experienced user. In other words, increased sexual desire from THC is dose-dependent. Many experienced cannabis users report that lower doses improve desire.
But if THC’s trippy effects are not for you, you can choose a different cannabinoid, like cannabidiol (CBD), which is thought to decrease anxiety. For example, a CBD-infused massage oil might be just the thing to counter anxiety around sex. Some people enjoy a combination of THC and CBD to benefit from each cannabinoid.
CBD has been widely reported as a magical sexual cure-all. In reality, CBD may play second fiddle in the libido band, but the music would not be the same without it. In other words, CBD can contribute to enhanced sexual drive and enjoyment in various ways but is best employed alongside other factors, such as fostering supportive communication and emotional connection.
Check out the Top 8 Cannabis Strains to Supercharge Your Sex Life
So, how can CBD help enhance libido? People look to CBD for improved sexual experiences for a variety of reasons. One of the main ways is vasodilation. Vasodilation is a process whereby the blood vessels expand to allow more oxygen to muscles, increase blood flow, and facilitate natural lubrication .
While CBD is non-psychoactive, it may boost your mood by activating a neurotransmitter called anandamide, which may play a role in pain modulation, working memory, identification of novelty, hunger, sleep, and interpretation of your environment, but more research is needed to know how these effects may be widely applicable .
Nicknamed the “bliss neurotransmitter” because of its association with oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” anandamide can play a welcome role in sexual intimacy.
Learn more in the Guide to CBD
How much cannabis should I take before sex?
There are many reasons why people enjoy cannabis before sex. How much cannabis to take before sex depends upon the strength of the strain or product in question, the cannabinoids present, and what you hope to experience. Because the effects of different strains and products vary widely, it’s hard to recommend a specific amount or product for everyone. Nonetheless, most products provide suggested doses listed on the packaging.
But keep in mind, the strength of the effects will differ depending on the individual, their body weight, what food or other substances they may have in their system, and their unique body chemistry. Thus, it is recommended that you start with the lowest dose on the packaging (or less) and gradually increase it until you reach your desired results.
If you are smoking or vaping cannabis with THC, Dr. Jordan Tishler, president of the Association of Cannabinoid Specialists, advises his clients to start with 5 mg of THC or take just “one puff” before sex .
Read about the Best Cannabinoid Products for Sex
Are there any risks to women’s health?
If you smoke or vape cannabis, there are risks to lung and cardiovascular health. Additionally, with more frequent cannabis use (that includes THC), you can end up with drug intoxication, making you vulnerable to anxiety, paranoia, or poor decisions. The key to improving your sex life with cannabis is to take moderate doses. Heavy marijuana usage is sometimes even associated with sexual dysfunction, but more research is needed in this area.
For hemp and marijuana users who stick to infrequent and lower doses, there are generally few health risks.
Cannabis legality and the Farm Bills
After the 2014 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) list of Schedule 1 substances, the commercialization of cannabis took off. The bill designated cannabis with 0.3 percent or less Delta-9 THC federally compliant, allowing long-forbidden research to begin.
Expanding on the first, the 2018 Farm Bill allowed the production, sale, and consumption of hemp-derived products, making it clear to legal experts that all plant materials and substances derived from legally-defined hemp are federally compliant.
Federal legislation now defines cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent of Delta-9 THC per dry weight as hemp plants and allows hemp production and consumption in all 50 states. In contrast, a cannabis plant with more than 0.3 percent Delta-9 THC per dry weight is defined as marijuana, which federal law still treats as a controlled substance on the DEA’s Schedule 1 list. Even so, some states allow medical and adult recreational use of cannabis containing much more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC.
Thanks to the Farm Bills, many hemp-derived cannabis products are now legally available for medical and recreational purposes.
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Key takeaway about cannabis increasing libido in women
Questions regarding female sexual functioning are complex topics with no black-and-white answers. But with recent evidence and plentiful anecdotal reports, we can confidently draw a link between cannabis use and improved female sexual response. This means that for women who suffer from low libido and seek more sexual pleasure, this is great news.
Learn more in The Complete Guide to Cannabis and Sex
Medical Disclaimer / Legal Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not and is not intended to constitute legal or medical advice. We attempt to be accurate and up-to-date, but the legality of cannabinoids and the science of cannabis are evolving. The author is neither a legal professional nor a medical expert. Before buying or using any products, you should check with your local authorities and medical providers.
- The Endocannabinoid System
- The Influence of Cannabis on Sexual Functioning
- Cannabis for Better Sex? Here’s What the Science Says
- Cannabis for Menopause Symptoms
- The Effects of Cannabidiol
- Cannabidiol Enhances Anandamide Signals
- Marijuana, the Endocannabinoid System, and the Female Reproductive System
- Does Marijuana Increase Sexuality?
- Marijuana’s Unexpected Effects on Sex