Arousal for Women Can Be Enhanced by Cannabis - RxLeaf

Arousal for Women Can Be Enhanced by Cannabis

Christine Kielhorn PHD
blonde woman hair blowing with red lipstick aroused

Long have women known the arousals and pleasures of cannabis and sex, but are we able to prove its pharmacological effects? And does that even matter?

Sexual dysfunction (inability to achieve satisfaction in sexual activity) is more common than one would like for women experiencing menopause or using anti-depressants.  While Viagra (sildenafil) has been considered helpful for women, it does not treat all the symptoms involved in female sexual dysfunction. Women deserve better and cannabis could do exactly that.

sex foreplay between man and woman side view head shot

How Does Cannabis Improve Your Sex Life?

The recreational use of cannabis has long been associated with increased sexual desire and sexual enjoyment in women. Cannabis could potentially treat many of the aspects of sexual dysfunction that other mainstream therapies, like sildenafil or cognitive therapy, cannot. To date there are very few scientific or clinical studies on the use of cannabis to treat sexual dysfunction in women, however, there is a small body of data that suggests it has good potential.

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The bulk of the data surrounding the effect of cannabis on the sexual arousal of women is based on questionnaires and self-reporting,  collected over the past several decades from recreational users. The responses to these questionnaires converge on several points: low doses of cannabis and short-term usage promote aspects of female sexuality, such as enhanced sexual desire, enjoyment, and satisfaction. An increased perception of intimacy with a partner was also reported. High doses of cannabis or chronic usage appear to have a negative effect on sexuality.

Woman having orgasm while scratching man's back

The main component of cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has been investigated in animal studies to uncover the mechanism responsible for its effect on female sexuality. It is thought to work mainly through the cannabinoid receptor CB1, and not as a hormone analog.

In several animal studies, THC activating the CB1 receptor was able to increase the sexual receptivity of animals by working together with hormones. The THC signaling pathway appeared to intersect with those of dopamine and progesterone. However, there are also a small number of animal studies that found the opposite to be true, that inhibiting the CB1 receptor could facilitate sexual receptivity. While mechanisms don’t always translate perfectly from animal models to humans, it is clear that more research is needed to discover the true mechanism of THC’s effect on sexuality.

Aroused Woman in black bra being caressed by unseen man

Can Women Achieve Better Orgasms with Cannabis?

Sadly, very little work has been done with human subjects. There is a case study from 2004 of one woman who took dronabinol (a drug made of synthetic THC) to successfully treat her sexual dysfunction caused by the medications she was taking for her bipolar disorder. Obviously, a study on one person, while providing hope, does not provide conclusive evidence that would be required for approval of THC to treat sexual dysfunction.

Aroused woman having neck kissed by man

Another small study found that the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) decreased in the blood following arousal. While this demonstrates that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in human female sexual arousal, the scientists were expecting to see an increase in endocannabinoids. They hypothesize that this may indicate a negative effect on sexual functioning, although there have not been any follow-up studies to confirm this.

Meanwhile in Real Life…

Anecdotal reports praise the power of cannabis to help women relax, let go of body image issues, and stay present in the moments of foreplay. All of these factors are hinderances to sexual satisfaction. In addition. cannabis can make you more sensitive to touch in all regions of the body. We don’t have to have successful reports from the pharmacological perspective in order to know that it works.

female clothes discarded on the floor

Whatever the mechanism, it is possible that cannabis could be effective at combating the lack of desire or sexual dissatisfaction that occur in women with sexual dysfunction. However, a more focused research effort will be needed to provide the data necessary to make this a more mainstream treatment.

Christine Kielhorn
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