There have been few scientific studies done on how marijuana affects the sex drive or sexual stamina of the user. In fact, marijuana can have a varied effect on the brain, body, health, sex and relationships of every person using it. One of the more interesting aspects of marijuana is that for all its potency, the risk of addiction is low and it is not possible to die from an overdose of the drug. However, not all marijuana users experience pleasure as the drug behaves differently in different individuals.
How Marijuana Affects the Brain
The component of the herb having the greatest effect on the brain is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). When marijuana is ingested in an edible form or inhaled as smoke, THC and other active ingredients in the drug are absorbed through the lungs or stomach and into the blood stream. These chemicals are then carried to the brain and other bodily organs. The chemicals mimic natural ones that the body produces. As a result, they activate certain brain cell receptors that release chemicals like dopamine producing a pleasurable sensation. Dopamine and other chemicals produce both good and bad mental effects. Marijuana is able to produce a variety of stimulant, depressant or hallucinogenic sensations.
During the peak high phase, some users report altered senses of sight, hearing and touch. Others see colors brighter than normal and enhanced pleasure listening to music. Some experience hyper feelings of happiness, relaxation, relief from anxiety, creativity and euphoria. Still others report an altered sense of time, impaired cognition, memory problems, lack of motivation, depression, anxiety and paranoia.
Effects with Continuous Use
The long term effects of marijuana use may result in poor health due to lack of motivation to exercise in combination with the added factor of increased appetite. Interestingly, though the use of marijuana presents a low risk potential for organ damage or death, setting it in a different category from opioids and other illegal substances. Marijuana has been proven to actually help patients deal with diseases including glaucoma, cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and more.
Sexual effects vary among individuals from some becoming aroused and stimulated, while an equal number experience an opposite effect. Still others lie somewhere in between reporting that sometimes they are aroused and sometimes they have no interest whatsoever in sex.
How Marijuana Affects the Sex Drive in Men
Research on how marijuana affects sexual arousal in women is difficult to find and may not exist. It may be assumed that the impact on the sex hormones in women is either of no consequence or science has simply shown no interest in researching the subject.
There have been few studies in men as well, but one recent study by three researchers at the University of Texas, found that THC possibly affects male sexuality in two phases. The researchers became interested in the subject because of the dichotomy in reports of enhanced sexual desire by a number of men who used marijuana versus the reports of decreased sexual desire in an equal number of users.
In studies on mice, the researchers measured blood levels of testosterone and leutienizing hormone or LH which stimulated the production of testosterone within the first hour after feeding mice the THC. The results showed the testosterone levels in all the mice jumped almost instantly to six times normal. The mice receiving low doses of THC maintained a high level of testosterone for an hour while those receiving the high doses of the drug had a drastic drop in testosterone after 20 minutes to levels well below the mice in the control group.
In a marijuana user, the THC enters the bloodstream rapidly with an almost instant effect on the testes. This could account for reports of dramatic sexual arousal in men during and right after smoking or ingesting marijuana.
These results may also add insight to previous reports of depleted testosterone levels among heavy, long-term marijuana users. In the case of sexual stimulation where no THC exists, LH production takes about 20 minutes, then travels from pituitary to the testes and back again. Heavy doses of THC disrupt this normal flow and automatically shuts the flow down when the brain senses the sex hormones have reached adequate levels.
Heavy doses of THC also disrupt the normal hormonal flow by triggering LH and testosterone production simultaneously 20 minutes after the THC has been introduced into the bloodstream. Mice receiving low doses of THC did not show this steep decline in hormone levels.
This would explain the contradiction of marijuana being an aphrodisiac in some men and a suppression of sexual desire in others. It may simply be a factor of how much THC has been released into the body by heavy vs light use of marijuana.
The affects of marijuana on the body regardless of gender will hopefully attract more research now that it is legalized for recreational purposes in eight states and for medical purposes in 29 states and DC. At this point, the major outcome of the few scientific studies that have been undertaken is that marijuana, especially in relation to sex drive, affects every user differently.