by Deb Powers
Can CBD improve your sex life? While there’s little research into CBD and sex—particularly in terms of whether it enhances the experience—anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD can make sex better. Considering its many benefits for health and wellness, that should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. After all, it only makes sense that sex will be better when you’re feeling better, right? But let’s take a more scientific look at the question: Get ready for a dive into some studies about how CBD affects your body and why those benefits are a good thing for a happy sex life.
CBD and the Body — A Crash Course
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a component of cannabis that’s sort of like THC’s cousin but without the “high.” Both interact with the body through the endocannabinoid system , a part of the neurological system that extends throughout the body. In comparison to our other bodily systems—circulatory, respiratory and the like—the endocannabinoid system is a relatively recent discovery. It consists of neurological receptors on the outside of your cells that are sensitive to cannabinoids, signaling neurotransmitters that cause your cells to react to outside stimuli.
There are two main classes of receptors — CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are mostly in the brain, and they react to THC, the constituent in cannabis that gets you high. CB2 receptors are scattered throughout the body, and they react to CBD. Once the cannabinoid latches onto a receptor, it sends a message to the cell that might tell it, for example, to slow down the release of cortisol (the stress hormone that elevates your blood pressure) or ease back on pain signals.
Scientists are just beginning to study the specifics of how the endocannabinoid system works, and most of this research has focused on medical applications. In other words, they haven’t done a whole lot of research into how CBD affects your sex life or your happiness level. There are, however, some relevant conclusions that you can draw from what we know about how CBD affects the body.
CBD and Sex: Combating Sexual Dysfunction
Scientists have linked sexual dysfunction to anxiety and depression in both men and women for decades. While few studies go so far as to say that anxiety and depression cause sexual dysfunction, many note that a significant number of patients with erectile dysfunction and other sexual dysfunctions also suffer from anxiety and depression.
Unfortunately, the medications used to treat mood disorders often come with a helping of sexual dysfunction on the side. According to the Mayo Clinic, the sexual side effects of well-known antidepressants include erectile problems, orgasm problems, a change in the desire for sex and problems with arousal and satisfaction. If only there were something that improves your mood without those troublesome side effects…
How CBD May Help:
- A 2015 study concluded, “CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.”
- A 2018 study found that regular cannabis users reported improved mood and fewer depressive symptoms when they also consumed CBD.
- A 2018 review of literature on the effects of CBD found lots of evidence that CBD reduces anxiety.
CBD and Hormones: Less Stress, Better Sex
We shouldn’t need scientific studies to show that people dealing with high levels of stress are less likely to want or enjoy sex, but they do exist. For example, one study found that postmenopausal women who tested high for stress, anxiety, and depression were more likely to report some sort of sexual dysfunction.
Another study found that stress and “poor mental health” are consistent risk factors for sexual dysfunction for women of all ages in multiple countries and cultures.
Yet another study found that it’s not just women who find that stress makes sex less fun; it concluded that job stress is a significant factor in sexual dysfunction among male nurses. And in case you think it just affects male nurses, the Mayo Clinic lists stress among the risk factors for erectile dysfunction in men.
How CBD May Help: The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that CBD has been effective in reducing both the physical and psychological markers of stress. In other words, people don’t just feel better—there’s evidence that CBD actually affects the release of hormones that produce stress symptoms.
CBD and Pain Relief
Pain may be one of the biggest romance killers of all time. Whether you’re dealing with joint pain from arthritis, neuropathic pain, or an old-fashioned killer migraine, sex is likely to be low on your list of preferred activities at that time.
One thing that most researchers agree on is that CBD has very few side effects, and those tend to be mild in most people. Because CBD differs from THC, you can take it without getting high—and depending on the state you live in, it’s more likely to be legal.
The bottom line: There’s a high probability that CBD can enhance your enjoyment of life in general and, as a result, improve your sex life. If you have access to it, it’s certainly worth a try.
Deb Powers is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about natural foods and wellness. Part of her work with a local food policy advisory council focuses on truth in labeling and food origin labeling laws.