The most fulfilling sex comes from awareness of the sensations you and your partner are sharing. Perhaps that’s stating the obvious, but some people struggle to find that sweet spot and enjoy a little boost to get out of their heads and fully back in their bodies. Enter cannabis. Cannabis can provide this heightened awareness and help you not only tune in to your own body but also that of your partner.
But here’s the tricky part. There are so many cannabis strains and products currently on the market it’s hard to know what to reach for when choosing your pre-sex rituals.
The first step is to get to know your cannabinoids. Then, with knowledge, you can choose the best cannabis products for your specific needs as you identify which cannabinoids each product contains. Read on to discover which cannabinoids comprise the best ingredients for fantastic sexual experiences.
What are cannabinoids?
Research is still developing when it comes to cannabinoids, but little by little, we’re learning how powerful they can be. Essentially, cannabinoids are compounds found in the cannabis plant which have the ability to initiate changes in your body. Some cannabinoids are associated with pain perception while others are thought to provide euphoric effects, increased blood flow, mood-boosting effects, or full body relaxation. Furthermore, certain cannabinoids are reported to enhance sexual pleasure.
There are over 480 different compounds present in cannabis, and at least roughly 100 are cannabinoids. One of the most well-known among these compounds is Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9 THC), which is the main psychoactive component in cannabis strains. Additionally, many people know and love the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), which comprises about 40% of the plant resin extract and is non-psychoactive .
Some of the other lesser-known and less-studied cannabinoids include:
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- Cannabinol (CBN)
- Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
- Cannabicyclol (CBL)
- Cannabielsoin (CBE)
- Cannabitriol (CBT)
All told, some of the main ways cannabinoids are differentiated from one another are their degree of psychoactivity and the presence of other potential benefits they offer. CBG, CBC, and CBD, for instance, are not known to be psychoactive agents whereas THC, CBN, and CBDL seem to have varying degrees. As THC oxidizes it converts into CBN, which may possess less-potent mood altering effects than THC.
CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis and has anecdotally been reported to relieve pain, increase blood flow, and provide stress-relieving effects .
What is the endocannabinoid system?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a network of chemical signals and receptors operating throughout the human brain and body, It appears to affect almost every aspect of our functioning, including physical sensations like sexual desire and sexual function. The ECS has a unique relationship with cannabis because of the interplay between the endocannabinoid receptors and the cannabinoids found in cannabis.
Our body’s natural receptors get activated by our body’s endocannabinoids: molecules that have a structural similarity to cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. These cannabis-like molecules affect everything from our perception of pain to how a flower smells to the sensations of sexual activity. Similarly, the effects of the cannabis plant occur when cannabis molecules (cannabinoids, or phytocannabinoids) mimic our bodies’ endocannabinoids and engage with our cannabinoid receptors .
These cannabinoid receptors are composed of CB1 and CB2 receptors and are stimulated by either endocannabinoids (made by our body) or phytocannabinoids (made by plants). Influencing neural activity in response to things like hunger, sexual desire, or temperature, the cannabinoids manipulate our physical and psychological experience. CB1 receptors regulate most of the psychoactive effects of certain cannabinoids, whereas CB2 receptors are linked with anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive responses .
History of cannabis and sex
The marriage between cannabis and sexual experience can be found throughout the ages. Seventh-century India, for example, featured cannabis-infused tantric sex rituals in the Kama Sutra. Likewise, the pagan love goddess Freya was closely associated with cannabis use in pre-Christian Scandinavia. Inhabitants believed that those who consumed it would be imbued with Freya’s seductive powers .
Even Victorian Europeans were hip to cannabis use, maintaining that using it would promote happy marriages. Across the Atlantic in the US, cannabis was touted as an aphrodisiac that would improve a person’s sex life. The Pharmacopeia, a publication from the late 1850s to 1940s, advertised cannabis pills and extracts. These concoctions were recommended by doctors for “stimulating the sexual appetite” and countering “sexual torpor,” a condition marked by the lack of sexual desire .
But the late 1930s ushered in an era of “Reefer Madness,” prompting the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics commissioner Harry Anslinger to claim that cannabis turned women into nymphomaniacs who sought “relations with Negros and entertainers. ” This sexist and racist rhetoric spread fears about cannabis use. Soon, it became a Schedule I controlled substance.
Thanks to cannabis activists and scientists, many forms of cannabis have since been decriminalized. Though marijuana is still a controlled substance in many states, hemp-derived products are federally compliant and now legally available for widespread purchase and use .
Research about cannabis and libido
Though more research is needed, numerous surveys indicate that cannabis enhances female and male arousal . The right dose, these surveys suggest, may yield more intense orgasms, increased sex drive, and enhanced satisfaction.
Doctors weigh in on what their patients report. For example, Dr. Becky K. Lynn, a sexual medicine expert, told the New York Times that her patients come to her with complaints of low libido but report that their use of cannabis helps them achieve orgasms and overall sexual satisfaction .
To discover how widespread these effects were, she conducted a study at an obstetrics and gynecology clinic at Missouri’s St. Louis University in 2019 where she surveyed 373 women about how cannabis affected their sex lives, of which 34 percent reported an increased sex drive, improved orgasm, and decreased sexual pain after using cannabis .
Top cannabinoids for sex
Since research on most of cannabis’ cannabinoids is still in its infancy, there is still a lot to learn about how specific cannabinoids affect the human body. However, there is a wealth of anecdotal reports, and even some limited scientific research, about how CBD, THC, and CBG offer sex-enhancing effects.
CBD and sexual experience
Since CBD is thought to quell inflammation, promote relaxation, and increase circulation, many believe it may, in turn, improve sexual function. There are edibles, topical creams, ointments, and lubricants available that capitalize on CBD’s apparent anti-inflammatory effects. For example, certain CBD products target women with problems such as endometriosis and other types of pelvic pain. Because some women find that THC may increase vaginal dryness, CBD-based lubes may be a pleasurable way to counter that side effect .
Can Delta-9 THC help you tune in to your partner’s body?
No question Delta-9 THC can lead to fantastic, soul-awakening sex. But for some, it can be a paranoia-inducing head trip: not a recipe for great sex. Thus, it’s important to access the THC content of the product and go easy on it until you know how you personally respond to the cannabinoid.
Delta-9 THC can amplify what you already feel, whether that’s sexual bliss or existential angst. But don’t worry. If you start low and go slow, as they say, you should be fine. Or, if you find it’s not for you, CBD is a great alternative and thought to reduce anxiety. Try a CBD massage oil or an Indica or Indica-dominant hybrid versus Sativa-dominant strain, which are associated with more relaxing, less heady effects to go along with the euphoric high.
Alternatively, hemp-derived products contain less than 0.3 percent Delta-9 THC, which is a small enough amount to avoid trippy side effects that you may wish to avoid.
Does CBG affect sex?
Some people swear by the energy-giving benefits of CBG, yet more research is needed to back up this anecdotal evidence. However, a 2020 study reported that CBG exhibits a meaningful level of antioxidant activity, though more research is needed . The research documented how CBG has the highest level of antioxidant activity of neutral cannabinoids, while CBGA performed better than CBDA and Delta-9 THCA in this regard. They attributed this difference to the phenolic groups in the compounds. Additionally, a combination of CBG/CBGA performed better at fighting the harmful effects of free radicals in the body than did CBD and Delta-9 THC.
What do these findings have to do with sex? Oxidative stress, caused by free radicals in the body, can deplete the secretion of hormones and cause hormonal imbalances. Thus, when this oxidative stress is minimized, hormonal secretions can facilitate better sexual function. In other words, when your body gets what it needs, you’re freed up to have better sex.
Popular strains for sex
The best cannabis strains for sex include a wide array of cultivars. The right strain can make a big difference in how you feel, so it’s important to do some hands-on research before you zero in on a single strain. An Indica strain or Indica-dominant hybrid strain, for example, might be preferable for people who struggle with anxiety around sex. It has been said to have more relaxing effects than a Sativa or Sativa-dominant hybrid strain. However, a balanced hybrid might be the perfect choice for others. When it comes to the best cannabis strains for sex, every individual is different.
Some of the best strains for sex include:
- Purple Punch
- Super Sour
- Hawaiian Haze
- Canna Cake
- Blue Dream
- Wedding Cake
- Granddaddy Purple
- Girl Scout Cookies
- Bubblegum Kush
- Amnesia Haze
- Sour Diesel
Cannabis, sexual pleasure, and orgasm
Though cannabis affects people in different ways, you’ll find a lot of people claiming that it enhances sexual pleasure and orgasms. Some studies have sought to substantiate these claims. For example, the conclusion of a study at the Standford Urology Department found that women who consume cannabis regularly report having better orgasms, higher arousal, and more sexual satisfaction overall .
Surveying 452 women, the researchers assessed the different ways cannabis affected their sex lives. The participants were asked to complete a Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) questionnaire designed to evaluate their sexual activity over the previous four weeks, breaking it down into six categories: desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain .
The researchers then compared the frequency of cannabis use to each participant’s score, ultimately finding that women who reported more frequent cannabis use had better sexual experiences and more satisfying orgasms. Their results indicated that increased frequency of cannabis use was associated with improved sexual function, and increased satisfaction, orgasm, and sexual desire. 
But what about the male orgasm? An East Carolina University study suggests that cannabis can improve sexual experiences for both men and women. The study reported that “participants perceived that cannabis use increased their sexual functioning and satisfaction” no matter the gender of the participant . Even so, cannabis products containing THC are rumored to delay male sexual climax , but further research is needed in this area.
Menopause and cannabis
Menopause can be a lot more miserable than many people realize. Indeed, the process sometimes leaves a woman’s sex life in the doldrums because of the loss of estrogen. Yet, cannabis has been shown to help many women find relief from the debilitating symptoms of menopause.
For example, could cannabinoids like CBD and THC help mitigate some of the difficulties of estrogen loss? These cannabinoids have been shown to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow . Effects like that could work wonders for perimenopausal and post-menopausal women who seek to recharge their sex lives. Additionally, some cannabinoids may enhance sensitivity or encourage relaxation, both welcome antidotes to some of the woes of menopause like fatigue, anxiety, or hot flashes.
A Harvard-led study published in the journal Menopause assessed patterns of cannabis use in 131 women in perimenopause — the period of time when estrogen begins to diminish before periods stop — along with 127 women who had already gone through menopause. Nearly 79% of the participants said cannabis eased their menopause-related symptoms, of which 67% said it helped them with insomnia and 46% that it improved mood and initiated pain-relieving effects .
How much should I take?
Though cannabis can be a welcome aphrodisiac for many, the dosage is key. How much you should take depends upon several factors: the strength of the strain, the cannabinoids present, and what you hope to experience. For example, the effects of different strains vary widely, so it’s impossible to recommend a specific amount across the board. Also, people’s systems respond differently to cannabis.
However, many products provide suggested serving sizes on the packaging, though the strength of 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 new users start with the lowest dose and then move up as needed.
You can achieve a milder effect by taking half or a quarter as much of the recommended dosage. In contrast, experienced users who know what effect cannabis has on their bodies can take more if desired. Ultimately, it’s a process of finding the right balance for your individual system.
Legality of cannabis
Thanks to the Farm Bills, a wide range of hemp-derived cannabis products are legally available even in states that do not have medical or recreational marijuana programs. But that wasn’t always the case.
The 2014 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) list of Schedule 1 substances, precipitating the widespread commercialization of cannabis. The Bill made hemp, which was designated as cannabis with 0.3 percent or less Delta-9 THC, federally compliant and allowed research to begin after almost a century of prohibition.
Expanding on the first Bill, 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 .
Hemp is now defined as cannabis plants with less than 0.3 percent of Delta-9 THC per dry weight, and hemp production and consumption is allowed nationwide. In contrast, a 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. However, some states allow medical and/or adult recreational use of cannabis containing much more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC.
Most people who seek the relaxing effects and sex-enhancing wonders of cannabis will be wise to look for products with these three cannabinoids: CBD, Delta-9 THC, and CBG. Beyond that, you’ll find no shortage of great products from gummies to lubes to good old-fashioned pre-rolls.
But remember, start slowly, especially with THC products, even when it’s a low amount that you may find in hemp-derived products containing 0.3 percent Delta-9 THC or less. And make sure you have the most important things in place first: a partner with whom you feel safe and an adventurous spirit.
Medical Disclaimer / Legal Disclaimer – Information is provided for educational purposes. It does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice 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.
- Clarke, R., & Merlin, M. (2016). Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany. University of California Press