Updated on January 21, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
From a plain old bottle of tincture to a CBD-infused latte at a coffee shop, CBD’s popularity over the last few years has skyrocketed, hitting the market in many forms and appearing in a variety of products. Available to purchase in all 50 states, CBD is as accessible as it is versatile. Boasting numerous benefits, from pain relief to a better night’s sleep, there are some others to consider–and bring into the bedroom. There are multiple ways CBD use can lead to better sex.
The Link Between Mental Health and Sexual Health
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), anxiety disorders affect 18.1 percent of adults in the United States (approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54). These disorders, which include General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, OCD, and others, have many negative effects on sexual health, including loss of libido. Additionally, for people with penises, any sort of anxiety, including “performance anxiety,” can constrict blood flow in the body and lead to issues with achieving and maintaining an erection. For people with vulvas, anxiety and stress can trigger vaginal dryness, which results in the body not being lubricated enough for comfortable and pleasurable sex.
CBD’s Sexual Benefits for the Mind
When ingested, CBD can help reduce anxiety and encourage relaxation. Beyond helping combat the constriction of blood vessels and increasing both blood flow and sensation, CBD can help those with “busy” minds get out of their heads and remain present in the moment. When the mind is preoccupied by negative self-image and insecurity, the social taboos surrounding sex, or just the demands of everyday modern life, it can be near-impossible to focus on a partner or pleasure. CBD use can enable one to feel more cool, calm, and collected, which can lead to a better sexual experience.
CBD’s Sexual Benefits for the Body
There are many CBD products in the sexual health marketplace. One of the most popular is Foria–developed with Dr. Jennifer Berman (MD, urologist)–which started as a THC-infused product available only in California and Colorado. Recognizing the need to address national demand, Foria created a hemp-CBD line that includes a variety of products, including Awaken, an intimate oil, and CBD suppositories, which can be used vaginally or anally. For people with vulvas, users reported heightened sensation and reduction of inflammation and discomfort. In addition to helping those with chronic symptoms due to illness, such as the cramps and painful sex associated with endometriosis, CBD can also be used as aftercare to reduce pain, swelling, and soreness post-sex. Unfortunately, for people with penises, genital-focused topical CBD products may not be absorbed as easily, so ingesting CBD oil or utilizing CBD suppositories is often more effective.
CBD is Not a Cure-All
“CBD is not a magic cure,” says Ashley Manta, sex coach and Foria brand ambassador. Due to the lack of regulation in the CBD industry, Manta advises to always read the Certificate of Analysis of a CBD product to ensure it is free of pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals, and to always see a doctor first before choosing CBD when experiencing sexual pain. “It’s not going to create desire if there is none. If you’re in pain, see a doctor to rule out a medical issue before choosing a more holistic remedy like CBD,” Manta advises. “I like to tell people that cannabis helps address the things that get in the way of pleasure, connection, and intimacy, but it’s not a panacea.”
The Future of CBD and Sex
As the CBD industry grows–it’s expected to hit $22 billion by 2022–more and more CBD-based sexual health products will hit the market, like the first-ever CBD-lubricated condom, debuted by direct-to-consumer condom company “PS.”
“I look forward to seeing more science and regulation with regard to CBD products on the market and how they impact sexual experiences,” says Manta. “We need more peer-reviewed data and laboratory studies with fMRI machines, rather than just self-reported data. That data will allow manufacturers to create more specific dosing guidelines and tailor formulations to be as bioavailable as possible.”
About the author
About the author: Passionate about everything having to do with the body, Dana Hamilton writes about sex, dating, relationships, body image, and eating disorder recovery. She is a regular contributor to Playboy and her work has appeared in VICE, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, New York Magazine, Teen Vogue, and SELF, among other publications. https://www.linkedin.com/in/hamiltondana/