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  • Tanya Griffin

A Guide to Sex and Cannabis

Written by: Tanya Griffin - Sexpert & oOYes Founder

It is well known, especially for women, that sex is as much about the brain as it is about the body.  Showing up and staying present can not only induce prolonged sexual pleasure but can lead to oOrgasms.

In her article, “Here's What Happens to Your Brain When You Orgasm", Sofia Mitrokostas explored MRI scans that tracked the brain during climax and shared some remarkable insights when it comes to the increase of hormones such as dopamine and the body’s release of endorphins, oxytocin, prolactin, and vasopressin when it comes to the “big O.”

The magic that occurs during an orgasm is nothing short of spectacular. The surge of dopamine, a hormone responsible for pleasure, desire, and motivation, acts as a spontaneous reward, teaching us to want more. In addition, endorphins, vasopressin, and oxytocin promote pain reduction, intimacy, and bonding.

Not unlike eating a delicious meal, hearing a favorite song, or the freedom and excitement induced by cannabis or psychedelics, sex also triggers and stimulates reward pathways. The benefits of these magical hormones surging through the body go beyond intimacy and bonding and are compounded when kindness is shared between one another.

So, if pleasurable sex can do all this, why are we not prioritizing more and better sex? What will it take to get and keep us in the mood and build sex into our daily routine?

Like the demonization of cannabis and psychedelics, being free in our bodies and removing the stronghold of shame and societal influences is often not enough to offset even the most powerful hormones and chemical reactions that occur during lovemaking with ourselves or others.

Cannabis and Sex

As early as the seventh century, sex and cannabis have been intertwined throughout Eastern and Western medicine. Cannabis has been integral in tantric rituals and marriage ceremonies in India.  The Europeans jumped on board from the 1850s to the 1930s before money, politics, and religious ideology took control and demonized the plant. Before the 1930s, the US Pharmacopeia promoted cannabis aphrodisiac pills and extracts made by pharmaceutical companies like Ely Lilly and Upjohn. Physicians recommended cannabis use for “pleasant intoxication,” “stimulating the sexual appetite,” and to treat “sexual torpor” in women (in other words, lack of sexual desire). 

This love for cannabis would all come to a screeching halt in the late 1930s when the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics commissioner, Harry Anslinger, made wild claims that cannabis turned women into nymphomaniacs who sought “relations with Negros and entertainers,” his racist, sexist rhetoric would help advance the criminalization of cannabis and land the plant its current designation as a Schedule I, controlled substance. The US then spread and enforced its ‘war on drugs’, rendering the cannabis plant a worldwide villain. Thankfully, the tides of cannabis legalization are finally turning, and once again, cannabis is being used to enhance sexual pleasure.

When it comes to having sex one size does not fit all.  Mitigating factors such as sexual orientation, age, mindset about our bodies, sexual experiences, relationship dynamics, physical disorders, libido, hormones, menopause, pregnancy, breastfeeding, stress, pain etc., etc., can disrupt the path to sexual health and wellness.  All this before we even discuss the “pleasure gap” between men and women. 

Although this gap has been firmly cemented through cultural and religious ideology, there is hope. Sociologist Kathleen Rowland found that “neither medical malady nor psychological condition but rather a result of our culture’s troubled relationship with women’s sexual expression” is at the root of this difference.  We have made great strides in accepting others. The decriminalization of cannabis and gay marriage both lend promise for opening the door to truly expressing female sexuality. Like cannabis and accepting another's sexual orientation our new job will be to ensure this door stays open and the path to expressing one's sensuality remains clear.

We have long understood that women have the upper hand when it comes to sex and cumming. Our bodies are capable of multiple oOrgasms, and once they get started and your mind is present, they can just roll baby roll. Furthermore, men and women may not be created equal when it comes to cannabis.

Although we are just getting around to being allowed to study the cannabis plant and its effects on the human mind and body, early studies suggest that while men’s libidos may lower with cannabis use, women experience the opposite effect. In a 2019 study published in Women’s Sexual Health, when using cannabis, women reported significant improvements in their libido, pleasure, and orgasms.

More recently, thanks to clinical sexologist Dr. Suzanne Mulvehill and her nonprofit the Female Orgasm Research Institute, we are seeing cannabis identified as a treatment for female orgasm disorder (FOD). 

Mind, Body, and Cannabis

Let’s face it: sex is as much in the mind as it is in the body. At oOYes, we believe that great sex starts with open communication, showing up, and staying present. Whether you choose to bring toys, lubes, cannabis, or partner(s) into the bedroom, you are opening the door to a new and potentially exciting sexual experience.

When it comes to cannabis and sex, one of the critical benefits comes with the ability to ‘free your mind.’  In his book, How to Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan speaks to the “importance of forgetting” and staying present.  Recent research suggests that the naturally occurring neurotransmitter anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid also known as ‘the body’s marijuana,’ helps to calm the stress response, lowers cortisol, and, ultimately, helps us erase traumatic memories. Cannabidiol (CBD) boosts the production of this trauma-soothing molecule, and THC mimics it, interacting with the same receptors. When we can remove the noise in our head we can clear space for pleasure.

Although we are only beginning to understand the biological mechanisms of both sex and cannabis, we have discovered that the part of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, the same part that responds positively to erotic stimuli, suggests that THC in cannabis reacts to the same receptors; intensifying the desire to experience pleasure and keep one focused and in the mood for more and better sex.

Track Cannagasmic Sexplay 

While research has shown that women who include cannabis in their sexplay experience increased pleasure, studies have yet to demonstrate the optimal cannabis potency, ratios, strains, or infused products certain to deliver a predictable high and orgasmic outcome.  Like sex, it will take experimentation, an open mind, and plenty of practice to hit that sweet spot consistently. Unlike great sex, moderation is key.

Those of us who have mindfully blended cannabis into sexplay have joined the choir of anecdotal reporting singing the praises of cannabis and sex.  As a cannagasmic warrior, you also learn that more is not always better.  The key is to go slow and track your dosage relative to the experience. When introducing any alternative substance into sexplay, the ultimate ecstatic sex will come when approaching each experience with intention and tracking the dosage relative to sensation.   Keeping in mind that great sex happens as much in your head as your body, each time you engage in sexplay will be different and your partner's dosing and experience may be different from your own. With mindful dosing, intention, and practice, cannabis-centric sexplay will only get better and better. 

When smoking, vaping, or ingesting cannabis edibles, it is essential to remember that a little goes a long way.  Getting too high can cause undesired effects leaving you dazed, confused, or laughing uncontrollably.  When it comes to sublingual and topical use, that is, lubes and massage oils, you have more leeway to experiment and less risk of overdoing it. The mouth and vulva are both vessels rich in mucus membranes ready to deliver cannabis to the mind and body.

For women, estrogen can play an important role in helping to metabolize THC and can have a direct impact on uptake and one’s ability to “get high.”   As a result, if we understand our cycles relative to menstruation and ovulation (estrogen is at its peak during ovulation), as well as the depletion of estrogen surrounding menopause, we can learn to track and dose our cannabis use accordingly.  If you are taking SSRIs, birth control, or using Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) such as topical Estradiol, tablets, patches, or implants you may find that your ability to metabolize cannabinoids is compromised relative to your estrogen levels.  These changes may adversely affect cannabis uptake or change the experience from one time to the next.  To best understand this process, it is crucial to track your cannabis dosage relative to your sexplay experiences. 

For cycling women managing fluctuating hormones or menopausal women navigating decreased estrogen, using a sublingual tincture or vaping/smoking will hit the bloodstream more quickly than an edible, which must first move through the digestive system.  In this case, sublingual use may be the safest and easiest way to achieve a predictable outcome. 

Hemp vs THC

It is important to acknowledge the differences between non-intoxicating CBD/CBG/CBN-dominant cannabinoids, naturally psychoactive THC, and synthetically derived, intoxicating, Delta-8/Delta-10. While each option is initially derived from the cannabis sativa plant, hemp extracts have under .3% THC and are unlikely to leave you feeling high.  On the other hand, Delta 8 and 10 are synthetic derivatives, new to the market and relatively unregulated.  Unlike CBD, Delta 8 & 10 is purposefully intoxicating and will get you high. Delta-9 THC is psychoactive, forms naturally in the cannabis plant, and when decarboxylated (smoked) or extracted, it is psychoactive, includes full cannabinoid spectrum benefits, and will get you high.

Due to puritanical ideology and government overreach, neither sex nor cannabis has been adequately researched. We are only beginning to understand our mind and body's magical reactions to major and minor cannabinoids and the chemical reactions that come when we play with pleasure.

What we are learning beyond the anecdotal evidence is that CBD reduces pain, inflammation, and anxiety and is a vasodilator; that is, it can increase blood flow.  Minor cannabinoids like CBG may add anti-anxiety, cell rejuvenation, antibacterial, and anti-fungal qualities.  While all cannabinoids can affect mood, THC is particularly effective. These characteristics are a result of the plant’s biochemical profile that combines cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, and CBG with flavonoids and compounds called terpenes to cause a variety of physiological effects through interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). For best results, cannabis extracts derived from the whole plant deliver the optimal benefits of an “entourage effect.”

A Guide for Use

Whether you choose to smoke, eat, or rub infused cannabis products onto your private parts, the fun part will be experimenting with what combination works best for you. We are not all created equally when it comes to dosage and the effects of cannabis. Regular users will build a tolerance that can only be broken by time off, while virgin users may feel the effects come on quickly and unpredictably.

A safe place to start is sublingual topicals such as infused lubes and oils.  Topicals can be applied directly to private parts, localizing the cannagasm while arousing the mind with a new, mood-enhancing experience. It is recommended to allow up to 15 minutes for lubes and elixirs to seep into the mucous membranes and hit the bloodstream.  Adding smoking or vaping to the mix can help ‘free your mind’ and let you experiment with the more immediate effects and navigate your high more predictably. 

Remember, moderation is key. When experimenting with edibles, less is often more. Micro-dosing is always a good option as you track and learn what makes you happy. As the edibles kick in you will know it's coming when all your senses become elevated, and taste, smell, and touch trigger increased excitement. Unlike sublingual and smoking, edibles can take time to kick in, so plan your foreplay accordingly. Don’t eat the entire chocolate bar; it will surely sneak up on you.

While hemp-infused ecstatic sex products like oOYes can be purchased online or at local retail stores, THC-dominant products should be purchased at a licensed dispensary to ensure products are safe and lab-tested. When shopping at a dispensary, you can rely on a seasoned budtender to guide you through the best flower strain, sublingual, topical, or edible that is right for you.

Choosing Cannabis for Sex

While opening your mind and body to explore cannabis with sex may start slow with experimenting with smoking flower or choosing between an infused edible, sublingual, or topical, it is as much about bringing new and exciting play into your sex life. Whether solo or with a partner, giving yourself permission to fall deep into your sexuality and elevate your senses with the use of substances such as cannabis or psychedelics can be a mind opening experience that enhances sexplay and leads to more and better oOrgasms. 

As with all substances and sex, it is essential to discuss ground rules and consent with your partner before consumption.

Works Cited

Aldrich, Michael R. 1977. “Tantric Cannabis Use in India.” Journal of Psychedelic Drugs 9 (3): 227–33.

Androvicova, R., J. Horacek, J. Tintera, J. Hlinka, J. Rydlo, D. Jezova, M. Balikova, et al. 2017. “Individual Prolactin Reactivity Modulates Response of Nucleus Accumbens to Erotic Stimuli during Acute Cannabis Intoxication: An FMRI Pilot Study.” Psychopharmacology 234 (13): 1933–43.

“Aphrodisiacs Included Cannabis Extracts | Cannabis Museum.” n.d. Cannabis Museum. Accessed April 17, 2024.

Balon, Richard. 2020. “Cannabis and Sexual Experience.” The Journal of Sexual Medicine 17 (2): 358.

Both, Stephanie. 2017. “Recent Developments in Psychopharmaceutical Approaches to Treating Female Sexual Interest and Arousal Disorder.” Current Sexual Health Reports 9 (4): 192–99.

Gorzalka, Boris B., Matthew N. Hill, and Sabrina C.H. Chang. 2010. “Male–Female Differences in the Effects of Cannabinoids on Sexual Behavior and Gonadal Hormone Function.” Hormones and Behavior 58 (1): 91–99.

Lynn, Becky K., Julia D. López, Collin Miller, Judy Thompson, and E. Cristian Campian. 2019. “The Relationship between Marijuana Use prior to Sex and Sexual Function in Women.” Sexual Medicine 7 (2): 192–97.

Lynn, Becky, Amy Gee, Luna Zhang, and James G. Pfaus. 2019. “Effects of Cannabinoids on Female Sexual Function.” Sexual Medicine Reviews 8 (1).

Mahler, Stephen V, Kyle S Smith, and Kent C Berridge. 2007. “Endocannabinoid Hedonic Hotspot for Sensory Pleasure: Anandamide in Nucleus Accumbens Shell Enhances ‘Liking’ of a Sweet Reward.” Neuropsychopharmacology 32 (11): 2267–78.

Meston, Cindy M., and Amelia M. Stanton. 2019. “Understanding Sexual Arousal and Subjective–Genital Arousal Desynchrony in Women.” Nature Reviews Urology 16 (2): 107–20.

Misuraca, Melinda. 2022. “Cannabis & Sex: A Woman’s Guide.” The Cannigma. January 30, 2022.

Mitrokostas, Sophia. 2019. “Here’s What Happens to Your Body and Brain When You Orgasm.” ScienceAlert. Business Insider. January 19, 2019.

Pollan, Michael. 2018. How to Change Your Mind: The New Science of Psychedelics. London: Penguin Books.

Rowland, Katherine . n.d. “About Katherine Rowland — Katherine Rowland Katherine Rowland Writer, Journalist, Author of the Pleasure Gap.” Katherine Rowland. Accessed April 17, 2024.

Rubin, Vera. 1975. Cannabis and Culture. Berlin, New York De Gruyter Mouton.

Stelt, Mario van der. 2020. “Body’s Own Marijuana Helps Us Forget Traumatic Memories.” Leiden University. May 12, 2020.

Weil, Matan. 2019. “A Story of Smoke and Mirrors: How Cannabis Became Illegal around the World.” The Cannigma. September 23, 2019.


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