CBD intertwines with sex in ultramodern ways.
A growing roster of cannabis-based health companies, such as Foria, Quim, 1906 New Highs, and Privy Peach, have taken cannabidiol (CBD) and its laundry list of versatile uses into the bedroom. Various CBD-infused products have emerged on the adult market, promising to enhance sexual intercourse and create more intimacy between lovers. There's lube, satisfaction-boosting serums, post-coital relief oil, vaginal and anal suppositories, aphrodisiac chocolates, and the list goes on.
But what does CBD really do for your sex life?
A recent study by CBD and hemp resources website Remedy Review explores CBD's Effects on Sex. Surveying 5,398 Americans, researchers focused in on 502 (9.3%) who said they took CBD for sex with their current or previous partner. Of the respondents surveryed, 54% percent were men and 46% were women; 80% of respondents described themselves as straight, 16% as bisexual, and 3% as gay. The amount of milligrams each person ingested was not controlled, which is one issue with the study. Stricter dosage control and a larger pool of respondents would likely allow for more accurate findings.
At a glance, here's what the 502 adults surveyed said of using CBD during sex:
- 72% of men and 76% of women said they experienced stronger orgasms
- 66% of both men and women use CBD to alleviate sexual anxiety
- Men lasted 31% longer before orgasm
- Women reported being 33% faster to orgasm
- 57% report being “more satisfied” with their relationship
- 87% of men and women took CBD as a couple
- 69% are likely to continue to use CBD for sex
What do doctors and industry experts have to say about the study, and what research exists to back it up? We spoke to three experts in sex and cannabis use to add some context to these findings.
Pain, Inflammation and Increased Blood Flow
The survey found 26% use CBD to alleviate pain and soreness after sex. Of those, 39% found CBD “moderately to very” effective, 59% found it “slightly to somewhat” effective, and only 2% found it non-effective.
“For those with pain and inflammation, CBD may be playing a role,” said Adie Rae (formerly Wilson-Poe), Ph.D., a neuroscientist and Weedmaps scientific adviser. “We know that CBD can help with pain, and perhaps both systemic and topical CBD might be a treatment for vulvodynia or vaginitis, but we will need clinical studies to validate that possibility.”
Growing research shows that cannabinoids are great vasodilators, enhancing blood flow and, in turn, relaxing muscles. This effect is great for sex, for obvious reasons.
“THC is a well-known pain reliever, and CBD is a well-known anti-inflammatory, so both of these cannabinoids are working in a beneficial way to decrease any pain which a lot of people experience,” said Kiana Reeves, Director of Communication and Community Education at Foria. “Even if you don't experience pain, everyone can benefit the increase of blood flow.”
Women's health problems tend to be underreported because there's so much social stigma and shame around them. Seen as the most comprehensive study on sex, to date, the landmark “Sex in America: A Definitive Survey” published in 1994 estimated about 20% of women experience pain during or after sex, and those numbers increase to about 33% after menopause.
Cyo Nystrom, CEO and Co-founder of plant-based vaginal wellness company Quim, preaches the benefits of all cannabinoids for female sexual health. “The benefit is profound when you look at the percentage of people with vaginas that experience some pain during sex. When you use a topical, you're increasing blood flow to the clitoral-urethral-vaginal complex, which in turn increases sensation, arousal, and natural lubrication.”
Does CBD help to alleviate sexual anxiety in a psychoactive sense? From Rae's point of view, it depends on the dose. “Experimentally, in order for people to have measurably lower anxiety, they need to consume about 400 milligrams of oral CBD,” she explained. “I can guarantee that almost none of the 502 adults in this study consumed that much.”
Looking at anxiety, the study by Remedy Review found that 66% of both men and women use CBD to alleviate sexual anxiety, 61% of men and 57% of women said it helped with “performance worries,” 44% of men and 37% of women say CBD moderately treats sexual anxieties of poor body image.
“The brain is the biggest sex organ in our bodies,” Nystrom said. “It's not the penis, not the vagina, not the clitoris, it's your brain. CBD has shown it can definitely help with anxiety. If you have performance anxiety around sex, there are a lot of different reasons for that. It's worth getting down to the root causes. CBD may be a more holistic step towards that, as opposed to beta-blockers.”
Reeves has found similar anecdotes from Foria customers over the years. She explained it is actually “very common” for people to have mild sexual anxiety, which can appear in the form of difficulty connecting with themselves or connecting with their partner, to extreme sexual anxiety, which can dysregulate one's nervous system so severely that it inhibits them from having sex at all.
“One of the things your body shuts down when it's in a state of chronic anxiety is its libido,” said Reeves. “One aspect of cannabis and hemp is that both of them work with the nervous system to really bring stress levels down, which bring us into sensation.”
As far as the psychoactive effects of CBD goes, especially when ingesting small doses, Rae said it's mind over matter.
Why did CBD reportedly give 77% of people in the study the “courage” to explore different sexual outlets? “Placebo,” Rae said. “Not that the placebo effect is a bad thing. On the contrary, the perfect drug is one that does absolutely nothing except make you feel better, or in this case, more sexually satisfied. The placebo effect is actually a very important, measurable, and real psychological phenomenon. The placebo effect is actually quite powerful in medicine.”
Feature Image: CBD and Sex, Photo courtesy of Quim