Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found in the cannabis plant. It doesn’t cause the “high” associated with marijuana use. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the compound in cannabis that induces that feeling. However, CBD may have other benefits for the body.
Because of this, manufacturers have isolated CBD and added it to many products, including those to help you in the bedroom. Purported benefits include boosting libido and increasing lubrication.
Is CBD only a buzzword or can it actually help your sex life? Read on to find out what research tells us so far.
To understand how CBD might help your sex life, let’s take it back to how researchers think CBD works on the body.
Inside your body are tiny receptors that are part of a whole system scientists call the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Think of these receptors as the locks that the key — in this case, CBD — can activate.
While CBD doesn’t “unlock” them directly, it can set off a series of reactions in the body that stimulate the system. Through CBD’s indirect activation, the body responds in a variety of ways, including as an anti-inflammatory and anticonvulsant.
According to a 2009 article published in the journal Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, researchers have found ECS receptors in the sexual reproductive organs, such as the testicles. They’re also present in the brain.
What happens next is controversial. Some research studies have found that cannabinoids such as CBD and THC boost libido, while others have found they decrease it.
One article in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics Trusted Source reported that chronic cannabis use in males lowered sex drive. The more they use, the lower their sex drive is.
Other research suggests CBD products may improve libido by reducing anxiety. Some people have anxiety about sexual performance, which decreases their libido. Relieve anxiety, and the desire for sex may go up.
A review of currently available literature about CBD and anxiety published in the journal Neurotherapeutics Trusted Source found that CBD may reduce anxiety, including social anxiety disorder. However, there aren’t many human trials on this issue, so it’s hard to recommend CBD dosages or say for sure it works.
For this reason, a lot of reports about CBD helping sex drive are anecdotal. Maybe your friend tried it and raves about it. But then your other friend didn’t feel any different at all. Since there aren’t a lot of research studies specific to CBD and libido, it’s tough to say right now that it helps.
There isn’t a lot of research out there about CBD and sexual benefits, but there are emerging products on the market designed to help with the following sexual concerns.
Erectile dysfunction (ED)
According to an article in the journal BioMed Research International Trusted Source, Ayurveda practitioners have used Cannabis sativa, the plant from which marijuana and CBD are derived, for many years to improve ejaculatory function and sexual performance.
The exact way that CBD may help ED isn’t fully understood. One theory is that CBD could help relax the blood vessels and promote blood flow. Better blood flow to the penis can relieve ED and promote longer-lasting sex.
The problem is that doctors haven’t specifically tested the effects of CBD on the penis. A small study published in the journal JCI Insight Trusted Sourcefound that a single dose of CBD helped to reduce blood pressure. But the researchers in this study were looking at arteries that led to the heart and not ones that went to the groin.
For those who struggle with dryness and painful sex, adding a lubricant can improve sexual performance and relieve pain. Many CBD manufacturers are making lubricants that incorporate CBD as a means to enhance sexual pleasure.
Researchers have studied the effects of topical CBD as a dermatology treatment. According to a 2010 article in the journal Fitoterapia, topical CBD has an anti-inflammatory effect, which could theoretically make sex more comfortable. However, there aren’t any studies specific on CBD and lubrication.
Low sex drive
Another theory is that cannabis affects sexual desire directly in the brain. A 2017 study Trusted Source of cannabis users found that cannabis activated the part of people’s brains that controls sexual arousal. The authors concluded that using cannabis may be helpful for people with a low sex drive.
It’s certainly possible CBD could reduce ED, enhance sexual pleasure, and boost libido, but there’s not enough current research to prove these theories.
The potential side effects of cbd usually depend on how you’re using it.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to CBD or the components used to deliver the product, like oils or fragrances. Others report stomach upset, loss of appetite, and fatigue after using CBD, but symptoms are usually mild. Drug interactions are also possible.
While CBD may have benefits when it comes to sex itself, scientists have concerns about how using the cannabis plant affects fertility. A 2006 research review published in the journal Endocrine Reviews listed some of the known effects marijuana use has on fertility. These include:
- decreases levels of follicle-stimulating hormone in men and women
- decreases normal sperm development in men, which can reduce fertilization
- affects a woman’s normal reproductive cycle, including ovulation
The key consideration here is that these are the effects of cannabis that also contains THC, the cannabinoid that causes a high. Scientists haven’t broken out fertility effects by cannabinoid, so it’s tough to say if CBD, THC, or something else in cannabis is the concern.
If you’re hesitant to use THC or can’t access it legally, then you can stick to hemp-derived CBD. Hemp is the cannabis plant that only contains trace amounts of THC (not enough to cause a high).
If you’re considering having a baby with your partner in the next few years, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether you should be concerned with using CBD for sex or any other purpose.
You can incorporate CBD products into your sex life in a variety of ways. Examples include:
- eating CBD edibles before sex to promote more fulfilling sex
- using a CBD massage oil as foreplay
- applying CBD lubricants to reduce dryness and enhance pleasure
- taking CBD oil before sex to reduce anxiety and boost sensation
As researchers further examine CBD’s sexual effects, the list will likely grow.
As marijuana and hemp-related laws have changed across the country, CBD still remains a gray area. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be the governing body that monitors CBD.
Currently, FDA experts Trusted Source are collecting information and data to find out more about CBD and its side effects. Until then, it’s best to check out your state and local laws regarding CBD and whether you can currently use it legally.
It’s likely in the coming years that the FDA will enact greater regulations over the CBD market, including information on safe dosages, drug interactions, and risks related to long-term exposure.
CBD products designed to enhance sex are starting to become more available. Right now, there’s more talk than research on how well the products work.
Because CBD products currently don’t have many known side effects, they may be worth trying if you’re looking for ways to enhance your sex life.
However, if you’re considering having a baby with your partner, talk with your doctor about the risks of using CBD products.
Is CBD Legal? Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.