Having sex and getting high are two fun things to do separately — but they're even more fun to do at the same time. There are real-deal psychological and physiological benefits of a quick toke — or nibble, or spray — before climbing into bed.
If you're in the right headspace for it, sex with a head full of cannabis is great. It's been shown that cannabis can act as an aphrodisiac, strengthening orgasms in women and boosting libido. "Sometimes when couples smoke marijuana, they take more time to have a fuller sensual experience and slow down, which would allow more time for vasocongestion (blood flow to genitals) and myotonia (muscular tension)," sex therapist Ian Kerner previously told Mic. He said weed can cause couples to feel "relaxed, comfortable and sexy, [which may] lead to a higher quality of orgasm."
It's all in your head: When it comes to sex and biology, men tend to obsess over erectile dysfunction. Drugs like Viagra and Cialis can fix the physiological symptoms, but the root problem is often psychological: stress and anxiety. "The mentality for men is that they just need a pill and that will solve all the psychological issues, but that doesn't work," Dr. Jordan Tishler, a cannabis therapeutics physician for Inhale MD, told Mic. "Whatever the psychological causes of the dysfunction or inability to make intimate contact, women are more willing to discuss above-the-neck issues than men."
Cannabis, unless taken in excessive doses, is known to help curb stress and anxiety. Why and how it affects the brain isn't talked about as much.
Your body actually makes cannabinoids in a part of your brain and nervous system called the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate our stress and anxiety levels. THC, marijuana's champion psychoactive ingredient, is chemically similar to a brain chemical called anandamide — better known as our body's natural marijuana — that makes us less anxious.
Marijuana's impact on sex looks a lot like the way it impacts everything else: It helps shelf stress and anxiety in order to make users more present. Not only does it help you feel more comfortable in your skin, but with the release of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for the feeling of bonding, cannabis can help you feel more connected to your partner.
"The endocannabinoid system does help restore a healthy neurological firing pattern of existing oxytocin already in an individual's body," Stephanie Viskovich, a medical marijuana advocate in Washington, told Mic. "Cannabis won't deplete what is there to increase sensation in one giant shot." She said it helps your body "naturally restore a healthy firing of neurological pistons directly correlated to balancing the oxytocin, which is naturally produced by your own body."
Research needs to aim higher: Overall, marijuana is the ingestible equivalent of meditation when it comes to getting stress levels in check. But there aren't a lot of studies to prove the impact. According to Nicole Prause, founder of Liberos, a company that uses brain stimulation to impact sex drive issues, the problem comes from the lack of funding and support for sex-related research.
"No one will apply to study THC and sexual arousal," Prause told Mic. "You need a lot of money to run fMRI studies, usually $600 an hour, just for scanner time. Congressional aids scan NIH funding for the word 'sexual' and have brought five grants up for defunding. One was successful — the only time in the history of NIH it has ever happened."
Until then, we'll just have to go on largely anecdotal evidence, which is why it's all the more important for couples to experiment, communicate and find what works for them.
"Everyone reacts differently to strains, and there is a lot of misconception about sativas being good for energy and 'daytime use,'" Viskovich told Mic. "Depending on your body's physiological makeup, a sativa could help you focus and give you energy, or it could induce anxiety and paranoia." She compared it to how Ritalin affects people with and without ADD.
Viskovich recommends running the stoner gamut: Try a pure indica strain, a pure sativa strain and a hybrid mix of the two. Plenty of home research needs to be done on your own to see what works in your bedroom — so have fun.