Study links smoking pot to having more sex

Also, the higher the use of marijuana, the more the increase in sexual activity, suggesting a possible active role that pot may play in enhancing sexual desire.

Regular marijuana users have about 20 percent more sex than abstainers, according to a new study from researchers at Stanford University. They assessed these individuals' self-reported patterns of marijuana use over the previous year and their self-reported frequency of heterosexual intercourse over the previous four weeks.

"Really, marijuana would need to be used shortly before or during sex to study its true sexual effects", Palamar told Live Science. Women who did report using marijuana in the past year reported that they'd had sex more frequently, an average of seven times in the previous month. It asked over 28,000 women and almost 23,000 men about how often they had sex in the four weeks before the survey and how frequently did they use marijuana in the previous year.

"Similarly, male daily marijuana users reported sexual frequency as 6.9 times on average in the previous four weeks compared with 5.6 times in non-users".

"The overall trend we saw applied to people of both sexes and all races, ages, education levels, income groups, and religions, every health status, whether they were married or single and whether or not they had kids", Eisenberg said. This bias is baked into the very names of the institutions that fund much of this research - it's why we have a National Institute on Drug Abuse, rather than a National Institute on Drug Use.

Seven states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Because the surveys didn't ask participants when they were using marijuana, it's hard to directly relate use of the drug to sexual activity and function based on this study, Palamar said. The only firm conclusion was that, for whatever reason, smoking daily led to an increase in sexual activity.

Given that the average couple has sex about once a week, Eisenberg said, the bottom line for partaking in a bong or blunt could add up to 20 more instances of sexual intercourse each year. "This would have helped control for any distorted perceptions of sex related to marijuana use".

On one hand, there are reports of erectile dysfunction in heavy users and some studies have found reduced sperm counts in men who smoke. "So over the course of a year, [marijuana users are] having sex maybe 20 more times", Eisenberg noted.

The survey is carried out on an annual basis and explicitly asks participants how many times they've had intercourse with a member of the opposite sex in the past four weeks and how frequently they've smoked marijuana over the past 12 months.

"I wouldn't counsel patients necessarily one way or the other based on this", Eisenberg said.

The findings of the study were published by Journal of Sexual Medicine this week.

  • Aubrey Nash