Are Drugs the Answer to Better Sex?
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Marijuana turns out to have a use it's not renowned for.
By Joshua Eferighe
Raeghn Draper and Chad Volkers have been dating for three years. They crossed each other’s paths working in the restaurant industry — he was a server; she a pastry cook — and both are now pursuing creative careers. Draper, 26, studies communications and theater at Northeastern Illinois University and Volkers, 30, is a scriptwriter and comedian. They travel together, cook together … and smoke weed together.
“I absolutely feel like some of our closest moments were during or after smoking,” says Draper. But they also found one very particular intimate advantage: In the bedroom. “If I’m high,” she says, “I’ll almost always climax.”
Marijuana’s not renowned as a sexual aid, but Draper’s experience isn’t isolated. In fact, according to one 2019 study:
Women who used marijuana before sex had more than double the odds of reporting satisfying orgasms than non-users.
Those findings, published in Sexual Medicine, looked at the sex lives of 373 women, about half of whom were marijuana users. Sixty percent of those who used it before sex reported an increased sex drive when they used it, 52 percent said they had better orgasms, and 68 percent said the overall experience was more pleasurable. Frequent marijuana use — even not before sex — also strongly increased the odds of reporting satisfactory orgasms.
“I specialize in sexual problems in women so patients would come to me with all sorts of different sexual problems like low libido, painful sex, problems with orgasms,” says Dr. Becky Lynn, director of the Evora Center for Menopause and Sexual Health and the study’s lead author. She heard from patients that they’d used marijuana as a sexual aid — then delved into the research on the subject, only to find that none existed, though a study from 2017 did find that marijuana usage was associated with having more sex in both men and women. Still, despite legalization efforts in many states, only 15 percent of men and 9 percent of women told a recent Gallup Poll they smoked.
It’s not clear exactly why marijuana appears to increase sexual pleasure, but some theories posited by Lynn’s study include that it generally lowers stress, that it increases sexual confidence, and that it may make physical touch and sensations themselves more pleasurable.
Many women have a hard time climaxing during sex. Research from 2018 found that 95 percent of men say they usually orgasm, compared to just 65 percent of women. So tools to help close that gap might be tempting — but perhaps not a silver bullet. Everyone reacts differently, says Lynn, and results will vary depending on how comfortable women are with the situation and their partner.
“It’s possible to become paranoid and it may not work so well,” Lynn says, advising those who are curious to try it out during a solo session first.
Marijuana’s use as a relationship aid may not be limited to sex. Research from the University at Buffalo recently found that among couples who both used marijuana, smoking at the same time correlated with an increased incidence of loving, intimate moments. “It was how we first bonded as people,” Draper says of her and Volkers’ relationship. “We would sometimes go get food once we were stoned and oftentimes we had sex after smoking.”
“Nobody ever looked at the temporal relationship between marijuana use and intimacy before,” says study author Dr. Maria Testa, a senior research scientist. “People usually focus on the negative consequences of substance use, not the positive.”
While about one-quarter of the U.S. population now lives in a location where they can legally buy marijuana, it’s still considered a Schedule I drug at the federal level, meaning it’s thought to have high potential for abuse and no legitimate medical use. Researchers across the board caution to not be casual about its effects, even as lessened stigma means we know more about its benefits and pitfalls than ever before. Scare tactics surrounding drugs have long warned that they go hand in hand with sex. But it turns out they might go hand in hand with way better sex.