Does CBD help with sex? It’s a reasonable question to ask. CBD oil is absolutely everywhere these days, with hundreds of products making all kinds of health and wellness claims. It seems like the stuff does everything – why not try CBD as a sex enhancer?
Before you start using CBD oil for sex (or try out a CBD lube) it’s worth investigating what CBD can do for your sex drive. The answers are complex, and speak to the heart of what the human libido – and health and wellness in general – even is.
The Quest For A True Aphrodisiac
Human beings like to find simple solutions, even for complicated issues. Having trouble? Take a pill! This has resulted in some amazing innovations, but it isn’t always the best way to approach health and wellness (of which sexual intimacy is a vital component). Our bodies’ systems are intricate and interconnected, and the human sex drive is especially so. It lives in both the body and the mind, so it can be affected by many factors, from stress to pain to mood to hormonal imbalances. This may be why no magic-bullet aphrodisiac exists – even though people have been hunting for one for millennia!
Turning a lover on isn’t like turning on a faucet. There’s no magic potion you can give someone – or take yourself – that will automatically result in overwhelming desire. Enhancing libido requires a holistic, integrated approach – which is why CBD, which affects the human system in many ways, can be a potent addition to your intimacy toolkit.
And it’s worth noting that of all the plants and philtres that claim to be aphrodisiacs, bedroom adventurers throughout the ages seem to agree that cannabis, with its cohort of powerful phytocannabinoids including CBD, comes the closest. There may be a good reason for that – it’s because you have a lot in common with a bushy, funky herb. (Bear with us here.)
Sex and the Endocannabinoid System
We’ve talked about the endocannabinoid system a lot. Who could blame us? It’s a fascinating subject – a network of enzymes, receptors, and biological pathways that modulates many crucial processes in our bodies, from mood to energy to physical sensation to the perception of pain, many of which have a direct effect on sexual desire.
In a nutshell, your body produces chemicals, called endocannabinoids, that bear a strong resemblance to the phytocannabinoids, like THC and CBD, that are found in plants. These endogenous substances are critical to our overall health.
Although we still don’t know with 100% certainty what effect the ECS has on sex drive, studies indicate that endocannabinoid concentration in the body does play a significant role in arousal. And endocannabinoid receptors are especially dense in many areas of the body associated with reproduction, sexual pleasure and desire, including around the adrenal glands, the gonads (ovaries and testes) and other parts of the reproductive system, and throughout the parts of the brain most involved with libido, including the hypothalamus and hippocampus.
So the jury’s still out on exactly what your native endocannabinoids are doing to your sexual mojo – but we’re pretty sure it’s something good.
Where does CBD come in? CBD has been shown to increase production of the endocannabinoids your body is already making, that scientists believe may play a significant role in a healthy sex drive. CBD also prevents overproduction of endocannabinoids, helping to bring about blissful balance.
Steamy! CBD and vasodilation
When we’re turned on, our faces might flush. The erectile tissue in our genitalia becomes firm and swollen, and we feel warm all over. The mucous membranes in the vulva and vagina begin to produce natural lubrication. We might even start to sweat a little. It feels amazing – and it’s all caused by vasodilation, the way our blood vessels sometimes expand to allow more oxygenation to critical tissues.
CBD promotes vasodilation, especially when used as a topical – encouraging blood flow to the genitals, increasing sensitivity and enhancing natural lubrication. This isn’t something CBD does to you; it’s something your body already does, that CBD can help facilitate.
If the spirit is willing but the body is having a hard time keeping up, sometimes all it takes is a little nudge in the right direction to help you get all hot and bothered.
If it hurts – CBD and pain
Pain relief is a very popular use for CBD. Many people with pain conditions swear by CBD oil used as a tincture or topical, and there’s good science supporting CBD’s value as an analgesic. It works like over-the-counter painkillers do, inhibiting production of the enzymes that cause inflammation, without the potential side effects.
Most of us are comfortable talking about how to manage pain from headaches, arthritis and injuries. Painful sex, on the other hand, is still a taboo subject, even though it’s very common. It can be caused by a number of factors, including vaginismus, vulvodynia, pelvic floor dysfunction, interstitial cystitis, chronic pain disorders, and neurological issues.
Painful sex can affect libido severely, not only because the act itself is painful, but because anticipation of pain can put a major damper on desire. It’s hard to get excited if you know it’ll hurt, and it’s hard to feel good about feeling good if it doesn’t feel good in the first place.
Since CBD has been conclusively shown to help manage pain, and since anecdotal evidence abounds from people who have been shocked and delighted by how helpful it is for easing painful sex, a good CBD topical or suppository can help enhance libido by lessening or eliminating worry about pain, as well as the pain itself.
In the mood for love: CBD, stress, anxiety and mood
When we’re stressed out, anxious and exhausted, our sex drives may vanish altogether. This could be because our bodies know that troubled times aren’t great for making babies, and if the world feels like it’s crashing down around us, we probably have greater concerns than getting frisky.
Managing anxiety is beneficial for every aspect of health, because high levels of stress hormones coursing through our bodies for too long are terrible for us in general. Maintaining an enjoyable intimate life, solo or partnered, is vital to wellness – and yet it’s so easy to neglect this aspect of our lives and ourselves when we’re juggling dozens of stressors, tasks and calamities.
CBD has been shown to help moderate and balance anxiety and mood in several ways, including regulating the endocannabinoid system, regenerating damaged neurons, modulating the production of stress hormones, and helping us “unlearn” anxiety triggers. It may help us buy a little breathing room to tend ourselves in, and allow good things to grow – including the healthy desire and intimacy that stress and anxiety may have taken from us.
Sex and the Whole Self
When we start exploring how CBD can help with sex drive, it becomes obvious that an integrated approach is key. Our culture’s obsession with accomplishment and goal-seeking – not to mention the residual puritanism that keeps sex in its own separate category – can make us forget that sexuality is an important part of wellbeing. It isn’t just a thing that happens to us either. Sex can be an essential way we express ourselves, bond with our partners, and experience pleasure in our bodies and minds – and desire and libido are essential to that.
Sexual intimacy isn’t a task to accomplish or a benchmark to reach. It’s an integral component of our connection with wise, wild nature, and however we achieve it, we’d do well to remember that no matter what, it’s always ours, even though it might need a little nurturing – a little tending from time to time – with patience, gentleness and a few carefully-chosen tools.