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What Does it Mean if You Can't Enjoy Sex Without Weed?

Experts tell us about the thin line between an aphrodisiac and a crutch.
Anna DeFlorian

On Edge is a series about stress in 2017.

To put it bluntly, sex on weed is awesome. Cannabis is a natural aphrodisiac, so there's good reason why cannabis-infused sex products like Foria's weed lube, hmbldt's "arouse" vape pen, or 1906's "High Love" edible chocolates are so popular for getting high and getting down in bed. Even a simple joint can be enough to get you horny if you're with the right person (or people).


But then there's the flip side: What about those who can't enjoy sex without the help of weed? While psychologists and sex therapists I spoke to say this is not particularly common, the handful who do experience it might be dealing with a broader set of issues, in which case the inability to enjoy sex without cannabis is just a symptom.

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Let's start with understanding why sex on weed is so great anyway. According to Ashley Manta, sex educator and founder of 420-friendly sex-positive lifestyle brand CannaSexual, cannabis can help you ground and feel more present with a partner. It can quell anxiety, quiet the mind, and facilitate a more in-body experience. Whether partners use cannabis to bond before sex or to become more engaged during foreplay, it's fairly obvious why weed is an aphrodisiac—so long as you consume the right dose. "It's more advantageous for penis owners to go with a lower dose, while people with vulvas have a higher threshold for cannabis," Manta explains. "I tell people to err on the side of less is more before the cutoff point from happy, yummy, euphoric to paranoid, anxious, and not fun."

She says, however, it's important to distinguish between using cannabis as a tool and as a crutch. If someone can't enjoy sex without cannabis, Manta says, "I suspect it's more a reflection on their relationship with their bodies or how safe they feel with their partner." If you need something to help get you in the mood, because otherwise you can't be comfortable or enjoy your partner, she adds, that's a bigger issue than cannabis.


So the inability to enjoy sex without cannabis could reflect your relationship with your partner, your relationship with yourself, your relationship with cannabis, or all of the above.

"If you have a cannabis dependence or a diagnosable dependence on a specific substance, you might feel that you can't enjoy your normal daily activities without the use of whatever substance it is," says Amie Harwick, a California-based marriage and family psychotherapist with a focus in human sexuality. "In this case, a person might need cannabis to have sex, but they also might feel like they can't be social without cannabis. It goes into everything." It's the same with alcohol, she says: If someone needs booze to engage in sex, there's likely a dependence.

Or someone may be dealing with intimacy issues, trauma, or any number of things that would preclude them from enjoying or being comfortable with sex, Harwick adds.

"There are people out there who have difficulty enjoying sexual intimacy, and the reasons for that are lengthy. For many of them, cannabis would be an approach to solving those problems," says Jordan Tishler, an internist and cannabis specialist at medical marijuana practice, Inhale MD. Cannabis can enhance all four stages of sex, which he classifies as desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction. Desire and arousal ebb and flow, relating often to the menstrual cycle or menopausefor women, or various whims for men. Despite stereotype, nearly 30 percent of men, regardless of age, report low libido, Tishler tells me. Weed can not only get you horny, but it can make orgasms that much better. "Cannabis causes more frequent and more intense orgasms," he says, based on what his patients have shared. "The increase in satisfaction or enjoyment of that orgasm spikes oxytocin”—aka the love or cuddle hormone.

Another reason a person might be incapable of enjoying sex without cannabis could be completely detached from psychology altogether. This is particularly true of women who suffer from vaginismus, a condition that renders inserting a tampon—let alone having sex—very painful. For these patients, Moushumi Ghose, a California-based marriage and family therapist with a specialty in sex, recommends smoking a little weed or using a medicated lubricant to help their mind and muscles relax. "These women weren't enjoying [sex] anyway," Ghose says. "Now they can."

If someone can't enjoy sex without weed it's important to distinguish two scenarios: A) When someone was having bad sex to begin with, and now only with cannabis can they finally enjoy sex, or B) the less likely instance in which someone was already having good, sober sex, but after trying sex on weed, they can't go back to sober sex.

Then of course, you need to take into account the circumstance. "It depends on how individuals perceive the relationship. If they're casually dating they might say, 'We're just having fun, so let's just get high and have sex,'" Ghose says. "Or a long-term couple might need something to spice up their sex life." Point being, the way partners relate to each other and the quality of their relationship influences the extent to which they'll enjoy sex without cannabis to begin with, and how much of a tool it might be in bringing out the best of their sexual chemistry.

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