“For women, sex starts in the mind,” says sexologist Renée Lanctot. “That often means finding a way to disconnect from their day before connecting with their partner.” This won’t come as a shock to most women. In my experience, if I’m not in the right headspace to begin with, no amount of lingerie or The Weeknd is going to get me there. So how do we stop the day’s highlight reel playing in our mind and surrender to the moment?
Lanctot acknowledges that whether their thing is slipping into a pastel lace teddy or role-playing in a dominatrix outfit, most people know what’s going to spice things up in the bedroom. “However, even if they have all the information, implementing it is the challenge,” she explains. With the recent legalization of marijuana in Canada, Lanctot says she’s happy to be able to suggest a new tool women can use to help them let go of the day’s stress and get in the mood.
The use of cannabis as an aphrodisiac can be traced back to antiquity. In India, it has been used medicinally as well as in tantric-sex rituals for thousands of years. It was most often combined with milk, honey and crushed nuts and consumed as a drink. Modern science is finally catching up to this ancient knowledge, and I won’t be surprised if the elixir pops up on my local juice bar’s menu soon. A recent study by researchers at Stanford University found that people who smoke weed have sex much more often than non-users. While this study only indicates frequency—and not cause and effect—other studies show that marijuana’s stress-relieving, mood-elevating effects on the brain may create a more pleasurable sexual experience.
“The cannabinoid CBD has an anxiety-reducing effect by activating serotonin receptors in the brain,” says Josh Kaplan, an assistant professor of behavioural neuroscience at Western Washington University. This could explain why taking a toke during foreplay can help women get out of their heads and into the moment. While CBD has stress-relieving effects, the cannabinoid THC has been shown to have a mood-boosting or euphoric effect. “THC increases the sensitivity of your senses,” explains Kaplan. “If you’re gearing up for sex and you’re aroused by scents, whether that’s candles or the fragrance of your partner, those scents are going to be more intense, which can elevate the experience.”
“CBD-rich products are probably best for releasing stress and setting the mood, whereas THC-rich products are better suited to arousal and enhancing the sensory experience.”
THC also contributes to the release of dopamine—the body’s natural feel-good chemical—in the brain. Because of dopamine’s role in what Kaplan calls “reward expectation and prediction,” our body naturally starts to release it in advance of sex as well as during a sexual experience. When this process is coupled with dopamine-enhancing THC, says Kaplan, people are likely to have a stronger or more profound sexual experience. “CBD-rich products are probably best for releasing stress and setting the mood, whereas THC-rich products are better suited to arousal and enhancing the sensory experience,” he says, adding that estrogen can also increase the potency of THC, which explains why it might have a stronger aphrodisiac effect on women.
Sex coach and writer Gigi Engle says that smoking weed enhances the sense of intimacy and pleasure she experiences during sex. “I feel everything much more intensely,” she says. “I can feel all my nerve endings. My orgasms are more intense and last longer. At least, I perceive it that way.” Choosing from the plethora of new aphrodisiac cannabis products on the market—from dosist’s dose-controlled Passion and Arouse vape pens to Foria’s cannabis-infused Pleasure oil to edibles like weed-infused High Love chocolate from 1906—Engle says she prefers smoking or vaping. This could be because when you consume an edible, the THC gets metabolized into a metabolite of THC, which is much stronger than the THC itself and can have a heavy sedative effect. “If you get too high, you’ll feel sedated and turn inward to your own thoughts; this will hinder the sexual experience,” explains Kaplan.
“Some women are apprehensive about trying cannabis because they’re afraid of losing control, which is why dose-controlled formulas are great,” says Lanctot. “What women need to do when they’re in the bedroom is ‘fall back into their body,’ and pot can allow them to do that by making them more sensorial.” She also suggests other exercises that allow women to get in touch with their physical, sensory experience of the world. “Notice things in your environment that you find beautiful, or wear clothes that make you feel sexy,” she says. “For instance, if you have a silk camisole, notice the sensation of your nipples against the fabric as you go about your day. Or if you’re cooking, touch the herbs you use and take time to smell your hands after,” she suggests. “Give yourself permission to feel relaxed and sexual.”
“Some women are apprehensive about trying cannabis because they’re afraid of losing control, which is why dose-controlled formulas are great.”
Discovering new erogenous zones can be a fun, titillating way to get in the mood with a partner. “There are so many erogenous zones on the body in addition to the genitalia, and creating an erotic map of the body can help you rediscover or learn more about your partner,” explains Lanctot. To create an erotic map, Lanctot suggests making it into a game, using an ice cube or a feather to touch certain parts of each other’s bodies and noting on a legend whether it turns you and your partner on or not. The goal is for you to discover what excites your partner but most importantly to let you get in touch with what sparks desire in your own mind.
“Seduction begins with you seducing yourself,” notes Engle. “If you feel turned on by yourself and connected to your sexuality, that’s going to be a huge turn-on for your partner, too.” Engle urges women to prioritize self-care and pleasuring themselves. “Give yourself an hour, take a bath and try using a cannabis-infused bath oil or a rose-infused bath bomb and a submergible vibrator like Squish from Unbound,” says Engle. “Best bath you’ll ever have in your life.”
Whether it’s by smoking weed or indulging in an erotic bath, feeling sexy is the key to being sexual. “Historically, we’ve had such a patriarchal view of female sexuality, but we now have a much more liberal perspective,” notes Engle. “Female sexuality is in vogue now, and we have given ourselves permission to own it.” It’s high time.
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