Marijuana and the Female Orgasm
Women have long been left out of studies around sexual arousal and orgasm. Dr. Lee is here to explain why marijuana may be a safe and affordable way to increase libido and sexual pleasure in females!
Dr. Lee here.
Today we are talking about female sexuality and marijuana. This is a topic that patients will bring up occasionally and I am always happy to discuss it. I remember my residency days when a woman would ask the OB/GYN about ways to increase libido. Usually, advice would boil down to foreplay or manual stimulation, which is actually decent advice, but probably not what people are looking for as a response from the physician.
Personally, I knew what I really wanted to say, which was to suggest cannabis. Back then I was a powerless medical student so I wasn’t exactly keen to chime in with a “WHAT ABOUT WEED?!” But, these days marijuana-related medicine is basically all I do, so giving that type of advice makes a lot more sense.
Gender Parity in Sexual Pharmaceuticals
There’s been a lot of research on enhancing male sexual function- viagra has certainly been in the cultural lexicon for years. It’s so widely used that it’s covered by state insurance like Medicaid. We even routinely ask patients with serious chest pain about viagra use- Questioning patients about viagra is literally in our advanced life-support algorithms. Patients will get shipped into the trauma bay with chest pain and one of us will whisper in their ear, “Have you taken a viagra?” because it’s that commonly used. Recent viagra use has implications for what treatment we choose for them because you can’t use viagra and nitroglycerin within a certain time frame. Medically, we’re trained to talk about medications related to the male anatomy.
After 2019, when sildenafil turned generic, male products became super easy to access and are inexpensive. The erectile dysfunction med is now available on online form-based medical services like hims or Lemonaid for about $20/month-long pill supply. You literally don’t even need to talk about it with a doctor, eliminating another pain point: you just fill out a form, and a physician reviews it. EASY!
But what about the ladies? There are some products out there targeted at hypoactive sexual desire disorder (a relatively common condition where women might not feel as much sexual desire as they’d like). Female products like addyi remain under brand-name lock and key and are prohibitively expensive- it costs upwards of $300 without insurance! There are some newer pharmaceutical products on the market now. Vyleesi, for example, is a medication that has become more available (and has a super cute website) but it requires self-injection and costs $99 per 4-shot dose pack.
Marijuana Appears to be a Commonly Used and Effective Treatment for Sexual Arousal
Enter marijuana! It’s a safe and affordable way to address sexual arousal issues and has been shown to increase libido and sexual pleasure in both male and female groups.
If you’ve used marijuana to enhance sex, you’re not alone. We have data suggesting that people have done exactly that for years (1). Ingestion of various substances seems to be very associated with enjoying sex, and this study specifically compares cannabis use to alcohol.
“…subjects reported that compared to sex after alcohol, sex on other drugs was more pleasurable and satisfying, with a greater perception of interpersonal contact with the partner and a greater willingness to sexually experiment.”
-Sumnall et all, 2007
For instance, a 2018 study examined the effects of marijuana, alcohol, and ecstasy on sexual outcomes in young adults (2). All three were associated with heightened perceived sexual effects (i.e. perceived sexual attractiveness of self and others, sexual desire, length of intercourse, and sexual outgoingness), with alcohol and ecstasy being the most powerful. Again, marijuana was shown to have the fewest negative effects on sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction.
Overall the data seems to suggest that men and women like having sex after ingesting psychoactive substances of all varieties, but that marijuana has the fewest problematic issues on sexual performance.
Marijuana And Female Sexual Function
Alright, here’s what I really came here to say. I love this study, it was done on an American population of women that sought care at an OB/GYN clinic (3).
In summary, it states that over a third of women have used cannabis prior to sex. That’s a lot of ladies! Women also reported a plethora of benefits on sexual function. Some studies in the past have noted an increased incidence of female sexual dysfunction (aka vaginal dryness) after marijuana use, but this study specifically indicates that it was not a problem for these women. Check out this excerpt:
“Of the 373 participants, 34.0% (n = 127) reported having used marijuana before sexual activity. Most women reported increases in sex drive, improvement in orgasm, decrease in pain, but no change in lubrication.”
–Lynn et. al, 2019
Marijuana and the “Big-O”
The same study goes on the dive even further into female sexuality, noting correctly that there is “a paucity of literature related to the endocannabinoid system in women.”
“After adjusting for race and age, women with frequent marijuana use, regardless of use before sex or not, had 2.10 times higher odds of reporting satisfactory orgasms than those with infrequent marijuana use (adjusted odds ratio = 2.10; 95% CI = 1.01–4.44).”
–Lynn et. al, 2019
I want to draw attention to the way that this statement is phrased. It specifically notes that women don’t need to use marijuana prior to sex to experience an increase in orgasm- any marijuana use at all already seems to facilitate orgasm for these ladies.
That may indicate that the endocannabinoid system is more highly tied to female arousal and orgasm in ways beyond the immediate psychoactive effects of smoking cannabis. Using cannabis may increase your cannabinoids in a way that facilitates orgasm in ways that we just don’t understand yet! It kind of reminds me of the studies in migraine patients that showed that people that suffered from migraines had decreased endocannabinoids in their spinal fluid compared to non-migraine sufferers.
Maybe we need a certain level of endocannabinoids for peak health, and some people just don’t get there on their own! Definitely fun to think about.
— Dr. Lee
- Sumnall HR, Beynon CM, Conchie SM, Riley SC, Cole JC. An investigation of the subjective experiences of sex after alcohol or drug intoxication. J Psychopharmacol. 2007 Jul;21(5):525-37. doi: 10.1177/0269881106075590. Epub 2007 Apr 19. PMID: 17446200.
- Joseph J. Palamar, Marybec Griffin-Tomas, Patricia Acosta, Danielle C. Ompad & Charles M. Cleland (2018) A comparison of self-reported sexual effects of alcohol, marijuana, and ecstasy in a sample of young adult nightlife attendees, Psychology & Sexuality, 9:1, 54-68, DOI: 10.1080/19419899.2018.1425220
- Becky K. Lynn, Julia D. López, Collin Miller, Judy Thompson, E. Cristian Campian. The Relationship between Marijuana Use Prior to Sex and Sexual Function in Women. Sexual Medicine, Volume 7, Issue 2,2019, Pages 192-197, ISSN 2050-1161. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esxm.2019.01.003. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2050116119300091