Cannabis and Sex: A Primer
We’ve all heard it before: high sex is awesome. It’s old news, really– Tantra anyone? We’ve only just begun to scientifically understand the plant in all its complexities. Historic texts from disparate cultures around the world suggest that cannabis has been regarded as a sacred plant of many uses for a long time. Each day we hear and learn more about cannabis’ ever-broadening therapeutic potential, but precious little has been done on the subject of cannabis and sex.
Let me first begin with a disclaimer: cannabis use during sex is not for everyone. Both cannabis and sexual activity can raise heart rate, which could be problematic for those with preexisting heart problems.
CANNABIS AND SEX
A lot of research needs to be done before we can understand the mechanisms by which cannabis affects the sexual experience. We know that our bodies’ endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a role in regulating mood, pain and pleasure, so supplementing our bodies with plant-based cannabinoids could potentially have some pretty big implications for intimacy.
Being high during intimacy can be a profound departure from the norm, both mentally and physically. As a budtender, I often hear feedback expressing that the right strain can seriously ease one’s mental state; that it can increase arousal, sensitivity, and help people be more attentive, present, playful or silly in bed (so don’t be afraid to ask us anything. Seriously.) With sex, just like in other contexts, weed can help us have more fun, be more present, and connect on a deeper level with our partners. And, as any smoker knows, cannabis is great at helping us forget things. Forgetting can be immensely helpful in the bedroom– even if it’s only temporary: the high makes it easy to forget your bad day, your last argument, your insecurities, tension, and to refocus on your immediate environment: your sex den.
Physically, cannabis may help to increase arousal and stimulation. Of course, the sensation of a “high” is complex and individual, but from literature old and new (check out some of the links throughout this post) it’s easy to see how some of the broad basics can apply to the bedroom. It can heighten our senses, slow our perception of time, and relax the muscles (notably those of the vagina, which theoretically could help with soreness), which could all facilitate better sex — and longer foreplay. According to one 2016 study, a majority of women who had tried cannabis before sex found it to make their orgasms and overall sexual experience more pleasurable.
For those who want a less intoxicating experience, cannabis-infused personal lubricants can be a game changer. You can find some that are CBD-only, and don’t carry much chance of a high. Just be mindful that anything with THC applied to the mucous membranes of the vagina could enter your bloodstream, and thus has the potential to result in a very mild intoxication (as well as a tantalizingly tingly vagina). Cannabis lubricants and sensual oils can be applied both vaginally and rectally, before, during, and after sexual activity. And, considering some preliminary research on receptors in our tissues and skin, cannabis-infused products could one day prove to be helpful in addressing various types of vaginal and pelvic pain.
Sex can often be a source of both pain and anxiety, especially for women. Many believe cannabis use could be a viable way to relieve some of that anxiety, which has some huge clinical implications: the plant is currently of particular interest in research as a potential treatment for anxiety, depression, and PTSD. In theory, cannabis (when dosed appropriately) could have a positive effect on sex-related anxiety, unlike many SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) whose side-effects commonly include sexual dysfunction and loss of libido.
Weed is potent these days, and dosing can be difficult– the difference between an easy, sensual high is ever only a few puffs (or nibbles) away from lethargy or sedation. As always, know your dose. Here’s a refresher on dosing and comfortable consumption.
PRODUCTS TO LOOK FOR AT FARMA
For those who enjoy smoking and vaporizing, inhalation of the right chemotype about thirty minutes beforehand (allowing time for the initial intensity of the high to subside a little bit) is ideal. Look for citrusy smelling cultivars high in limonene, which may be helpful for getting in the mood, or (and) beta-caryophyllene for added anxiety relief. Tangelo Haze, Lemon Betty, Tropicana Cookies, and Voyager #1 are great places to start. For those sensitive to THC, try finding your ideal ratio by blending in some CBD-rich flower.
Watch out for cultivars high in carene, a terpene thought to have astringent qualities that could potentially create a cottonmouth-like effect exactly where you don’t want it. Smell for its pungent, earthy, juniper-like aroma, and avoid cultivars like Dutch Treat, Jack Herer and Durban Poison.
If you like sweet treats and a heavier, longer-lasting experience, you might try some edibles about an hour or so beforehand. Periodic Edibles and Wyld both make energizing, terpene-enhanced 5mg bites infused with plenty of limonene to keep you going. New users and THC-sensitive folks might prefer something more along the lines of a 3:2 CBD-rich blend, like this Sour Orange popping candy by Junk.
Pro tip: a nice cannabis-infused massage can be the perfect muscle primer while you wait for the edibles to kick in.
Empower makes a ph-balanced sensual oil that may help increase sensitivity, alleviate minor aches or pains, and generally make sex more comfortable, whether it’s with a partner(s), yourself, or your toy kit. It’s nitrile and silicone safe, but unfortunately does not work with latex condoms or toys. Luminous Botanicals has a line of versatile oil-based tinctures in three different THC:CBD blends that can be used sensually, topically (read: massage) or by ingestion. Again, anything oil-based is a no-go for condoms.
So to wrap things up (pun intended), always practice safe sex, make sure your heart is healthy enough for cannabis and sexual activity, swing by the shop and ask your budtender all the questions, and finally, for God’s sake, try some weed lube.