Everything you need to know about CBD, sex, and pleasure

“So, how does this work?” my boyfriend asked while he inspected a CBD lubricant and body oil, both of which claimed to increase blood flow, heighten sensitivity, and relieve tension during sexual activities. I was hesitant to try them. With so much CBD-washing happening, companies claim that CBD is a cure-all for everything from stress to chronic pain to sexual pleasure. But how legit are these claims, and more importantly, can CBD lube actually be used to spice up your sex life?

To give a little background, CBD (cannabidiol) is derived from hemp and cannabis plants. It’s different from THC in that it’s non-psychoactive, which means you won’t experience the “high” effect that THC is known to deliver. However, it’s been proven to help reduce pain, stress, anxiety, and inflammation. Of course, keep in mind that all of these claims are based on individual people and situations—what might work for one person, simply might not work for another. 

What should you look out for when buying CBD and CBD lube?

If you do plan on jumping on the CBD train, you have to make sure the product(s) you’re using actually contain CBD. Gretchen Lidicker, author of CBD Oil: Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness advises, “The biggest thing is to look for a brand that is third-party lab testing their products for potency and purity. It seems crazy, but there’s currently no regulatory body making sure that what’s on the label of your CBD products is actually in the bottle.” Yikes.

This is why it’s great that companies like Miss Grass, a highly vetted online cannabis shop, are an option. According to cofounders Kate Miller and Anna Duckworth, “We very carefully vet the products that we put on our platform for quality, efficacy, and safety. In fact, we have an entire list of ingredients that we will not feature in our Miss Grass marketplace. All products are third-party lab tested, and we have experts test products for their efficacy. We want to offer our community the best-in-class products to choose from and rest easy knowing they all feature the highest quality ingredients available.” 

When it’s time to read your CBD label, Lidicker also suggests that you should “always opt for full-spectrum CBD products over a CBD isolate. Research consistently shows that a full-plant extract is more effective than products containing just one isolated compound.”

How does CBD affect sex?

Okay, so now that you have the right CBD product, let’s talk about sex. It makes sense to me (not a scientist or medical professional, just a fan of having a good time) that they would go together since my personal experiences with marijuana (it’s legal here in the state of California) and sex have, well, haven’t been that great. Marijuana either makes me tired, ticklish, or giggly, none of which I find particularly sexy. But if CBD can make me feel relaxed without getting high AF, that could be fun.

Lidicker, who wrote an in-depth report about the connection between sex and cannabis, says there currently is no research supporting the connection between CBD and sex, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence. “CBD’s calming properties are one way it could potentially spice up your sex life. The endocannabinoid system, which is the larger regulatory system in the body that CBD interacts with, has also been connected to libido and sexual function in the medical literature,” she says. Lidicker advises the best way to use CBD with sex is to “try taking it sublingually 30 minutes to an hour before [having] sex or using one of the many CBD-infused lubricants. (I like Hemple x Alfie CBD Love Gel.)” 

According to Dominnique Karetsos, Sexpert for Coconu, which will be launching a CBD lubricant in 2020, CBD’s ability to reduce stress is what makes it an ideal sex-essory. “When you diminish stress and inhibition and bring on relaxation, you’re already halfway into the euphoria of pleasure. [And when] you’re relaxed, you may find that your sensations are heightened. Not because you’re on a high, but [because] your improved mental state means you more likely to touch and connect with either your body or another’s,” says Karetsos. “All of this translates to a positive pleasure experience. And with arousal comes blood flow, and with blood flow comes improved lubrication, reduced anxiety, and possible pain relief if there is any.” 

So, medically speaking, why does this happen? According to medical advisor for cannabisMD, and family practitioner, Dr. Junella Chin, CBD might have more of an effect on women sexually than it does on men because of how it interacts with estrogen as it breaks down.

“Women are more sensitive to the effects of the chemical compounds within cannabis—cannabinoids and terpenes in particular. When [women] are at peak fertility—and particularly when [they] ovulate—[their] estrogen will interact with cannabis, often increasing the effects," Dr. Chin says. "The endocannabinoid system impacts specific systems in women’s bodies that either produce or are affected by estrogen, specifically your endocrine (hormone production) system and reproductive system (i.e. your ovaries, uterus, and vagina).

So not only can CBD be used for playtime with your partner, but it also might be helpful to alleviate pain when you’re menstruating or experiencing pain during sex. Dr. Chin explains, “Cannabis and CBD could potentially help alleviate pain conditions and symptoms that women may experience along with their menstrual cycles as well as other female-specific health conditions including PMS, dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, and interstitial cystitis, which could lead to a healthier sex life.”

Are there any side effects with using CBD during sexual experiences?

I will say, when I used Foria’s Awaken CBD Lubricant  and Cordial Organics Ritual Body Oil with my partner, it was a pleasurable experience. I felt free of paranoia, anxiety, exhaustion, and poorly timed laughing fits. Physically, the CBD lubricant heightened my senses and sensations. My body was completely at ease and it was an overall positive experience. For me personally, no issues arose at all, and I would highly recommend this sex-essory.

If you’re thinking of using any of these lubricants or CBD tinctures, Dr. Chin says there shouldn’t be much to worry about. “CBD is not shown to be harmful at optimal therapeutic low doses. [However,] in preclinical animal models and in human clinical trials [used] with extremely high doses, liver enzymes can be affected. It also can cause nausea and stomach upset,” she says.

The truth is, there’s unfortunately not enough research to support the relationship between CBD and sex. But before you decide to include it into your sexual wellness routine, consult with your doctor or OB-GYN to see if it’s the right fit for you. 

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