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In the first six months of 2020, researchers from the University of Almeria in Spain asked 185 women and 89 men between the ages of 18 and 30 to answer a survey about their sexual experiences and drug use. The researchers focused solely on young adults who regularly used either cannabis or alcohol, and excluded subjects who used MDMA, opioids, or other drugs. Subjects who had been diagnosed with depression, diabetes, or other pre-existing conditions that could interfere with sexual performance were also excluded.
“The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of cannabis and alcohol use on sexual function in young people aged 18 to 30 years,” the study authors explained. “It is well-known that the young population consumes both substances at a higher rate than others; therefore, it is of particular interest to understand the influence of these drugs on sexual activity, especially as the number of infections and sexually transmitted diseases among this population rises.”
Subjects who used pot frequently reported having more enjoyable orgasms than non-users. Frequent stoners also scored higher on clinical scales for sexual desire, arousal, and overall sexual functioning than moderate users or non-users. Subjects who consumed heavy amounts of alcohol also scored higher on the sexual function scale than non-drinkers, but subjects with a history of alcohol dependence had significantly lower scores.
“Sexual function is improved in young people who are high-risk cannabis consumers with a moderate risk of alcohol use, resulting in increased desire, arousal, and orgasm,” the researchers wrote. “This improvement is usually associated with a reduction in anxiety and shame, which facilitates sexual relationships.”
Although this study is limited by its small sample size and its observational nature, other research has confirmed a link between cannabis and sexual pleasure. Numerous studies have found that regular cannabis users report increased libido, more satisfying orgasms, longer sex sessions, and overall improvements to sexual health and functioning. And another survey from 2020 found that adults have more sex, and give birth more often, in states where medical marijuana is legal.
Other research backs the present study's hypothesis that the anxiety-fighting properties of cannabis could be responsible for the boost in sexual enjoyment. One recent study focusing specifically on LGBTQ+ people found that cannabis can help reduce feelings of shame and anxiety that can block people from fully letting their guard down while having sex.
These studies indicate that weed can help make sex even more enjoyable for most people, but research on cannabis and overall sexual health is less clear. Several studies from the 1990s suggested that regular weed use reduces sperm counts, and a Brazilian study from 2019 confirmed that men who smoke weed tend to have poor sperm health. But in that very same year, a Harvard study found that regular pot smokers had much higher sperm counts than non-users.
Similarly, the research on prenatal cannabis use is also a mixed bag. Some research has indicated that prenatal THC use could increase the risk of a miscarriage, or even interfere with neural development in the fetal brain. Several other studies have found that prenatal pot consumption is not linked to cognitive impairment, birth defects, or other health issues in children, though. And while researchers know that mothers can pass THC to infants via breast milk, they still have no idea what impact this may have on children.