How Pot Can Hurt — & Help — Your Sex Life

Photographed by Lula Hyers.
Among its many lovely effects, cannabis seems particularly well-suited to enhancing sex. But, if you're new to marijuana, internet anecdotes suggest you may experience a weird and possibly painful side effect: vaginal dryness.
Unfortunately, there's very little actual research out there when it comes to this. And what research does exist is "far from conclusive," says Dustin Sulak, DO, a medical cannabis expert based in Maine. Plus, the potential biological mechanism behind the effect is pretty much entirely unknown.
However, Dr. Sulak also says that many of his patients have mentioned dryness or pain during penetrative sex while using cannabis. So it's not totally made up. But, considering the plethora of evidence we have that marijuana can actually enhance the experience of sex, this is pretty surprising. How can one plant have two totally opposite effects?
Well, when we're talking about dryness, it's "baseline vaginal dryness," Dr. Sulak says. Meaning: You might feel drier than you would without the cannabis during your normal, everyday life. But, once sexually stimulated, you can expect to be just as aroused as usual — if not more so.
The even better news is that the dryness often goes away after a while. "Like dry mouth, it seems to happen more in new users," Dr. Sulak says. "Over time, they develop a tolerance to that effect." So, if your dryness — oral or vaginal — is causing any issues, know that they are probably not permanent.
In the meantime, though, there are a few ways to make sure your sexual experiences are as pleasurable as possible. First off, Dr. Sulak recommends not having penetrative sex until you're already stimulated and aroused. But if you do happen to be a penetration-right-away sort of person, using lube will help keep you comfortable.
And, of course, if you're someone who's new to cannabis, it may help to keep your dose on the lower end until you build up a tolerance. Indeed, if you can cut back, there's no reason to think that you have to give it up in order to have great sex — especially because it may lead to even better sex. "[That's] not just through the enhancement of physical pleasure, but also emotional openness," Dr. Sulak says.
"There might be times where you think you’re using cannabis to have sex," he continues, "but you’re really using it to talk about what’s blocking a productive sex life, improving communication, fostering forgiveness, and feeling more connected — that’s all part of enhancing sexual pleasure."
Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws.

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