One of the most polarizing substances on the planet, cannabis has been called everything from nature’s medicine to a dangerous drug. But with a growing number of states legalizing for medicinal and recreational use, acceptance of cannabis as a legitimate medical treatment is growing.
Chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, nausea, and epilepsy are the most common conditions that cannabis is used to treat. But many other medical issues lie in a grey zone without enough scientific research to determine if cannabis is a viable treatment option. In the case of erectile dysfunction, some evidence seems to suggest cannabis could help, while other studies point to cannabis as a potential cause of ED.
Marijuana and Male Fertility
One aspect of cannabis and male sexuality that seems to be settled is in its negative effects on fertility:
- Lower sperm counts – Men who smoke marijuana frequently have less seminal fluid and lower total sperm counts compared to non-smoking fertile men.
- Poor sperm motility – The sperm produced by men who frequently smoke marijuana also seem to have difficulty reaching an egg to fertilize it.
Marijuana and Erectile Dysfunction
As far as the impact that cannabis has on a man’s ability to achieve or maintain an erection, science is as mixed as public opinion.
- The same type of cannabinoid receptors in our brains (responsible euphoric feelings) have also been found in the smooth muscle of the penis.
- Some animal studies have found activating these receptors causes the muscle relaxation required for erection. But other studies suggest cannabis had the opposite effect on these receptors, and could contribute to sexual dysfunction.
- A lack of randomized, controlled trials in humans makes it difficult to say if cannabis actually has a significant impact on ED.
Regular cannabis users have been touting the drug’s power as an aphrodisiac for decades. More recently there’s been scientific evidence to help support their claim.
- In a large review of cannabis studies, half of users said the drug had aphrodisiac effects, and 70 percent experienced enhancement in sexual pleasure.
- Men with ED don’t necessarily have low libido. So working as an aphrodisiac or enhancing sexual pleasure doesn’t necessarily translate to treating erectile dysfunction. But in ED that has psychological components, the enhancing effect of cannabis could provide an extra push in the right direction.
- The review also found that cannabis as an aphrodisiac has very similar effects on men and women. Meaning it could be considered as an option for treating low libido in anyone.
One potential challenge is in exactly how much cannabis use is needed to produce these effects.
- Mild to moderate cannabis use on a regular basis – about one joint every four days – was associated with the most positive sexual effect.
- Less frequent cannabis use may not have much effect on sexual desire or pleasure.
- Marijuana abusers appear to have that lead to reduced feelings of pleasure.
Politics of Studies
When it comes to how cannabis affects our bodies and brains, lack of research is a huge problem. Despite recent legalization in several states, the US Federal Government still considers cannabis an illegal drug. Approval from several organizations is needed to conduct any research studies on it. Many of the studies that are commissioned are heavily influenced by political biases.
In 2016 the DEA announced it would continue to classify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug considered to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”. Critics of this decision say there’s a lack of evidence for medical cannabis because restrictions make it too difficult for scientists to conduct proper studies.
Cannabis could help to improve some men’s sexual function, but frequent or excessive use could actually be the cause of other men’s ED. Dosage, individual response, and even the specific strain could all factor into whether weed helps or hurts your sex life.
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DISCLAIMER: The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.