CBD is popping up everywhere—in lattes, baked goods, make up. If you want it, you can get it. So it’s no surprise that it’s made its way under the sheets.
CBD is making an impact in the sex industry and is being utilised by people who struggle with pain, or who simply want to enhance their sexual experience.
Clinical sexologist Lena Queen, M.Ed, LCSW explains that CBD can improve mentality as well as arousal. “CBD has been shown to decrease the intensity of stress, discomfort, and pain (physical and emotional),” says Queen.
“This will allow folx to slow their thoughts, stay connected to their body, [be] present in the moment, and possibly create a more pleasurable sexual experience.” Queen says that “CBD is a great tool for sex,” and it seems like a lot of people are agreeing with her.
How CBD can help enhance sex
It’s very common to experience anxiety before, or during, a sexual encounter. Whether you get anxious about how you look naked, or how good you are in bed, sooner or later we’ve all been there.
But the more anxiety someone feels during sex, the more painful it may be, and vice versa. It can be a cyclical experience that can result in PTSD and vaginismus after long periods of time. Basically, anxiety is a huge cockblock.
Luckily, research shows that CBD’s anxiolytic effect can help manage anxiety. “Since CBD decreases both physical pain and the intensity of the emotional pain, it is a wonderful option for those struggling and as a result of painful intercourse,” says Queen.
CBD interacts with your Endocannabinoid System, which plays a crucial role in several body functions that impact sexual experiences, including pain, sensation, motivation and reward.
CBD has also been shown to improve mood by stimulating a neurotransmitter called anandamide (Ānanda is literally Sanskrit for "bliss" or "happiness"), and mediating the production of oxytocin (aka the “love hormone”), a chemical your body releases when you cuddle or bond socially.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine even found that endocannabinoids were released following masturbation in both male and female subjects.
CBD can also help with the physical aspects of sex. As a vasodilator, CBD increases blood flow to the genitals when applied locally (for example, in the form of lube).
Vasodilation is a critical part of your body’s sexual response cycle—when you’re turned on, blood rushes to the vulva and swells up the labia and clitoris, also helping your vagina expand, elongate and self-lubricate.
CBD’s vasodilator properties may enhance this process. Not surprising, since transdermal application of CBD has been shown to have one of the highest bioavailability. And let’s not forget that the vaginal canal has one of the highest concentrations of cannabinoid receptors in the human body.
Aside from aiding arousal, CBD may also be able to help with pain caused by a chronic condition or sexual dysfunction.
Nicole Guappone, 29, first tried CBD lube almost a year ago after being diagnosed with hypertonic pelvic floor. “I was a huge skeptic when I tried it—I really didn’t expect it to do much. But I was so surprised when I found that not only did it ease my pain, but it actually enhanced my pleasure.”
Although CBD helps Guappone’s pelvic floor muscles relax, it takes approximately 15 to 20 minutes to begin to work its magic. “If I don't apply it ahead of time, I can actually feel penetrative sex get progressively more pleasurable after about that much time,” she explains.
“CBD-infused lube is meant to be applied 25 minutes before stimulation begins so the cannabinoids have time to absorb into the mucous membranes of the vulva and vagina, where non-infused lube is meant to be applied in real time,” explains Ashley Manta, a sex coach based in California and founder of CannaSexual®, a lifestyle brand that combine sex and cannabis.
Although Guappone recommends CBD lube for sexual play, she says it “definitely isn’t a cure-all, but is an amazing addition to my treatment plan.”
How to incorporate CBD into your sex life
Queen recommends making your own lube with coconut and a CBD oil mixture, but remember that oil is not compatible with latex condoms!
Queen also suggests experimenting with CBD edibles or tincture to practice mindfulness sex. “Mindfulness sex allows you to pay attention to your senses and how your senses are impacting your body. [It] incorporates deep breathing while paying attention to your body. With a CBD tincture, mindfulness sex may allow you to reframe negative thoughts that cause anxiety or reduce physical pain during penetrative sex.”
Queen also recommends that people check in with their medical provider before using CBD, as it may interfere with other medications. So double check before you experiment!
Since CBD may act as an anti-inflammatory, the muscles can relax and blood flow is increased, creating a luxurious sexual experience. Start with a small amount and then increase as time goes on (either in your sexual session or day-to-day).
If you want to start out slow, wear some CBD infused body oil, introduce CBD massage oil into the bedroom (a massage makes for great foreplay), and work your way up to CBD-infused lube. There are a multitude of ways to experiment with the property in order to find something that sticks, and satisfies.