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There are tons of reasons to add a little cannabis into your sex life, even if you’ve never considered touching the stuff otherwise. And if you’ve never considered letting cannabis touch you—no vaping, smoking, or ingesting required—you’ll also want to hear about the wide range of weed-infused topical products that might give your bedroom routine an herbal enhancement.

Throughout its centuries-long reputation for promoting relaxation, cannabis can also be used to boost your sex life—whether you consider yourself good in bed, need a little help, or are just looking for new and pleasurable experiences. Here are some guidelines to get you started, from safety, to efficacy, to the different methods of incorporating cannabis into your sex life.

What science says about sex and cannabis

Using substances specifically for their sexual benefits is sometimes called chem sex, but cannabis isn’t always included in this mix, perhaps because it’s far more benign than other drugs people use in the bedroom. The worst that can happen is getting a little too high—it’s generally not going to cause any major physical symptoms, or make you physically ill like alcohol or other drugs can. While people do report queasiness from being too stoned, it’s a temporary state that generally doesn’t require medical attention.

Cannabis’s medical benefits are under-researched, but there’s a perhaps not-so-surprising amount of study into its effects on sex. Focusing on the biological response (especially in those with penises) showed mixed results—researchers couldn’t exactly determine whether cannabis inhibits the physical arousal response or enhances it. Many chalk this up to the subjective nature of both the experience of sex and the experience of cannabis, both of which are dependent on an individual’s body chemistry, current mood, and past experience. Some studies note lowered inhibition and focus on the mental health benefits of cannabis used before sex, in all genders and with all genders of partners.

The most compelling argument in its favor comes from this 2023 study on sexual satisfaction, in which 70% of an 811 persons selection reported stronger orgasms after using cannabis, as well as increased desire. While the study skewed white in its makeup of participants, it included folks from the queer community, and included a higher percentage of women (the historical bias having favored male pleasure), so you might conclude that no matter the pairing of partners, the results point to a better time for all.

Both THC and CBD have been studied for their effects on lowering blood pressure, which in turn increases blood flow—something you definitely want to happen during sex. You can access these cannabinoids via any of the form factors that cannabis comes in, from smoking, to eating, to vaping, but there is a growing market for topical products attracting attention too.

Pros and cons of using weed for sex

There are both big benefits and some drawbacks to using cannabis in the bedroom.

  • Pro: Hyper focus. Getting stoned makes it easier to ignore distractions and focus on your body, and the pleasure you’re feeling.
  • Con: Getting too stoned is no fun for a newbie, no matter the planned activity.
  • Pro: You know how food tastes better high? Sex feels better too.
  • Con: Side effects of overdoing it can include paranoia and motion sickness, so intimate, motion-based activities aren’t ideal in those cases.
  • Pro: Cannabis can help you get a new perspective—this can be game changing for longtime monogamous couples.
  • Con: Getting too sleepy is also a reality for some, so gauging how you respond to cannabis beforehand can help you avoid the slumber zone.
  • Pro: Increased sensation can lead to more frequent orgasms, a particular benefit for heterosexual cis women, who tend to report fewer orgasms during sex than their male partners.
  • Con: Lowered inhibitions from intoxicants like weed and alcohol can be what some people need to feel comfortable, while the opposite can be true for others. Make sure all parties have a clear understanding of what constitutes consent before you toke up.

How to get started with cannabis

Experienced users probably know when to dose before getting down, but for anyone who doesn’t, start slow, leaving about an hour before any planned activities when using edibles, and 15 minutes to right before for smoking or vaping. Inhaled cannabis hits faster and wears off more quickly, while edibles tend to take longer in both respects, so plan accordingly.

While smoking and vaping cannabis are some of the fastest ways to get cannabinoids into your bloodstream, they’re not an exact science when it comes to dosing. If you’re a novice, you’ll want the precision that comes from edibles with a pre-determined dose, which you can’t always get from combustible cannabis.

Cannabis safety revolves around source and dosage, but when it comes to topicals, you might want to pay a little extra attention to the ingredients in the product. Oil-based products are not condom safe, and lots of the scents and additional herbs used in some cannabis products aren’t great for those sensitive areas.

Access intimacy with cannabis

Whether it’s stress, bad health, boredom, or something else slowing down your sex drive, cannabis might kick it back into gear. Intimacy is an important part of human connection, and while not everyone is looking for that in their sex life, for some it’s a crucial part of the puzzle.

Psychotherapist and sacred sexuality practitioner Viviana Del Aguila Niebylski works in New York City to connect people to their sexuality in an affirming and healing way, and her clients report using cannabis to fight sex-hindering headwinds. “Those who report positive experiences [with cannabis] cite benefits such as feeling more embodied (present and connected with our bodies), increased sensitivity to relational dynamics, and increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli,” Del Aguila Niebylski told Lifehacker via email.

In other words, a good time should be the goal, and more and more people are finding cannabis is one potential way to get you there. According to Del Aguila Niebylski, “as access to safe, quality products like topicals or consumables increases, folks are excited to explore their options for enhancing pleasure and connection.”

If you experience sexual dysfunction

Cannabis is also experiencing a bedroom boom because of its potential to treat issues with arousal, pain during sex, or other issues. It holds some treatment potential for a few of the things that can make sex, well, hurt. Incorporating cannabinoid topicals as remedies for reproductive diseases and sexual dysfunction might be (sex) life-changing—but don’t self treat with cannabis if you are experiencing pain or trouble with sexual function.It’s important to speak with your doctor about underlying health conditions if you’re experiencing problems with discomfort or arousal in the bedroom, but weed is definitely a path to consider to deal with them. Conditions like endometriosis or fibroids can cause pain during or after sex, and a long list of things can drop libido, so don’t ignore your body if you tend to need cannabis for sex, versus just enjoying doing it with weed.

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