There are many natural substances said to be aphrodisiacs—oysters, ginseng, and dark chocolate, to name a few. But it’s possible cannabis will soon become synonymous with lifting the libido as well.
While studies are scarce due to legal barriers over the past several decades, “We’re in the preliminary stage of observing the phenomenon. We need to move on to explain why or how this is happening,” says Rany Shamloul, a clinical researcher at The Ottawa Hospital to the Globe and Mail.
When all the elements are there, it’s not about being high. It’s about being connected."
What we do know is that many women can experience anxiety and stress around sex, particularly if they've been victims of sexual violence. The ability to relax the body and the mind and be in the moment can make all the difference to someone who feels disconnected in bed. And while a nice glass of wine could loosen you up just as well (and might currently be more socially acceptable), many are beginning to question how "mommy drinking culture” normalizes alcoholism in women when the risks of alcohol consumption are greater for women than for men.
Symptoms of sexual anxiety can range from difficulty getting aroused, to a significant decrease in sex drive. "I just couldn't concentrate when it was happening," says Katherine, 31. "My mind was always whirring, and I couldn't relax and get into it. "That inability to find a sense of ease led Katherine to an inability to orgasm during any kind of sexual play.
When she and her boyfriend started using cannabis before sex, however, she found she was able to loosen up like never before. "It was a whole new sensation," she says. "I was feeling things I'd never felt before, probably because I wasn't distracted by thoughts about my body, or dumb things like my to-do list that is always in the back of my head."
Leaning into those new sensations produced orgasms for Katherine and, she says, brought her and her boyfriend closer together. “We don’t use [cannabis] every time,” she says, “but it is a great way for us to explore new things as a couple.”
For Shannon, a woman in her late-50s, that feeling of newness is just what she was searching for. Married for 25 years, she read up on women-focused pleasure and was looking for a way to break out of routine and try something different, despite the stigma she grew up with around sexuality.
“This is how we were raised,” she says. “This is the culture we’ve all been brought up in.”
To escape those stricter norms, Shannon began vaporizing—her husband doesn’t use cannabis—and found that she relaxed and felt excited about sex again.
It wasn't all easy, though. Shannon had to find the right balance for herself to reap the benefits. "I don't like being stoned," she says. Taking too much, or vaporizing at the wrong time, would cause her to feel other effects than those she desired. Like with any cannabis use, every person's reaction is different, and everyone must find what works for them.
One study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine found "A positive association between [cannabis] use and sexual frequency is seen in men and women across all demographic groups. "So the integration of cannabis into your sex life might result in sex more often, and hopefully more connected, better sex at that.
Like sex, cannabis use is all about what feels good and right for you, so finding a partner you trust is just as important as finding the right strain.
“When all the elements are there, though,” says Katherine, “it’s not about being high. It’s about being connected.”