Sexual Health Q&A
For some men, marijuana use and sexual dysfunction could be linked.
Marijuana is a popular drug used for recreational and medicinal purposes. Derived from Cannabis sativa, a hemp plant, it can be smoked, eaten in foods, or brewed as a tea.
Typical marijuana mixtures contain about 500 ingredients. Roughly 160 of these are cannabinoids - chemicals that bind with proteins in the body called cannabinoid receptors. Two of the most common cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
When cannabinoids bind with cannabinoid receptors, different effects can occur. For example, if THC is binding, a person may see changes in mood, perception, and behavior. He or she may also become more anxious. On the other hand, if CBD is binding, the person may feel less anxious or less depressed.
How marijuana affects the body depends on the plants used to prepare the mixture.
Some men find that their sexual performance improves when they use marijuana. For instance, if men become less anxious, they may have better ejaculatory control.
However, other men experience sexual problems with marijuana, such as the following:
- Low desire. Marijuana may cause men to lose their motivation for sex.
- Erectile dysfunction. For a firm erection to occur, smooth muscle tissue in the penis needs to relax and allow blood to flow in. However, if THC combines with cannabinoid receptors in the penis, this process becomes disrupted. Also, marijuana may make men too relaxed to have a firm erection.
- Orgasms. Studies have shown that men who use marijuana regularly are more likely to have trouble reaching orgasm.
- Premature ejaculation. Marijuana can increase a man’s levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. It may also heighten anxiety. Both of these situations can result in premature ejaculation.
Marijuana may also influence a person’s judgment, leading to risky sexual situations like unsafe sex or sex with a stranger. Such scenarios could increase the chances of sexually transmitted infections or unplanned pregnancy.
Research also suggests that using marijuana might increase a man’s risk for testicular cancer, as cannabinoid receptors are found in the testes as well.
Fertility problems are possible in men who use marijuana. Chemicals in the drug can affect sperm cells’ ability to swim toward an egg and fertilize it.
Experts say that the extent to which marijuana impairs a man’s sexual function can depend on dose and frequency of use. Men who use higher doses or use it more frequently are probably more likely to develop sexual problems than those who use marijuana only occasionally. Also, some people are more sensitive to marijuana’s effects than others.
Chemicals in marijuana can have other effects on the body and interact with medications a person takes. Therefore, it should be used only under the guidance of a doctor. People who feel their marijuana use is excessive are encouraged to talk to their healthcare provider or a drug abuse counselor.
Medical News Today
“Marijuana and erectile dysfunction: What is the connection?”
(April 25, 2017)
“Marijuana and Male Sexual Health”
(May 31, 2011)
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