The good and bad of mixing sex and drugs

In the past, people used to talk about the cigarette afterward as the end of a sexual relationship. Today, with all the awareness campaigns about the effects of tobacco, it is a much less frequent ritual. But there are still people who do not hesitate to mix sex and drugs. What’s more, there are those who consider that consuming substances such as marijuana can be very beneficial for their sexual performance. Now, is there any truth to that?

Based on a recently published study, you could say yes. In it, it is pointed out that cannabis use could increase the intensity and even the number of orgasms, both in men and women. However, on the opposite side, we find a multitude of studies that show how the consumption of certain substances can cause everything from vaginal dryness to erectile dysfunction.

The debate on the mixture of sex and drugs is served. Probably not black or white, but perhaps more gray. That is, there may be some benefits, but these would not outweigh the harms of drug use at other levels. In addition, these benefits may carry certain biases.

Supposed benefits of mixing sex and drugs

According to a study recently published by scientists from the University of Eastern California, cannabis use could have certain benefits when it comes to sex.

811 people participated in it, aged between 18 and 85 years. All of them had to answer a series of surveys about their performance in sex and marijuana use. Thus, with little distinction between genders, it was seen that 70% said that this drug increased their sexual desire and the quality of orgasms. In addition, 40% of the women explained that the consumption of this drug increased their probability of having several orgasms in a single encounter.

On the other hand, a key piece of information is that more than half of those surveyed acknowledged having deliberately used this drug, knowing that they would have sexual intercourse. That is, they trusted its positive effects during a sexual encounter. Precisely for this reason, and in the absence of further research, the authors of the study acknowledge that there could be a certain placebo effect in their results.

In fact, it’s something you agree with Francisco Javier del Río Olvera, psychologist, sexologist and professor at the University of Cádiz. “When doing research on drugs, you have to take into account the variables that can affect the response,” he recounted in a conversation with CVBJ. “An important issue is that the amount of cannabis consumed by the participating people is not known, not only because of the number and frequency of consumption, but also because of the purity of the substance when they have consumed it.”

With this he refers to the fact that in many places the consumption of marijuana is still illegal, the purity is not regulated and can vary with each seller. Therefore, “it is likely that many people have consumed so little substance that it is the placebo effect that causes the changes.” In addition, he stresses that “the survey is not an adequate way to measure, because it has a higher percentage of subjectivity than a validated questionnaire.”

The role of disinhibition

Another aspect that both the authors of the study and del Río Olvera take into account is that the consumption of drugs such as marijuana causes great disinhibition. That may be what makes the person who takes them think that they increase their libido. But in reality it is totally subjective. In addition, he recalls that “because of its effects on the central nervous system, cannabis is considered a disturbing substance.” Therefore, “causes reality to be perceived in a distorted way, mainly through bodily sensations.”

The less affable face of the mixture of sex and drugs

On the opposite side of the study on sex and drugs published at the University of Eastern California, there is a multitude of investigations that point to the frequent use of cannabis as a trigger for erectile dysfunction. In fact, according to a review conducted in 2019, the data suggest that this phenomenon is twice as common in users of said drug. In addition, the sexologist from the University of Cádiz points out that this substance is also related to the appearance of vaginal dryness.

Both issues, on the other hand, can favor a loss of desire. It is not something strange, because consumers could avoid sex to avoid the typical pain of vaginal dryness or the hard time of erectile dysfunction.

Finally, it has been seen that it can also produce negative effects on fertility, both male and female. For all this, del Río Olvera summarizes the effects of the mixture of sex and drugs in three issues to take into account. It is applicable to cannabis, but also to many other substances.

“First, long-term substance use makes people more difficult to respond sexually than non-users. Second, the impairment in sexual response caused by substance use does not improve with the period of abstinence. And third, long-term substance use causes people to respond with more negative attitudes to sexual stimuli than people who have not used these substances.

Francisco Javier del Río Olvera, psychologist and sexologist.

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Why are there people who continue to consume?

Drug use before sex is very common. In fact, movements such as chemsex have even been promoted, whereby some people deliberately take certain substances, simply with the aim of improving their sexual performance. It is done in an organized way, sometimes even in groups, and includes substances ranging from methamphetamines to poppers.

Both in these cases, and in that of someone who decides to smoke a little marijuana before a relationship, a self-esteem problem is often hidden. The possibility of believing that you cannot have good sex if it is not with a little help from chemistry. “You have to keep in mind that if I am going to have a sexual encounter and there is a problem, not only do I experience the frustration of not measuring up, but I also look bad with the sexual partner,” explains del Río Olvera. “Instead, drug use is something that is supposed to only affect me.”

On the other hand, the sexologist refers to the fact that there are young people who start using drugs so soon that they do not know what it is to have sexual relations without them. This can vitiate the sexual act to the point that they feel that they cannot do it any other way. All of them are issues that should be dealt with by psychology professionals. Maybe not if it happens occasionally, but if it has become a habit. And it is that, according to science, the couple between sex and drugs does not marry well. Not even if you add rock and roll to the equation.

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