BY MARIA DEL RUSSO
Over the past few years, the sex and cannabis industries have collided, as evidenced by the many crossover products that have flooded the market: Cannabis lube and CBD massage oils are designed specifically to spice things up in the bedroom, and they’re all the rage. But when you take a step back, you realize these products are geared toward folks with an active sex life. What about those of us going through a dry spell? Sure, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that weed can help your sex life, it still begs the question: Does cannabis increase libido?
Turns out the answer is both yes and no. Like sexuality in general, things are slightly complicated and not easily classifiable. “While I wouldn’t say that cannabis necessarily enhances your libido like an aphrodisiac—libido is a complicated term as is— it does help set the mood for sex,” says Ashley Manta, sex and relationship coach and founder of the brand CanaSexual.
In fact, there are few things that you can consume that will actually improve your libido on a chemical level, despite all the ads in your Instagram feed and those junk messages in your spam folder. Promises of miracle cures for a problematic sex life—be it subpar orgasms for women or low sex drive in men—are everywhere,and supposed male libido supplements are especially ubiquitous. And then you have the more “organic” fixes. People often point to oysters, chocolate, or warming spices like cinnamon, but there isn’t much science that proves they can actually boost a person’s libido. Same goes for cannabis. Ultimately, the best way to truly improve your libido would have to involve something like hormone therapy, sexual counseling, or exercise.
All that said, there are plenty of things that can set a romantic mood, which naturally increases and encourages sexual feelings, thus improving your overall sexual satisfaction, and in that regard, cannabis can asbolutely play an integral part in improving your sex life. And the ways in which it enhances sex are, according to Manta, myriad for both men and women.
“Cannabis can help address the things that are getting in the way of pleasure, connection, and intimacy,” says Manta. One of the most pressing issues that gets in the way of pleasure? Pain. “People who have pain either in their bodies on the whole or located to their genitals can find help from cannabis.” Sexual assault survivors suffering from ailments like vaginismus—the involuntary contraction of muscles in the vagina—may find that cannabis can help relax them ahead of sex. “People who are postmenopausal may experience dryness and tissue fragility because of the hormone fluctuation,” Manta says. “Cannabis can help with that.”
Cannabis can also help trans people immensely. “Taking testosterone [for female-to-male transition] can change your vulva and your vagina,” Manta says, so using cannabis can be particularly helpful in such situations.
Aside from pain relief, though, cannabis also serves to help get you outside of your head—an especially big issue for female-presenting individuals when they have sex. “We have so much shame and so much shut-down pleasure in our lives, because of society, religion, and voices from the media telling us our bodies are imperfect,” Manta says. “These things can get stuck in our brains and affect how we experience sex.” Cannabis, she says, can help neutralize that. “It helps you to get out of your head and into your body,” she says.
Clearly, weed and sex often get along delightfully. The next question: how should you use it?
“Cannabis oils and lube are great for people with vaginas who want to experience less pain, less dryness, and heightened sensitivity,” Manta says. Not only does it ensure you’re using a lubricant, which can vastly improve sex, but the cannabis in the lube can help heighten the pleasurable sensations. Two birds, one stone.
Unfortunately, though, the same can’t be said for men. “From what I can tell, oils don’t tend to be super effective on penises,” Manta says. The reason is because penises don’t have exposed mucosa like vaginas do—and that’s where the oils and lubes are quickly absorbed, so for men, it means you have to give the product more time to kick in. (It’s a similar situation to using a CBD or THC cream on a sore muscle—it’s rubbed in and left on, and it can take a while to work.)
There are many other ways you can use cannabis to spice things up. Smoking flower is the most accessible and widely-practiced consumption method, and it gets Manta’s co-sign. “One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is what strain of weed is good for sex,” she says. “I’m not really into suggesting strains, however, because a strain that works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for you.” (In fact, Manta believes the types of strains are fairly indistinguishable at this point, and are used purely for marketing purposes.) Instead, she suggests testing a new strain out via masturbation. “If you enjoy it there, you’ll probably enjoy it during penetrative sex,” she says. Start small—a hit or two might be all you need, and you don’t want to get so blitzed that you can’t enjoy the sex.
Manta is more of a fan of tinctures, though—especially if you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy smoking. “They offer much more precise dosing than a typical edible,” she says. “And since they are placed under the tongue, they have a faster onset.” Tinctures are extracts that are usually suspended in liquid, and are so precise that manufacturers can tell you down to the drop how much you’re using.
Edibles, on the other hand, can be wildly unpredictable, which is why Manta doesn’t really suggest using them. “The dosing is unreliable, and the time commitment is bad,” she explains. Edibles can take up to two hours to take effect, depending on how quickly you metabolize them. And once they do take effect, the sensations can last for six to eight hours. “That’s typically way too long for people looking to utilize the sensations during a sexual encounter,” she says. Edibles also tend to be higher on the milligram scale than a tincture, and there’s no telling how the cannabis might mix with the rest of the recipe. So you can’t really be sure what you’re getting.
But after you figure out exactly which form of ingestion works for you, Manta almost guarantees an improvement in sex and sensation. “Remember that it doesn’t always have to be about sex,” she says. “Infused baths or massage oils can create a sexy interlude that can sometimes be more enjoyable than the sex itself.” That’s typical advice about sex in general, too: It’s more about the journey than the destination. So if you’re looking to get outside of your head and into your body, try lighting a joint or using a vape before your next romp—just make sure to stop by a MedMen dispensary when you stock up.