Source: New Scientist
Date: 24 August 2009

Regular marijuana usage robs men of sexual highs

picture of cannabis smoker

Ewen Callaway

Stoners may be trading sexual highs for the chemical kind. Males who smoke marijuana daily are four times more likely to have trouble reaching orgasm than men who don't inhale, finds a new study of 8,656 Aussies.

Other smokers had the opposite problem, experiencing premature ejaculation at nearly three times the rate of non-smokers, find a team led by Marian Pitts at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

Her team analysed data collected as part of a 2005 telephone survey of 16 to 64-year-olds. Overall, 8.7 per cent of respondents said they had gotten high in the last year, with twice as many men (11.2 per cent) admitting to marijuana use as women (6.1 per cent). People under 36 were more likely to smoke marijuana than older participants.

Even though many male smokers experienced sexual problems, they reported more partners than non-smokers. Marijuana users were twice as likely to have had two or more sex partners in the previous year than men who didn't smoke pot.

Smoking in bed

Pitts' team found an even stronger trend for increased sexual activity among female smokers, who were also seven times more likely to have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection in the last year than non-smokers. However, female smokers had no more problems in the bedroom than abstainers, Pitts' team found.

Her team's results generally back up prior studies connecting increased promiscuity and sexual problems to marijuana use.

For instance, a 2007 study led by Marie Eloi-Stiven at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York found that marijuana users were far more likely than others to take sildenafil (Viagra) recreationally. This is presumably to counteract the perceived libido-sapping effects of marijuana, her team concluded.

Complicating factors

However, the new study doesn't establish a cause-effect relationship between marijuana and sexual performance, notes Sharon Johnson, an epidemiologist at the University of Missouri St. Louis, who has also found associations between drug use and sexual problems.

Many of the correlations between marijuana and sexual performance became apparent only after accounting for other factors, such as age, tobacco and alcohol use and occupation. "Why does it appear that the more marijuana you use the more sex difficulties you have," Johnson asks. "There is a more complicated relationship out there somewhere."

Journal reference: Journal of Sexual Medicine, DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01453.

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