To cut to the chase, the most significant finding of this first-of-its-kind study is that women who regularly use cannabis are less likely to experience sexual dysfunction. (Sexual dysfunction is defined as persistent, recurrent problems with sexual response, desire, orgasm, or pain.)
And that’s not all. The research also showed a lesser correlation between increased cannabis use and improved sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, and overall satisfaction.
Mountains of anecdotal evidence aside, this isn’t the first study to look into the correlation of cannabis and sexual experience. In fact, the authors of the study begin by acknowledging several past studies on cannabis’ effect on sexual arousal and sex steroid hormones.
Prior studies, for example, have found a positive dose-dependent effect on arousal (meaning more cannabis equals higher levels of arousal) as well as increased pleasure. But these studies have either been very small or were less reliable because they used a mix of “validated and non-validated research implements.” (Surveys which may not have been assessed for their dependability.)
Other prior research has hypothesized that increased endocannabinoids may be associated with increased arousal. But there has been a noticeable lack of research into other areas of female sexual function, like lubrication, pain, and overall satisfaction.
While researchers have yet to figure out how it all works, cannabis use does correlate strongly with lower levels of sexual dysfunction in women.
Interestingly, one large study conducted in Australia found that while “frequent cannabis use is associated with higher numbers of sexual partners for both men and women,” only men reported experiencing sexual dysfunction (such as an inability to orgasm) as a result of using cannabis. Women did not report these issues.
This most recent study certainly bears out that finding, as least as far as the data pertaining to women. Because of the limitations of previous research, though, researchers used a validated questionnaire – the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) which measures levels of sexual functioning in women.
Their first step was to recruit women via a cannabis dispensary, and 452 women volunteered to participate in the anonymous study. All the women were between the ages of 30 and 49, and 72.8 reported using cannabis more than six times per week.
The women who chose to take part provided extensive information beyond the FSFI, including demographic information, past medical history, and adult drug use habits (like frequency of cannabis use and their method of consumption – flower was the preference).
Because the researchers were also interested to find out if there were any links between types of cannabis and sexual experience, participants also answered questions about their primary cannabis chemovar (THC or CBD dominant).
Turns out, the type of cannabis seemed to have little effect on results. In fact, neither the chemovar, the reason for using, or method of use had any reliable impact on FFSI scores.
However, other survey outcomes did stand out. Most significantly, statistically speaking, was the finding that women who reported more cannabis use reported higher FSFI scores – meaning higher levels of sexual function. And for each additional step of cannabis use intensity (ie, times per week), the odds of reporting female sexual dysfunction declined by 21%.
Other domains of sexual function, like sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, and overall satisfaction also showed small increases in index scores compared with less frequent cannabis users.
This is all good news for female cannabis users. But the authors make clear that there are still vast unknowns surrounding cannabis and sexual function. For example, could cannabis possibly be a treatment for female sexual dysfunction? The authors posit that it’s too early to say. But this study certainly points in the direction of further study.