Is cannabis best before sex, after, or both?

It may be safe to say that a lot of Americans partake in the joys of cannabis before sex. What’s not to love? It can increase blood flow, help promote relaxation, and make sensations extra delicious. But what are some of the top reasons people enjoy cannabis after sex? Let’s dive in and explore what folks are saying about why cannabis can be the center of the perfect post-sex ritual. Spoiler alert: hugs and weed may have more in common than you might imagine.

Does cannabis increase sexual desire?

Though researchers are just beginning to understand how cannabis affects sexual desire, sexual function, and sexual health, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence that shows how some people feel about the subject. For example, of 202 participants in a recent survey, 119 reported that cannabis increased their sexual desire, and 149 reported increased sexual satisfaction. In a linked study, 144 of 199 participants reported an increased sensitivity to touch, and 132 of 201 reported more intense orgasms [1].

It’s clear from these and other surveys that many people find cannabis a welcome addition to their sex life. But, there is less available information about how cannabis might add to your post-sex experience. Nonetheless, you don’t need to be a scientist to see how it might be beneficial this way. For example, some of the ways cannabis enhances sexual arousal and pleasure, like helping you to relax and connect with your partner, could also enhance your experience after sex.

The endocannabinoid system

The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex system that has evolved over millions of years. Its main role is to maintain homeostasis in the body. Scientists only discovered this system recently as they were exploring the effects of THC. During their research, they discovered that the system had remarkably similar structures to compounds in the cannabis plant. These similarities, they discovered, are what make the relationship between cannabis and the ECS so powerful [2].

Within the ECS, the body makes a class of chemicals called endocannabinoids that interact with endocannabinoid receptors, affecting bodily sensations and functions such as learning, memory, emotional processing, pain control, inflammatory and immune responses, sexual responses, and eating.

Likewise, the cannabis plant contains molecules that are structurally similar to endocannabinoids. These are called cannabinoids (or phytocannabinoids) and they engage with the ECS’s same receptors, altering bodily processes.

For instance, when someone consumes THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the cannabinoid receptor expression will likely initiate a psychoactive response and might give the user a sense of euphoria. By contrast, the cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol) will initiate a different kind of expression, that may relate to relief or relaxation. However, more research is needed to determine the precise effects of CBD.

CB1 receptors are cannabinoid receptors in the brain and modulate the effects of cannabinoids like THC. Providing continual feedback to other systems, these receptors turn up or down things that might need adjustments, like temperature, pleasure, or alertness [3].

CB2 receptors affect different experiences. Prevalent throughout our immune tissues, these receptors are important because they help us maintain healthy immune system functions. Additionally, cannabinoids and endocannabinoids interact with hormones and neurotransmitters that mediate sexual desire and behavior [4]. 

How cannabis could impact your post-sex experience

Imagine that you’ve had a delightful romantic experience with your lover. You lie back on the bed, happy and fulfilled. Though this can be a wonderful feeling, sometimes other feelings can creep in, like social awkwardness, residual pain, or even existential sadness. Some people find that cannabis can be a welcome friend in these moments.

First of all, cannabis gives you something to do to deflect from that twinge of emptiness or separation that you might feel. Lighting up a cannabis pre-roll, or enjoying a delicious edible infuses your moment with smells, tastes, and textures. Then, after the cannabinoids have done their delicate work, your body and mind might begin to relax and invite a deeper sense of connection with your partner. Tactile sensations may feel comforting and intimate again. Pain might dissipate and, depending on the cannabinoid, you may feel a blissful euphoria.

Of course, these experiences are just examples of what you might feel. Cannabis affects people in different ways, so it’s always important to start low and go slow if you are new to cannabis.

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THC might make you feel “high” but it’s not for everyone

Cannabinoids affect people differently. For example, THC can make a person feel reduced anxiety and euphoria or, especially at higher doses, more anxious. Therefore, if you’re curious about how it might affect you, start with a low dose.

Edibles are a great way to ensure that you have a specific amount going into your system versus smoking or vaping, which can be trickier to control dosage-wise. If you have never tried a THC edible before, start with a small amount. The container in which the edibles come should list how much THC is in each morsel and suggest a serving size (you can always consume less). After you take it, wait to feel the effect before taking more.

CBD, on the other hand, is not psychoactive, so it is not as crucial to start with such a low dose. Nonetheless, CBD can affect your brain and body in different ways so it’s still a good idea to start slowly. 

Does cannabis help you bond more with your partner after sex?

Needless to say, cannabis does not magically make a person fall in love as if a cannabis flower had been fastened onto cupid’s arrow. But, some people claim that it helps to take the anxiety away from social interaction. In other words, if you’re feeling relaxed and comfortable during and after a sexual experience, you’re likely to feel closer emotionally to the other person.

Researchers at the University of California recently discovered a link between the “love hormone” oxytocin and the effects that cannabis has on interpersonal bonding. Namely, oxytocin triggers the release of a neurotransmitter called anandamide, which activates brain receptors linked with happiness and motivation. In an animal study, mice were given marijuana, which stops anandamide deterioration. Then, the mice appeared to want to bond and spend time with the other mice in their group more often than the mice who were given a placebo [6]. If further research proves out these ideas, there is massive potential for human health at stake. 

The legality of cannabis and the Farm Bills

Marijuana and hemp both come from the cannabis plant, yet the Federal Government treats them differently. The 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills paved the way for new legal definitions of each of these plants. Ultimately, hemp has come to be legally defined as cannabis with less than 0.03 percent Delta-9 THC per dry weight. The rules around hemp dictate that “any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis” may be legally produced, sold, transported and used.

Put simply, cannabis with less than 0.3 % Delta-9 THC is defined as hemp, while cannabis with more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC is defined as marijuana. 

The key difference between the two plants is the type of cannabinoids traditionally associated with them. The most well-known cannabinoid in hemp is the non-psychoactive CBD, whereas, the most well-known psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana is Delta-9 THC. But, Delta-8 THC, Delta-10 THC, and even Delta-9 THC may be derived from federally compliant hemp [7].

How does cannabis affect women before and/or after sex?

Among women who enjoy cannabis products, there’s no shortage of anecdotal evidence that points to its libido-enhancing qualities. For example, some women claim that THC-infused lubricants, edibles, and flowers increase sexual enjoyment and sexual pleasure, and even yield more satisfying orgasms.

Some sexual health advocates have built entire careers on cannabis-enhanced intimacy. But is there truth behind the hype? While researchers are still working to tease out the relationship between cannabis and sex, a growing body of evidence indicates there is a very real connection. For example, one of the latest surveys asked women who use marijuana about their sexual experiences and found that frequent cannabis use heightened sexual arousal, orgasm intensity, and sexual satisfaction [8].

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The survey’s results

This report published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, stated “Our results demonstrate that increasing frequency of cannabis use is associated with improved sexual function and is associated with increased satisfaction, orgasm, and sexual desire.”

The team of researchers came to these conclusions by analyzing online survey results from 452 women. They asked participants about their cannabis use and had them fill out a Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) survey, (a questionnaire intended to assess sexual function over the previous four weeks). The scores were related to six specific domains, including:

  • Desire
  • Arousal
  • Lubrication
  • Orgasm
  • Satisfaction
  • Pain

To summarize their results, the authors of the report wrote, “To our knowledge, this study is the first to use a validated questionnaire to assess the association between female sexual function and aspects of cannabis use including frequency, chemovar, and indication.”

The results did not indicate whether or not the participants perceived better post-sex intimacy, yet it did note that cannabis helped to reduce anxiety. “As many patients use cannabis to reduce anxiety,” the report said, “it is possible that a reduction in anxiety associated with a sexual encounter could improve experiences and lead to improved satisfaction, orgasm, and desire. Similarly, THC can alter the perception of time which may prolong the feelings of sexual pleasure.”

Emphasizing the connection between cannabis and happiness, the report noted, “CB1, a cannabinoid receptor, has been found in serotonergic neurons that secrete the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a role in female sexual function. Thus activation of CB1 may lead to increased sexual function.” It follows that a decrease in anxiety and a boost in serotonin could create a positive effect on post-sex bonding along with enhancing the sex itself [8].

While enlightening, these surveys need to be reinforced by dedicated clinical studies. 

How does cannabis affect men before and/or after sex?

According to a recent study, some men who feel anxiety and shame during or after sex could benefit from cannabis use.

A recent study published in the journal Culture, Health, & Sexuality interviewed 41 men between 15 and 30 years old. The researchers interviewed them about their experiences using cannabis before and after sex over the past year. The majority of participants told them that using cannabis increased sexual pleasure and lowered their inhibitions. Additionally, they said it helped them feel less anxious and therefore, more intimate with their partner [9]. More research will add insights to these survey results. 

Wrapping up the top reasons people enjoy cannabis after sex

Though sexuality is a complex subject, it’s clear that many men and women experience not only an enhanced sex drive from cannabis use but also a more intimate connection with their partner surrounding the act itself.

There’s a lot of pressure and expectation around sex. Unfortunately, our culture’s messages about how we need to look or behave sexually can sometimes set the stage for our own shame and anxiety. Some of us have a hard time letting all that go when we move toward a sexual encounter. Mercifully, cannabis can help our minds and bodies remember that we can embrace our sexuality, and feel relaxed, connected, and fulfilled.

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 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.



  1. How Cannabis Alters Sexual Experience: A Survey of Men and Women
  2. The Discovery of the Endocannabinoid System
  3. The Endocannabinoid System – Essential and Mysterious
  4. Marijuana’s Unexpected Effects on Sex
  5. 7 Things About Edible Cannabis
  6. The Love Hormone and Weed Both Make You Bond with Others
  7. HIA Position Statement on Delta-8 and Hemp Cannabinoids
  8. Women Who Use Marijuana More Often Have Better Sex Study Says
  9. The sexualised use of cannabis among young sexual minority men: “I’m actually enjoying this for the first time”
  10. Can Weed Cause ED or Infertility?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Although cannabis is not considered a treatment for sexual dysfunction such as erectile dysfunction (ED), studies suggest that cannabis could support sexual health by increasing sexual desire and satisfaction [10].

Both of these cannabinoids have the potential to help with libido, but responses vary among individuals so personal experimentation may be the key to success.  

While everyone is different, in various surveys, many men and women report that using cannabis enhances their sex lives.