Could Marijuana Contribute to Sexual Dysfunction?
Posted on February 12, 2018
Marijuana consists of a mixture of dried plant leaves, flowers, and/or stems of the Cannabis Sativa plant. In addition, there is a resin-based version of marijuana that is called hash. Most people either smoke marijuana or vape it (warming it, but not cooking it), but it can also be ingested in oil form. The most common way to ingest marijuana is to roll it up and smoke it like you would a cigarette or cigar, or use a smoking tool like a pipe. Some users, however, consume weed by infusing foods (i.e., butter and cooking oil) or teas.
What happens to your body when you ingest marijuana?
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most active ingredient in marijuana. When you smoke this herb, it travels to your lungs before entering your bloodstream. Once in your blood, it travels to your brain and other organs (i.e., heart, tissues, etc.). FYI: Drinking or eating marijuana can delay the effects of THC. But, once it bonds with your brain’s neural receptors you become “high.”
THC can also affect the sections of your brain that control memory, thinking, concentration and focus, and coordination. When this occurs, it can trigger unpleasant side effects like distorted thinking, delayed learning, lethargy, increased appetite, low inhibitions, hallucinations, distorted perception, clumsiness, and memory loss. These side effects are normally temporary; however, they can still lead to dangerous consequences, especially if you drive while under the influence.
Is marijuana legal in the U.S.?
Yes and no. The state legalization process (for medical marijuana) first began during the seventies. But, unfortunately, even though the process started 40-plus years ago, there has been very little progress on this front, in many states. Why not? Because each state is tasked with developing and enforcing its own laws, rules, and regulations.
Ironically, marijuana possession (in small amounts) has been legalized in other parts of the world (i.e., Czech Republic, Canada, and Israel), yet only 29 states (Oregon, Montana, Alaska, Ohio, New Mexico, Arkansas, California, Illinois, New York, Colorado, Delaware, Washington, DC, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Arizona, Maine, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, and West Virginia) have moved to decriminalize the herb for medicinal purposes.
It is important to point out that medical marijuana has not been thoroughly tested due to government regulations and production limitations. However, research suggests that it may ease nausea and vomiting during chemo treatments, alleviate chronic pain, boost appetite in those with HIV/AIDS, and relieve muscle spasms. In November 2016, Nevada, Massachusetts, California, and Maine also passed measures to legalize recreational marijuana.
Common Sexual Dysfunctions and the Effects of Marijuana
What are sexual dysfunctions? Sexual dysfunctions, also known as erectile dysfunction (ED), sexual disorders, premature ejaculation (PE), sexual malfunctions, and sexual arousal disorders, are issues that can occur during any stage of the sexual response cycle (i.e., anticipation, plateau, orgasm, and decline). This issue can prevent couples from experiencing sexual fulfillment during sexual intercourse.
What are the different types of sexual dysfunctions? They usually involve four categories: (1) desire disorders (a lack of sexual desire or a loss of interest in sex); (2) arousal disorders (an inability to become or stay aroused during sex or sexual activities; (3) orgasm disorders (unable to climax (orgasm) or a delay in climaxing); and (4) pain disorders (pain that occurs during sexual intercourse).
Should I use marijuana for my issue? Regarding marijuana and sexual dysfunction, THC can negatively affect penile function, possibly leading to premature ejaculation. How? Well, there are receptors in a man’s penile tissue that when confronted with THC, increases the risk of erection and orgasm issues.
Why does this happen? Marijuana boosts dopamine levels in the body. Dopamine regulates moods and emotions. If you get accustomed to really high levels of dopamine, you may subsequently find that your natural level of this hormone may not be high enough to sexually stimulate you, thus, making it harder for you to maintain an erection.
Is It Even Safe?
Is it safe to use pot for sexual dysfunctions? Unfortunately, the answer is complicated. Study results have been both inadequate and variable. For instance, a recent La Trobe University study interviewed over 8000 Australian men and women, between 16–64 years old, to determine how marijuana usage could affect sexual function. Researchers focused on condom use, sexual partners, sexual dysfunctions, and sexual-transmitted diseases (STDs).
Results indicated that men, who use marijuana daily, are four times more likely to have orgasm problems and three times more likely to experience premature ejaculation, than men who do not use it or don’t use it regularly. In addition, researchers also found that daily male marijuana users are at-risk for delayed orgasms. So, why do men use it if it has serious side effects? Well, the researchers of the La Trobe University study believe that some men with premature ejaculation use marijuana because they believe that the herb will help them “last longer” – the reality is, however, that for many men, it actually worsens their conditions, causing them to ejaculate even faster. The common practice methods used to fix premature ejaculation don’t involve the use of marijuana.
Similarly, another study on sexual dysfunctions and marijuana found that marijuana usage is linked to lower testosterone levels, which is a contributor to erectile dysfunction. Like the previous study, the results also suggested that cannabis (marijuana) is associated with orgasm problems like premature ejaculation and an inability to achieve orgasm. Likewise, a 2010 study found that marijuana can affect sexual functions by disrupting the part of the nervous system that regulates erections, thereby, possibly leading to sexual dysfunctions like erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
What are the Signs of Overuse?
To better understand the possible signs of overusing marijuana, it is important to answer the following questions. Have you gained or lost any weight, since using marijuana for sexual dysfunction? Do you need a higher amount of pot to get the same results, i.e., “last longer?” Are you spending exorbitant amounts of money on this herb hoping it will improve your sexual performance? Do you suffer from terrible withdrawal symptoms (i.e., cravings, insomnia, increased hunger, mood swings, irritability, depression, and/or anxiety) when you ease up on it or quit taking it all together? And lastly, is it creating a disturbance at work and/or issues in your relationship?
The truth is, most people believe that marijuana, in general, is harmless, but this is certainly not the case when it is being overused for sexual dysfunctions. Dr. Juan Paredes, a South Beach Clinic board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in male sexual dysfunctions, asserted that one of the major consequences of marijuana overuse, when treating sexual dysfunctions, is that it can lead to extremely weak orgasms, premature orgasms, or no orgasms at all.
In summary, marijuana usage and allowances have started to relax in some states and countries. And, legal restrictions and people’s perceptions of the herb have also eased over the last ten years. Because there is an increased acceptance of marijuana usage for a variety of reasons (i.e., from recreational to medicinal), it is important to learn the possible consequences of regularly ingesting it. Why? Well, because more and more studies are finding that there is a relationship between marijuana and male sexual dysfunctions. And, although smoking, eating, or even drinking marijuana may relieve some symptoms for some men, for others, it could end up being a disaster waiting to happen—in the bedroom.
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Wu, B. (2017). Marijuana and erectile dysfunction: What is the connection? Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317104.php
Harclerode J. (1984). Endocrine effects of marijuana in the male: preclinical studies. National Institute on Drug Abuse Research Monograph Series, 44, 46-65. Access here.
Smith, A. M.A., Ferris, J. A., Simpson, J. M., Shelley, J., Pitts, M. K. and Richters, J. (2010). Cannabis use and sexual health. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7, 787–793. DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01453.x
Localization and Function of Cannabinoid Receptors in the Corpus Cavernosum: Basis for Modulation of Nitric Oxide Synthase Nerve Activity
This guest article originally appeared on the award-winning health and science blog and brain-themed community, BrainBlogger: Marijuana And Sexual Dysfunction — Could Your Marijuana Usage Be Hindering Your Performance in Bed?.
Author: Psych Central Staff
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