Researchers embarked on the study expecting to get the opposite results. "I thought it would be like cigarette smoking or any potentially harmful activity," says the study's senior author, Michael Eisenberg, an assistant professor of urology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He says he often treats men with sexual dysfunction, many of whom ask if their marijuana use might be a factor. So Eisenberg was curious to quantify the erotically inhibiting effects of cannabis.
But regular weed smokers are actually more sexually active, the study found.
The findings are based on surveys of more than 50,000 Americans ages 25 to 45, the prime boning years. (Researchers used the National Survey of Family Growth so really we're talking about prime reproductive years, but we digress.) The survey specifically asked people how many times they'd had heterosexual sex in the past month and how frequently they smoked marijuana in the past year. About 24.5 percent of men and 14.5 percent of women reported using cannabis in the last year, and they got laid more often than the men and women who could pass a drug test at work.
Men who used marijuana daily said they had sex on average 6.9 times in the past four weeks, while men who hadn't used pot in the past year shagged only 5.6 times over that 4-week period. Female daily users had sex 7.1 times in four weeks, exceeding their non-420-friendly peers who got busy an average of six times in the same span. All in all, pot users are having about 20 percent more sex than pot abstainers, and it was a dose-dependent relationship: the more people smoked, the more sex they had. In science speak, that's "higher marijuana use was associated with increased coital frequency." It's the first study to look at the link between marijuana use and sex frequency at the population level in the US.
It is possible that cannabis' inhibition-killing effects is making users more inclined to get it on, Eisenberg says, but there isn't enough data yet to draw a causal connection between regular cannabis use and an active sex life. "Using marijuana does not mean you will have sex more," he stipulates, so don't go hunting some down just for this reason.
Previous research on cannabis' relationship to sexual health is scant and conflicting: On one hand, some reports have found erectile dysfunction in heavy users and others have linked pot to reduced sperm counts. But another body of research, involving both human and animal subjects, shows that cannabis stimulates brain regions involved in sexual arousal and activity.
So could it simply be cultural? People who get high want to live life to the fullest and reject prudish societal norms, so they're also DTF? And the people doing neither are just generally inhibited?
Eisenberg looked for evidence of this in the data but didn't find it. "You think there could be some other cultural factor that would have an impact on the numbers then," he says. An increase in sexual activity among pot users stayed consistent across race, gender, age, education level, income, religion, marital status, and parental status. In all data subsets, those who were rocking the ganj were also changing their sheets more often than those who weren't. The trend even remained after they accounted for use of other drugs like alcohol and cocaine.
So Eisenberg is left trying to determine how this information could be a benefit to those with sexual performance issues. Eisenberg says, "To find a way to use this as a therapy, that would be the ultimate next step."
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