Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get and keep an erection. It is a common condition. ED may lead to stress and relationship issues.
If ED happens now and then, there’s often no need for concern. If it’s frequent, it may be a symptom of another condition. In that case, treating the other condition may resolve ED.
Marijuana comes from the leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the Cannabis sativa hemp plant. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana’s main chemical is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It also has over 100 related chemicals known as cannabinoids.
Short-term marijuana effects include altered senses, altered sense of time, mood changes, impaired movements, difficulty thinking, and memory issues. Taken over the long term, marijuana may affect brain development and learning.
Many states legalized marijuana for medical use. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved it for any medical condition. Conditions eligible for medical marijuana vary by state, and may include:
- hepatitis C
- wasting diseases
- seizures and epilepsy
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Lou Gehrig’s disease
- multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s disease
Medical marijuana is not approved for ED. Some states allow marijuana use for conditions not on the approved list, if your doctor identifies them as debilitating.
Marijuana is smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or inhaled through pipes (bongs). Some people make marijuana tea or mix it into baked goods such as cookies, brownies, and candy.
Marijuana is often associated with side effects that may affect sexual health.
- Marijuana may help reduce damage caused by high cholesterol.
- Marijuana has been associated with increased sexual desire and arousal.
High cholesterol is a risk factor for ED. A study published in Clinical and Developmental Immunology discovered that marijuana may help reduce tissue buildup and damage caused by high cholesterol. However, the study was conducted on mice, not humans, so more research is needed.
Marijuana has a reputation of giving users a euphoric-like experience. Some users report moods that may improve sexual experiences, such as:
- elevated mood
- sexual desire
- Some studies suggest that marijuana may contribute to ED.
- Daily marijuana use might lead to trouble achieving orgasm in some men.
However, marijuana may not always be the sexual boost it’s known for. A review published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found that it may actually increase the risk of erectile dysfunction in men. Studies show when THC reaches the brain, it gives users the feeling of being “high.” This interferes with your body’s normal functions. It may also impact normal function of the penis’s smooth muscle, and cause ED.
Another study found that daily marijuana use in men leads to trouble achieving orgasm.
According to the Mayo Clinic, marijuana is also a possible cause of gynecomastia. This condition is an enlargement of the breasts in men caused by a hormone imbalance, which could affect sexual performance.
Marijuana may cause dangerous drug interactions that include the following:
- It may interfere with blood thinners and increase bleeding risk. Use with caution if you take blood thinners such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), warfarin (Coumadin), and naproxen (Aleve).
- It may affect blood sugar levels. Use with caution if you take medications that affect blood sugar such as insulin.
- It may lower blood pressure. Be careful if you take blood pressure medications.
- It may increase drowsiness when taken with drugs that cause drowsiness, such as Ativan and Valium.
Taking Viagra with marijuana may not be a smart move. A paper published in Clinical Cardiology showed that marijuana prevents Viagra from being properly metabolized, which increases its effects. This can mean an increased risk of heart problems.
Other drug interactions are possible. If you use marijuana, tell your doctor before taking any prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
Few large-scale, high-quality studies have explored the connection between marijuana and sexual health. Whether the drug enhances sex or ruins it depends on many factors. These may include the variety used, your overall health, and your views on sexual health.
If you have ED and are wondering if marijuana may help, talk to your doctor. They’ll help you weigh the benefits with potential risks and side effects, both sexual and otherwise.