CBD and libido: can CBD improve your sex life?
Thanks to its long list of wellbeing-boosting benefits, CBD is one of the most popular supplements on the market today. But can CBD help you have better sex?
It certainly looks that way! In a large survey by Remedy Review, 68% of people said that taking CBD improved their sexual experiences. Scientific research into CBD and sex is still in its early days, but the research we do have seems to agree.
In this article, we’ll explore several ways that CBD can improve your sex life, from getting you in the mood to solving your sexual issues. We’ll also take a look at the science behind these claims, starting with a quick explainer of how CBD works…
How does CBD work?
In the 1990s, scientists discovered that we have a large, complex system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It keeps the body in a state of balance, regulating everything from sleep, temperature, pain, appetite, and reproduction.
The ECS is controlled by a network of chemical messengers called endocannabinoids – that is, cannabinoids that are produced endogenously, or internally. They travel around the body, acting on receptors that tell the ECS to take action.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of many chemicals in the hemp plant. It’s extracted from the oil of the plant and used to make CBD consumables, like oils, capsules and creams. CBD is also a cannabinoid, and just like your own endocannabinoids, it can act on ECS receptors in your body.
Researchers have found large concentrations of ECS receptors in the reproductive organs. We’re not sure exactly how CBD interacts with those receptors yet, we just know that it does!
In the meantime, there’s lots of anecdotal evidence – and some scientific support -- for the benefits of CBD. In this next section, we’ll explain some of those benefits and what the research says so far.
CBD and libido
Your libido, or your sex drive, is your desire to have sex. Some people just have a naturally higher sex drive than others, but if you find that yours is lower than normal, CBD may be able to help get you back in the saddle, so to speak!
Anecdotally, lots of CBD fans claim that it gets them in the mood. The scientific evidence is a little thin; we know that cannabis activates the part of your brain that controls sexual arousal, but we don’t know if this is specifically because of CBD, or because of other chemicals like THC. Therefore, we can’t say for sure whether you’d get the same benefits from taking CBD alone.
One way CBD definitely can help your libido, though, is by relieving stress and anxiety. Sex can trigger lots of different worries around everything from body hang-ups to performance pressure to traumatic experiences. Your sex drive can also be affected by anxiety conditions like Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), or by worries outside of the bedroom, like work, illness, or money troubles.
Study after study after study shows that CBD can reduce anxiety. The US National Institute on Drug Abuse agrees, stating that CBD reduces the signs of anxiety and stress. This is most likely because it calms the central nervous system, specifically the parts responsible for emotional regulation.
CBD and pleasure
Not only could CBD get you in the mood for sex, it can potentially make it more enjoyable, too. CBD improves blood flow and nerve sensation, with some experts claiming that this makes for more pleasurable sex and better orgasms. The Remedy Review survey seems to back this up, with the majority of those who took CBD for sex reporting that their orgasms were more intense.
CBD is also proven to boost levels of a neurotransmitter called anandamide. Also called the “bliss molecule”, it works closely with a hormone called oxytocin to make sex feel rewarding and pleasurable. Oxytocin is also responsible for feelings of satisfaction and romantic attachment.
CBD as a lubricant
Some women experience dryness that can make sex uncomfortable or even painful. A lubricant can make sex easier and more enjoyable, and now many brands are adding CBD, too.
Of course, lube works just fine on its own, so why add CBD? The theory is that because it stimulates blood flow and improves sensation, it can also encourage the body to produce more of its own natural lubrication. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory, which might alleviate any discomfort.
CBD and erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is the medical term for difficulty either getting or maintaining an erection. The occasional failure to launch is usually nothing to worry about, but if it’s happening all the time and it’s interfering with your sex life, then CBD may be able to help.
The cannabis plant, from which CBD oils and other products are made, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to improve sexual performance and function. We’re not exactly sure how CBD helps, but we do know that it reduces blood pressure, improves circulation, and promotes blood flow to the genitals – all essential for getting and keeping an erection.
CBD and pain
For some people, sex is often associated with pain. That can come from sexual problems like vaginismus, where the muscles of the vagina involuntarily contract to prevent penetration, or dyspareunia, where a woman experiences pain during or after sex. It can also be related to painful gynaecological conditions, like endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or even general health problems. The pain often leads to anxiety around sex, which can make any difficulties even worse.
We already know that CBD relieves anxiety, which can help people feel more physically and mentally relaxed when it comes to sex. Relaxation is especially helpful for conditions like vaginismus and dyspareunia, as it can help resist the urge to tense up. There’s not much research into the topic, but anecdotally, lots of women report that taking CBD products like CBD oil, capsules, or using CBD topically in a lubricant, helps to ease their symptoms.
If you suffer from any condition that causes you pain, sexual or otherwise, it can have a significant impact on your sex drive and your enjoyment of sex. Thanks to CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects, lots of people report that it helps them to manage chronic pain. And unlike some of CBD’s sexual benefits, we have lots of research on pain to support the anecdotal evidence.
How to use CBD for sex
There are lots of ways to use CBD for sex. To improve libido, relieve anxiety, or promote a feeling of relaxation, go for CBD oils, capsules or edibles, like CBD gummies. For dryness or pain, choose a topical CBD lubricant. And if you want to set the mood or incorporate CBD into the main event itself, try one of the many CBD massage oils on the market.
Remember that it takes a little time for CBD to take effect. Vaping is the quickest as it goes into the bloodstream directly from the lungs. Oils and tinctures are not far behind; they’re absorbed via the blood vessels under your tongue and take around 30 minutes to kick in. Capsules and edibles have to go through your digestive system, and topicals have to be absorbed through your skin, so all of these methods take a little longer.
All that to say: you’ll get best results if you use your CBD of choice at least 30 minutes before you hit the bedroom. Obviously it’s not always possible (or particularly sexy) to plan ahead for sex, and it’s not exactly practical to lube up an hour in advance! So you might want to think about, for example, taking a few drops of CBD oil an hour before and then using a CBD lubricant in the moment. If you do mix products, though, be careful to pay attention to your overall dose.
How much CBD should I take?
Whether you choose capsules, creams or oils, the dosage per serving will be listed clearly on the packaging. If you’ve never used CBD before, around 10-20mg is a good starting dose. Wait at least a few hours to see how it affects you, and if you feel comfortable, then stick with that dose or increase it slightly.
Keep working your way up slowly like this until you achieve the desired effects. If you start to feel any uncomfortable side effects, drop back down to the last comfortable dose and stick with it.
Is CBD safe for sex?
Yes, for most people. We’re not aware of any serious side effects from CBD, although it can interfere with some medications. If you’re taking medication and/or you have an existing health condition, it’s best to check with your doctor first.
Topical CBD products like creams and massage oils often contain other ingredients, like moisturisers or plant extracts. These can cause skin reactions for some people, so if you have sensitive skin or if you suffer from allergies, check the label carefully.
Lubricants are usually designed with intimate skin in mind, but again, check the label to make sure there are no irritants, allergens, or unnecessary ingredients. Generally, the fewer ingredients you’re putting down there, the better!
A word of caution: because CBD is still being studied, experts aren’t entirely sure how it affects fertility. Anecdotally, it seems to be safe, but we just don’t have the scientific evidence yet to say for sure. If you’re trying for a baby, or you’re considering it in the near future, it’s wise to speak to your doctor before using CBD.