For thousands of years, humans have used cannabis to spice up their sex lives. In ancient India, for instance, tantric sex practitioners believed that the herb increased libido, produced longer-lasting erections, and delayed ejaculation.
But what does science tell us about marijuana and sex? The truth is that while there is not a ton of hard data to definitively prove marijuana has aphrodisiac qualities, there is an emerging body of evidence to suggest that there might be a relationship between weed and great sex.
Marijuana contains the compound tetrahydrocannibidol, which is better known as THC. THC attaches to cannabinoid receptors in our brain, affecting our perception of pleasure. It produces an effect that is very similar to that of a neurochemical called anandamide, which is produced by your body and is also known as a “bliss molecule.”
How individuals react to THC depends on a host of variables, such as your familiarity with the drug, the setting, or your current mood. But many people report that marijuana is great for sex. In one 2016 study, approximately half of pot users reported feeling “aphrodisiac effects” after smoking pot, while 70% said they experienced “enhancement in pleasure and satisfaction.”
For men in particular, marijuana is purported to delay orgasm, and some guys have reported that marijuana can help them last longer. But that might not always be a good thing. According to researchers from LaTrobe University, men who smoke pot daily are four times more likely to have trouble reaching climax than men who do not smoke pot, though the authors of the study speculated that might be the result of men who experience ED over-self-medicating with the drug.
Some men have also reported that marijuana helps them achieve and maintain erections. But it might not be marijuana in itself that's resulting in this effect.
Dr. Thomas Green is a board-certified urologist who has treated men with erectile dysfunction for the past 38 years, and he says that anxiety can be a contributing factor for erectile dysfunction, particularly if there is no identifiable physiological cause. While he says we still have “much to learn about the effect of cannabis on erections,” there’s some evidence to suggest that low doses of marijuana can decrease anxiety, which can play a role in helping to maintain erections.
“If we look at the effects of anxiety on erections, it appears that anxiety can cause intermittent impotence,” he said. “Therefore, on an anecdotal basis, I would recommend moderation to increase the odds of erectile success.”
That said, some research suggests that marijuana might not be as beneficial to erectile strength as we think. One Canadian study of monkey penises and marijuana (yup, really) found that high doses of THC decreased the ability of the smooth muscle of the erectile body to contract, making achieving erections less likely. (Smaller doses showed no change in erectile strength.)
The bottom line? The research on marijuana and sex is often self-contradictory, and making sense of it can be exasperating. What we do know, however, is that the effects of marijuana vary from person to person, so one person’s libido booster could be another person’s boner-killer.