There’s CBD in your deodorant, your serum, and your toothpaste. Your grandma’s using it for her arthritis. Even IKEA put CBD in meatballs (ew, but OK). The “green boom” and legalization of cannabis across many states has resulted in the normalization of hemp-based supplements and with the mainstream embracing CBD. (Maybe you even have some in your medicine cabinet right now.)
Chances are, you’ve also seen an explosion of CBD topicals (lubricants, creams, gels, and suppositories) and ingestibles (capsules, gummies, and tinctures/oils) geared towards boosting your sex life and sexual wellness.
As it turns out, there are a number of applications cannabidiol can have in the bedroom, from managing your hormones to alleviating pain, and even to increase your libido (so… buckle up).
A disclaimer: After almost 100 years of everything cannabis-related being off-limits, there’s not a ton of human research to back up CBD’s medical claims. One reason? “CBD is still considered a Schedule 1 drug on the Controlled Substance Act and as such, researchers and scientists are prohibited in doing studies,” says Bonni Goldstein, M.D., medical advisor to Weedmaps, a site that connects cannabis consumers, patients, retailers, doctors, and brands. So although anecdotal evidence has swelled like a tsunami (a survey from Remedy Review reported 68 percent of people said CBD improved their sex life), we’re still (eagerly) waiting for clinical backup.
Ahead, a look at what we do know about CBD’s ability to boost libido, enhance orgasm, foster intimacy, and more.
Pain, Be Gone
One of the best-known uses of CBD is as an analgesic — it’s used to relieve pain. And this is a big deal for many women when it comes to sex. Dyspareunia (a blanket term for disorders leading to painful sex) is a barrier that keeps upwards of 40% of women from enjoying — or even experiencing — intimacy and experiencing pleasure, according to some estimates.
There are a number of ways topical CBD can help, explains Colleen Gerson, a functional medicine coach and herbalist at Foria, a CBD sexual wellness brand. Lubricants and suppositories can “enhance pleasure and libido by increasing blood flow, which increases lubrication and sensation, relaxing smooth muscle tissue, and easing tension,” Gerson explains.
This probably comes down to CBD’s well-known anti-inflammatory properties and ability to relax the muscles (less pain, inflammation, and tension would all contribute toward alleviating dyspareunia).
Citing six years of feedback from the Foria customer base, the anecdotal evidence for this use is astounding, Gerson says. (Seriously, read the reviews. Claims include it “saved my marriage”.) What’s more, in a 2019 survey conducted by Remedy Review of over 500 adults, 98 percent of those surveyed said CBD helped alleviate pain during sex.
Achieving Orgasm, Starring CBD
If the big O has been slightly out of reach (or less than satisfying), enter: cannabis. A 2019 review paper showed cannabis led to longer, more satisfying orgasms.
How? CBD can increase blood flow to tissues and improve nerve sensation, both of which can help make sex more pleasurable while intensifying an orgasm.
“There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the direct application of CBD-infused lubricants to the genitalia increases blood flow to the area,” explains Robert Flannery, Ph.D. of Dr. Robb Farms. “An increase of blood flow to female genitalia has shown to increase sexual arousal and the intensity of orgasms. Both very good things.”
Less Stress, More Libido
When you’re stressed or anxious, sex is probably the farthest thing on your mind. Science confirms this, too — studies have shown that the stress hormone cortisol can lower your libido.
“It has been widely studied and shown that anxiety — both general and specific to sexual performance — limits a woman’s sexual arousal,” Dr. Flannery says. One of the biggest ways CBD consumption can help a woman’s sex life, especially for those suffering from sexual performance anxiety, is its ability to reduce anxiety (by triggering the serotonin receptor), he explains.
“By reducing cortisol and activating the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system), we’re going to drop into a more restful, receptive, sensually supportive capacity of the body,” adds Gerson. So if anxiety is getting in the way of your eh… extracurricular activities, consider CBD’s anxiolytic benefits as a potential solution.
Of note: this may just apply to women. One study showed that cannabinoids could potentially lower a man’s sex drive, though this particular study looked at marijuana (aka, all the cannabinoids, including THC), not just isolated CBD.
Balancing Hormone Levels=Higher Drive
CBD could potentially help your body balance hormone levels, which can increase sex drive. “The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) works overall to maintain homeostasis in the body, to regulate systems and organ function towards balance and harmony,” said Gerson. “So CBD’s relationship with our hormones and reproductive health is likely multifaceted, as ultimately a balanced body is fertile and vital (in it’s reproductive years).” She called hemp an “ally to hormone balance.”
This also comes down to how it (purportedly) helps the body deal with stress. In theory, if you manage bodily stress, your hormones will recalibrate as well. “While CBD can support some of the symptoms of hormone imbalance like pain, anxiety, or insomnia, it can also support via a key underlying root, stress,” says Gerson.
And FYI, if you’re open to it (and in a state where it’s legal), you might want to try THC, too, which may have an even greater impact than CBD to turn up the heat, Gerson adds.
Emotional Intimacy, Initiated
There’s another way CBD can improve your sex life: It can provide for a deeper emotional connection during intimacy.
Here’s how: “CBD increases the serum concentration of an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter called anandamide, which is closely associated with oxytocin, known as the ‘cuddle chemical,’ ‘hug hormone,’ ‘love hormone,’ or ‘moral molecule,’” Dr. Flannery explains. “Research has shown that an increase in anandamide during social contact, including a sexual experience, increases the pleasure of said contact.”
“The etymology of the word ‘anandamide’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘ananda,’ which translates to ‘joy, bliss, delight,’” he adds (sounds very kama sutra-esque). “This might give some insight as to what it can do.”