Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Cannabis is part of the mainstream, and these days, it seems like it may also be moving into the mainstream’s bedroom as well.
You don’t need to be into kink to have noticed the number of lubricants, topicals and other cannabis-infused boosters of sexual pleasure that have come on the market in recent years — in fact, many of them are readily available in the average dispensary.
During the last few decades, cannabis has been trending from hippie counterculture toward, well, everywhere else. In some states, it’s fully legal. And in many others, it’s readily available as medicine, instead of just being a festival or dorm room drug.
In 2017, a survey from The Washington Post found that 55 million American adults are frequent marijuana users. Regardless if you like to smoke weed or not, the drug is clearly here to stay and could very well be as legal as alcohol in the near future.
Within the medical marijuana movement, there are many claims — some more researched than others — about Mary Jane's medicinal qualities. And those claims are a mix of the good and the bad — for example, some even believe there's a connection between marijuana and hair loss.
But where does the medical community stand on weed as an aphrodisiac, or as a promoter of sexual arousal and sexual desire?
If you’ve wondered whether marijuana can improve your sex life, you’ve come to the right place for some answers (though there are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered).
Below, we’ve shared what current research says about weed as an aphrodisiac, and whether it can make you hornier, affect your testosterone or kill the mood. We’ve also shared some proven alternatives for those who think that sparking up is the only way they can get, ahem, something else up.
We’ll get right to it: while there’s a lot of information out there suggesting that weed can improve your sex life, nobody has come close to scientifically connecting weed and your libido, bro.
If you were looking for a definitive “yes,” well, so are a lot of researchers in the field.
So far, the evidence just isn’t substantial enough. However — and this is a big however — there are some really promising studies out that make interesting points:
People who use weed have more sex. A study of 50,000 survey respondents published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found a positive association between marijuana use and how often people were having sex — both men and women, in all demographic groups.
People who have sex while using marijuana say the sex is better — sometimes. A smaller survey of 200 participants showed that half of users consumed weed to alter their sexual experience, with many (but not quite most) saying that it improved their sexual experience some or all of the time.
Those are two great starts for weed’s benefit-in-bed argument. Unfortunately, using cannabis in bed gets a little harder to argue for when you ask specific questions about how it improves the sex.
There are all sorts of internet explainers claiming that weed increases sex drive. They’ll discuss cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors, and talk about how this indica or this sativa strain interacts with your brain.
Data, however, is pretty scant on whether weed makes you more aroused or turned on, or on the other hand, that it results in a low sex drive. While the data generally points in the direction of better sexual satisfaction, there’s almost nothing to connect it to “horniness” — and not just because that isn’t a medical term.
One study of 373 patients, for instance, does suggest that weed can increase arousal and performance and even lead to better orgasms, but it was limited to statements from a single office of medical practice — and it was all women.
We’re not saying that similar data wouldn’t come from a similar study conducted on men. However, no such study has been conducted yet, so we’ve got to call this anecdotal… at best.
A larger study from 2023 looked at more than 800 participants and found similar results, but it was primarily focused on women as well. The one additional point it made: results didn’t differ significantly among genders.
What does that mean for you? If weed is how you get turned on, great. But you’d probably be better served with some proven treatments for low libido and erectile dysfunction (ED).
In terms of the actual physiological effects of marijuana, the research is even more scarce.
A study that looked at the medical records of men from 2009 to 2017 found that while cannabis may not directly affect testosterone levels, it can cause a hormone imbalance that can affect your ratios of estrogen to testosterone. This type of hormonal imbalance can lower sperm count (and cause infertility), decrease sex drive and affect other bodily processes, but short drops associated with single cannabis sessions aren’t exactly a danger to your sex life in isolation.
More recently, a 2017 study found basically the opposite — that cannabis use leads to increased levels of testosterone.
Who are we to believe? It’s unclear. Most recently, a 2020 study of 5,000 men put a finer point on it — that THC use temporarily increases testosterone, but that increase gets smaller over time and the more you use THC. The authors of this study still called for further research though, noting unanswered questions and the limitations of their own research.
We wish we could give you more than a strong-ish maybe, but you’ll have to check back in a few years.
We’re not trying to be square here, but we do have to acknowledge that even though weed is a mostly harmless drug, it can cause some harm sometimes. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to marijuana and ED, for example.
Look fellas, there was a time when marijuana was grouped with much harder drugs like heroin, cocaine and psychedelics as dangerous and evil. Even though we’ve learned that marijuana generally isn’t that dangerous, the drug isn’t exactly harmless — and the things that most of us will acknowledge it can do to the body and brain aren’t great for your sex life.
Here are a few actual symptoms of frequent marijuana use:
Mood: Marijuana has a notable impact on people’s moods, and we’re not just talking about the desire to watch terrible movies. While some of us might feel more relaxed and cheerful after ingesting THC, others get more nervous and anxious. That’s not exactly a great place to be when you’re trying to get lucky, as anxiety can contribute to ED.
Memory loss: Frequent marijuana use can cause long-term memory loss and cognitive impairment. Also, frequent marijuana use can cause long-term memory loss and cognitive impairment. Kidding aside, we’re pretty sure you want to remember sex, right?
Appetite: Munchies are no joke. Research has found that THC enhances one’s sense of smell and causes your brain to release more dopamine when eating. While more dopamine may also be the cause of better orgasms, bad snacking habits can lead to health issues like weight gain, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, etc. — things your erections can’t stand.
Breathing: In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in different ways to ingest marijuana, like edibles, THC pills and the use of vaporizers (and their dorkier cousins, vapes). Smoking marijuana has been connected to bronchitis, a weakened immune system and an increased risk of infections, and it is also believed that the smoke inhaled from marijuana contains many of the same carcinogens, irritants and toxic chemicals as tobacco smoke. Legalization aside, it’s still something you should keep in mind if you’re a regular toker.
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We know what you’re thinking: “Okay nerds, but help me out here — what’s the best weed for sex?” We don’t know man — smoke whatever you got?
Or maybe don’t smoke whatever you got. If you’ve been paying attention so far, you might get the sense that weed is categorically not better or worse for sex. That means that a lot of what goes into picking the best marijuana for sex is going to be highly subjective.
Anything that makes you pass out, obsess over your munchies or become catatonic or paranoid is probably not great for things like intimacy, vulnerability, deep human connection or staying awake for sex, generally.
This field is frankly so new that it would be hard to believe anyone’s recommendations of what strains to stock in the bedroom, you know?
Here’s our unscientific take: if you enjoy smoking weed and having sex, keep on enjoying it. If you’re not sure, talk to your partner about giving it a try. If you don’t feel horny or sexy when you smoke, don’t try to force it.
Sex is already a subjective experience — everybody likes what they like and people like different things — so do what makes you happy.
The answers to many of these questions aren’t here, yet.
Weed may lower your inhibitions or improve your sexual performance, and the use of cannabis may make masturbation and partner play awesome for you.
But it may just as well not. Science can’t predict your outcome yet. All we can do, then, is give you some general advice and words of caution. So here they are:
The verdict is still out on marijuana as an aphrodisiac.
While some studies show promise and it seems there are plenty of anecdotal articles and blogs out on the ol’ information superhighway, the research about cannabis and libido is still lacking.
This doesn’t mean marijuana definitively isn’t an aphrodisiac or that it won’t do anything for your libido — we just need more conclusive research before we recommend you incorporate terpenes into your toy box or cannabis lubes into your sexual activity.
But marijuana won’t treat sexual dysfunction. If you’re experiencing ED, it's best to speak with your healthcare provider about what your options are.
If you view marijuana as enjoyable, then everyday activities like eating, watching TV or having sex are going to be more fun while you’re under the influence.
And if you have a lot of anxiety about sex and smoking a joint generally alleviates stress, marijuana may technically be an aphrodisiac for you.
That’s about the best advice we can give you regarding your weed and sex synergy.
Oh — one more thing. We're all for helping men figure out how to have better, more relaxed sex, but it's worth noting that there are plenty of physical issues that contribute to bedroom performance problems, not just psychological and emotional causes.
If you have physical causes of ED, sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra®, offers a more viable solution by helping blood flow to the penis. It's a clinically proven and verifiable way to help you achieve and maintain an erection. It’s one of the many ways we can help you treat erectile dysfunction.
Just don’t work through this while high — weed should be reserved for pleasure time.