What effect does marijuana have on sexual function? Surprisingly little research has addressed this question, and the few studies that exist have produced conflicting results. For example, while survey research has found that many men say marijuana increases their sexual stamina , animal studies have found that cannabis seems to inhibit erections in male rodents . So which is it? Does marijuana help or hurt sexual performance? And are the effects similar for men and women?
A new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine offers further insight into the potential sexual side effects of marijuana by exploring how use of this drug is related to sexual frequency . To the extent that marijuana has a detrimental impact on sexual functioning, it would seem logical to predict that marijuana users would report having less sex than non-users. But that isn’t what this study found.
Before we get to the results, let’s back up and talk about the methods. Researchers examined data from three cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth—a nationally representative US survey that is carried out regularly. In total, data were available for just over 51,000 American men and women.
Participants were asked about their frequency of marijuana use (specifically, how often they smoked it) over the last year, as well as their frequency of sexual intercourse over the last month. I should mention that this study only looked at frequency of sex with an opposite sex partner, so the results don’t tell us anything about same-sex activity.
Approximately 1 in 4 men and 1 in 7 women said they’d used marijuana in the last year. So how was marijuana use linked to sex? Generally speaking, the more frequently people smoked marijuana, the more often they got it on. This was true for both men and women.
Female marijuana abstainers said they had sex 6 times in the last month, compared to 7.1 times for daily smokers. For men, the numbers were 5.6 for abstainers and 6.9 for daily users. In other words, the most frequent marijuana smokers were having sex about one more time per month compared to those who didn’t use the substance at all—roughly a 20% increase.
The big question is, of course, why. And that’s something we can’t say for sure based on these data.
One possibility is that marijuana enhances sexual arousal. And some research suggests that it can. For example, some users say the drug makes them feel sexier or more attractive.
However, it’s also possible that marijuana users are different in some way and that this difference is why they have more sex. For example, maybe people who use marijuana frequently have different or more relaxed attitudes toward sex. If so, it’s possible that these folks would be having more sex regardless of whether they were using marijuana.
In short, the conclusion here is not that you should be smoking more weed if you want to have more sex. We need more research to understand the connection.
Lastly, it’s important to highlight that marijuana is a drug that can have very different effects on different people. There are also different strains of marijuana that affect the body differently, and the dosage of the drug matters a lot, too. What all of this means is that the effects of marijuana on sex aren’t necessarily simple and straightforward--the story is probably pretty complex.
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 Halikas, J., Weller, R., & Morse, C. (1982). Effects of regular marijuana use on sexual performance. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 14(1-2), 59-70.
 Shamloul, R., & Bella, A. J. (2011). Impact of cannabis use on male sexual health. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8(4), 971-975.
 Sun, A. J., & Eisenberg, M. L. (2017). Association Between Marijuana Use and Sexual Frequency in the United States: A Population-Based Study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 14(11), 1342-1347.
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