The study states that marijuana use has been on the rise among U.S. adults as a growing number of states pass laws legalizing it for medical and recreational purposes. Although marijuana is thought to act on the cannabinoid receptor in the brain, which is involved in sexual function, little research to date has examined the drug’s impact on sexual health, the study team notes.
According to Reuters, researchers surveyed 373 female patients at an obstetrics and gynecology practice in an academic medical center in Saint Louis, Missouri. Overall, 127 women, or 34 percent, reported using marijuana before sexual activity.
Women who used marijuana before sex were twice as likely as those who didn’t to say they had “satisfactory” orgasms, the survey found. And women who regularly used the drug were twice as likely as occasional users to have satisfying orgasms.
“What’s new about this study is that marijuana is framed as being useful for sex,” said Joseph Palamar, a population health researcher at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City who wasn’t involved in the study.
“Typically, drugs are investigated as risk factors for sex. I think this paper signifies that times are changing,” Palamar said by email.
Like alcohol and many recreational drugs, marijuana has long been linked to an increased risk of sexual activity among teens, and some previous research has also tied marijuana to unsafe sex and higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases.
“In the current study, however, Dr. Becky Lynn of Saint Louis University School of Medicine and colleagues focused on the connection between marijuana and women’s satisfaction with their sex lives, sex drive, orgasms, lubrication and pain during intercourse. Lynn didn’t respond to requests for comment”, states Reuters. Overall, 197 women in the study, or about 52 percent, didn’t use marijuana at all. Another 49 women, or 13 percent, used the drug but didn’t indulge before sex.
Women who did use marijuana before sex appeared to have more lubrication and less pain during intercourse than women who didn’t, but the differences were too small to rule out the possibility they were due to chance.
Compared to occasional marijuana users, women who regularly used the drug reported better lubrication, and increased satisfaction with their sex lives – but here, too, the differences were too small to rule out the possibility of chance.
Beyond its small size, one limitation of the study is that it wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how marijuana might directly impact sexual health. It’s also unclear whether women smoked pot or used another form of the drug, or if this was the only substance women were using that might alter their sexual function.
Another drawback is that the study included mostly white women who were married or in relationships, making it possible the results don’t represent what all women would experience. And, the study didn’t explicitly spell out what type of “sex” it was asking about, making it difficult to say for sure what types of activity might be impacted by marijuana use.
“It is unknown how experienced these women were with marijuana or in combining marijuana and sex. We also don’t know who intentionally combined marijuana with sex,” Palamar said.