Is Cannabis a Friend to the Flaccid or the Enemy of Erections?
A common question I get asked when talking about sex and cannabis is whether cannabis has an effect on erections. It’s a somewhat common concern, but don’t let it get inside your head (so to speak). The science around cannabis and erections is inconclusive at best, with one study suggesting the following finding:
“…frequency of cannabis use was unrelated to sexual problems in women but daily use vs. no use was associated with increased reporting among men of an inability to reach orgasm…reaching orgasm too quickly…and too slowly.”
The study concluded, “frequent cannabis use is associated with…difficulties in men’s ability to orgasm as desired.” Interestingly, another study suggested that cannabis could be used to treat erectile difficulties in people with high cholesterol.
In short? The jury is still out, so your mileage may vary.
Think Outside the Erection
As my friend and colleague Dr. Hernando Chaves points out, “Men typically view sex as goal-oriented, performance-driven, orgasm-centric, and erection focused.” Friendly reminder: not all penis owners identify as men, but the point remains. Many people with “outies” are socialized to believe that sex involves penetration of an erect penis into some sort of opening (mouth, vagina, or anus). This limiting belief can severely impact people’s ability to enjoy the sex they’re having because they get stuck trying to have the sex they see in porn or movies.
Our society places a great deal of emphasis on erections and attaches a lot of shame to difficulty achieving or maintaining one. If we let go of those narratives, it gives us permission to be present with the sexual space we’re creating. Exploring the body with toys, hands, fingers, and tongues, can allow us to see penises (and, more broadly, the genitals) as just another pleasurable place to explore, rather than focusing on them as the main event.
Can Cannabis-Infused Lubricants Help Maintain Erections?
“Does Foria work for penises too?” someone inevitably asks whenever I talk about the mind-blowing effects of the THC-infused coconut oil spray. The answer, like most things, requires some nuance. Strictly speaking, Foria absorbs into mucous membranes–the kind of skin that’s found inside your mouth, in a vulva, or inside the rectum. However an oft-forgotten mucous membrane exists within the foreskin of uncircumcised or intact penises, which does make them susceptible to the sexually enhancing effects of the spray. For those who are circumcised, sadly you are out of luck for mucous-targeted topicals.
Tools, Tips, and Toys That Can Help When Things Go South (and Soft)
If you find yourself preoccupied with the erectile implications of cannabis, I suggest adding a cock ring to your sexual toolbox, like this one from Tantus. Cock rings are applied (with lube!) when the penis is flaccid. As the blood starts to flow in, the ring prevents it from flowing back out, facilitating an erection. Many seasoned cock ring users report that having blood concentrated in the area enhances sensation. (Pro tip: The cock ring should go around the shaft and behind the testicles, so that the scrotum and penis are both pulled through it. This ensures pressure is placed on the artery that allows blood to flow back out of the penis.)
You should also consider the merits of flaccid fun. Soft penises get a bad rap, and I’m tired of it. The shaft and scrotum are just as sensitive when not erect, and can be sucked, massaged, and teased to the delight of the recipient. Get some lube and rub it all over their bits, and just explore. Try putting the entire thing in your mouth, or cupping it in your hands and nuzzling it. Experiment with pressure and movement. Pull (gently!) and stretch the skin of the scrotum between your fingers. Take a vibrator like the We-Vibe Touch or Tango and rub it all over the shaft, over the frenulum (the super sensitive triangular area under the head of the penis where the foreskin connects), and behind the balls on the perineum. There are lots of things to do in that area that are entirely unrelated to penetration!
If you’re concerned about how cannabis may be affecting your bedroom performance, experiment with different strains and consumption methods. See which ones affect you in ways you like vs. experiences you’d rather avoid.
Remember, according to Dr. Emily Nagoski, “Penises are like puppies. They respond poorly to commands. They don’t understand. And the more aggressive you get with your commands, the more they’ll just cower and duck and wait for you to calm down. But boy are they glad to see you, as long as nothing is telling them NOT to be glad to see you.”
If you’ve always wanted a primer on penises, here’s a YouTube video I made with famed adult performer and sex educator Nina Hartley. Now go forth and experiment!
Can cannabis positively or negatively impact your erection, or does it have no impact on your ability to keep things stiff in the bedroom?
How Does Cannabis Lube Affect Men?
I Tried Cannabis Lube and My Penis Got Ridiculously Stoned
AskMen does not claim that these products are intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any condition. Our writer is not a medical doctor, and their experience is based on personal use, the results of which may not be typical or intended. Be sure to check your local laws on cannabis before purchasing or using any products as laws vary by state.
As an openly bisexual individual who enjoys sex with both men and women, lube is nothing new to me. What is new to me, however, is lube containing THC and CBD (the psychoactive and phytocannabinoid compounds found in cannabis).
Will it tingle? Is it safe? How will it differ from regular lubricants? Will quality be sacrificed? Is there any high whatsoever? Is this all just a gimmick? I sought to find these answers by using the lube with another consenting individual … for research, of course.
Before trying the product, here’s what I knew about cannabis’s influence on sex: THC, a vasodilator in the cannabis plant, increases blood flow. This is the same thing that happens when your body responds to genital stimulation.
Research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that cannabis use is independently associated with increased sexual frequency and does not impair sexual function. In fact, daily users report having 20 percent more sex than those who have never used cannabis. An informal poll by Psychology Today also found that almost seven in 10 respondants felt cannabis enhanced their sex lives.
The bottle I used, while visibly sterile and covered in text, contained no instructions whatsoever. Although I had no idea how much to use or how to best apply it, I’m an intuitive individual, especially when it comes to matters of the genitals. According to online reviews, it’s best to start low and slow, gradually increasing your dose.
Following that guidance, I started with four spritzes, applying a few more just 30 minutes later. My initial impression was that it wasn’t as slippery as I expected. I eventually found this is because such products are more of an oil than they are a lube. Meaning, it’s not a cost-effective way to lubricate genitals. Cannabinoid-infused oil is something to reach for before sexy times begin as a preparation tool.
The only physical sensation I experienced was that my genitals felt unexpectedly microwaved. According to Ashley Manta, sex coach and CannaSexual creator, the sudden warmth made sense — as the compounds in the oil expand capillaries, which usher more blood flow in the area, a warm flushing sensation will occur.
However, my penis was starting to feel numb, too. This is an experience Manta has heard less often, so here’s what I think happened: My penis was stoned. I’d lose my erection and it would stand at attention minutes later. Much like myself the first time I’d had cannabis, my dick was temporarily confused, lazy and lethargic. It wanted to nap and maybe watch “Game of Thrones.”
“Some people with penises do report greater difficulty with erections in the presence of cannabis, while others report the exact opposite,” says Manta. “It’s quite subjective, so it’s good to try new products on your own so you know what to expect. If the oil you’re using isn’t creating the desired effects, I’d choose a different oil or abandon it altogether.”
Unfortunately for me, I’d tested a product in the presence of a sexual partner, so I put in double the effort to get the job done. It’s also worth noting that most THC/CBD lubes don’t work well with latex condoms, so be sure you and your partner are 100 percent on the same page if you choose not to wear protection.
Overall, the experience is different from the head high one gets from smoking weed. Rather, it was more localized. Once applied and absorbed, THC acts locally on the cannabinoid receptors, similar to an edible. The THC dilates the capillaries and increases blood flow in the smallest blood vessels in the body, which magnifies sensitivity and sensation.
My female partner reported a similar warming sensation, but enjoyed how it felt when I entered her. She also reported being wetter than normal. In other words, the experience was much more enjoyable for her. According to Manta, this makes perfect sense as the vulva has much more exposed mucosa (like the inside of your mouth) than the penis does. As a result, it is better for absorption.
For the penis, there doesn’t seem to be much of an advantage. If anything, I lost sensation. “For folks with penises, I’d suggest trying infused oil on your own to see if it makes a positive impact, perhaps during a genital massage or prior to penetration,” suggests Manta. She adds that cannabinoid-infused oil works better people with vulvas. “I’ve found that it’s great for reducing pain with penetration while simultaneously increasing pleasurable sensations and creating a physiological response that lends itself to more easily accessible orgasms,” she says.
Since (mostly straight) women are the gender primarily impacted by the orgasm gap, it’s good to know THC intimacy sprays can assist in such matters. But if you’re a guy who really wants to give it a try, Manta suggests using a bit of the infused lube with non-infused lube to mimic that warming sensation. “THC/CBD oil can also be made into DIY suppositories and inserted anally, which is arguably a superior delivery method than penile absorption,” mentions Manta. “Even if you’re not doing anal play specifically, it can relax the pelvic region and offer relief from low back pain.”
Or . just don’t use it at all. Sure, products derived from cannabis may be trendy, but that doesn’t mean their divine magic works for everyone or for every organ. For this guy right here? I’ll be sticking with water-based lubes for now.
Cannabis lube is a new phenomenon in the sexual space. We decided to find out if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.