American men and women who use marijuana tend to have sex more often, a new Journal of Sexual Medicine study reports.
Marijuana use has increased in the United States, and the drug has been legalized for medical or recreational use in twenty-nine states. However, research on its effects on sexual function have had mixed results. Some experts claim that it improves sexual arousal and enjoyment, while some maintain that it weakens erectile function. Others have found that marijuana can be beneficial for sex in smaller doses, but not large ones.
For the current study, researchers focused on data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), a nationally representative survey of men and women between the ages of 15 and 44 living in the United States. Participants in the NSFG answered questions about their family status, sexual relationships, and reproductive health.
Using NSFG data from 2002, 2006-2010, and 2011-2015, the researchers identified 28,176 women and 22,943 men who had had sexual intercourse with an opposite-sex partner during the previous four weeks. Because of the phrasing of the NSFG questions, homosexual encounters could not be included. The participants’ average age was 30 years.
Overall, about 25% of the men and 15% of the women reported ever using marijuana.
The researchers found a positive association between marijuana use and sexual frequency over all the NSFG cycles studied. Participants who used marijuana more often had more frequent sex.
On average, women who did not use marijuana in the previous year had sex about 6.0 times during the previous four weeks. Those who used marijuana every day had sex about 7.1 times during that same period.
Similarly, men who did not use marijuana had sex an average of 5.6 times during the previous four weeks. Male daily users had sex 6.9 times.
This trend remained even after accounting for demographic factors like age, race and ethnicity, and education.
The authors noted several limitations. For example, marijuana users might be less inhibited than non-users and this trait may affect their sex lives as well.
“Individuals who engage in marijuana use, or would be open about use, might be more psychologically disinhibited in general than those who are not. This also might be reflected in their sex life, adding a potential confounder. Related to this, psychiatric diagnoses were not queried and could not be assessed,” they wrote.
In addition, the survey participants’ age was capped at 44, so it is unclear how marijuana might affect sexual frequency in older adults. Also, the survey supplied data only on heterosexual relationships, not homosexual ones.
There are still questions to be answered on the effects of marijuana use on sexual function itself, the authors added. They suggested future research in this area to include erectile function, ejaculatory time, orgasm, and vaginal lubrication.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Sun, Andrew J., MD and Michael L. Eisenberg, MD
“Association Between Marijuana Use and Sexual Frequency in the United States: A Population-Based Study”
(Full-text. November 2017)