Cannabis and Sex May be the Perfect Pairing for Women

Matt Weeks November 5, 2019 0 comments

The latest studies directly connect the endocannabinoid system with a good sex life and women benefit the most.

New scientific literature published in Sexual Medicine Reviews paints the most definitive picture yet of how cannabinoids effect female sexual function. Thanks to reams of research data spanning from 1970 to now, we finally have real insight into the relationship between sex and cannabis.

The authors poured over twenty human and animal studies in peer-reviewed journals before distilling all the relevant information. The result is the best, most agreed-upon evidence we have to explain how cannabis affects sexual arousal and performance.

This is the most scientifically accurate accounting of sex and cannabis ever compiled. And the results, which mostly examine the female body’s reaction to cannabinoids, are astounding.

attractive woman smoking cannabis

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Sex and Cannabis

If you ask the average cannabis patient about sex and cannabis, you’ll probably hear that the herb can enhance sexual pleasure and increase arousal. It’s a trope that is deeply entrenched in popular culture, showing up everywhere from movies to online sex advice columns.

But anecdotal evidence is only the starting point for science. Instead of merely accepting that cannabis and sex go together well, it’s better if we can understand why. That means delving into the mechanisms responsible to gain better insight into why the two work together. But, also why cannabis and sex sometimes aren’t compatible.

The biggest takeaway from the review is that cannabis enhances both arousal and pleasure in females. The outcomes, however, vary depending on dosage. In many cases, a smaller dose of cannabis may actually be more optimal for enhancing sexual pleasure and desire. While a larger dose may impede some of the effects.

The exact dosage will depend on the person, but it’s easy to remember that getting “too high” might be bad for your sex life.

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sex and cannabis represented by young couple lighting joint on a beach at night

Cannabis is an Aphrodisiac

One of the first studies undertaken to examine cannabis as an aphrodisiac and pleasure enhancer happened in the 1970s. It was only a survey of sexually active adults who had consumed cannabis. However, it laid the foundation for the future direction of research on cannabis and sex.

The paper, published in The Journal of Sex Research (1974), concluded, “It seems conceivable that marijuana, with suitable psychological and sociological conditions, and taken in a light to moderate dose releases inhibitions to the extent of being termed ‘aphrodisiac.’”[1]Koff, W. (1974). Marijuana and Sexual Activity. The Journal of Sex Research, 10(3), 194-204. Retrieved June 25, 2020, from

Even in the 1970s, we recognized the concept of the cannabis edge — the point after which benefits decline and detriments begin. The survey showed that women who used small to moderate amounts of flower cannabis reported more arousal. Not to mention a greater number of orgasms, and a quicker time to orgasm.

Without hard data, the author could only report on the admissions of survey respondents. But he speculated that cannabis’ effect on sex could be as much psychological and it was physical. Was it a release of inhibitions that made sex better, or was there a physiognomic change?

sex and cannabis represented by young couple laying down and hugging happily

The Endocannabinoid System and Sex 

In the mid 1970s, scientists didn’t yet know that the human endocannabinoid system existed. Its discovery ushered in a new era for research on cannabis and sex — one that is just now beginning to be fully explored.

Endocannabinoids is the name scientist gave to naturally occurring cannabinoids in the human body. The endocannabinoid system runs throughout the body, mostly in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Cannabinoids in the central nervous system help govern appetite, mood, immune response, and other vital functions. Cannabinoids in peripheral nervous systems have a little more fun.

Scientists discovered cannabinoid receptors in organs that create sex hormones, such as the adrenals in men, and the ovaries in women. These are responsible for producing estrogen, progesterone, and androgens.

We also know that the same cannabinoids present in sex organs also affect the body’s production and distribution of pleasure neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.

Add those together and you can begin to understand why cannabis’ effects on sex mightn’t be strictly in the mind. The truth is that sex while on cannabis may be more physically rewarding.

Learning from Animals

Some of best physical evidence we have of the relationship between sex and cannabis comes from animal studies. While these may not translate to humans with one hundred percent accuracy, the results of animal testing on things like cannabis and tumors have proved to be instructive and prescient.

sex and cannabis two women stare lovingly at each other

One study published in Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior (2011), found that giving females hamsters medium-sized doses of the cannabinoid THC improved their willingness to engage in sex in a strictly non-hormonal fashion. What does that mean? In layman’s terms, female hamsters simply got more turned on after taking cannabis — and the effect did not involve an increase of their hormone levels. It was strictly a biological change caused by the cannabis.

Another study found that male rats had decreased sexual activity after taking large doses of THC. This could be because cannabis affects males differently or because the dose was simply too big to create a positive sexual effect.

What these studies tell us is that there is a definite connection between cannabis and sex. We know that there are effects from cannabis that may vary between the sexes and from person to person. In most instances, taking a little herb before sex will enhance the experience — especially for women. But, as always, more research is welcome.


Author avatar

Matt Weeks

A writer living and working in Athens, GA, Matt's work has appeared in various newspapers, books, magazines and online publications over the last 15 years. When he's not writing, he hosts bar trivia, plays in local bands, and makes a mean guacamole. He holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master's degree in organizational theory. His favorite movie is "Fletch."

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