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Cannabis and Sex: New Study Focuses On Its Impact For Men

The study from British Columbia offers insights into why men use marijuana for sex, including maximizing pleasure, lowering inhibitions, and decreasing stress.

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A new study has found that men use cannabis to relax, lower anxiety, and increase pleasure. They also use cannabis to replace more potentially harmful drugs that they used in the past to achieve the same result.

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The study involved 41 sexual minority men between the ages of 15 and 30. The term sexual minority men refers to both cisgender and transgender adults. Researchers recruited them to participate in interviews about their use of substances during sex. During the interviews, many revealed that they use marijuana before engaging in sexual activity.

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The study's researchers wrote: “The study’s participants reported that they used cannabis to achieve certain physical and psychological effects, including maximizing pleasure and sociability with sex partners and decreasing anxiety and inhibitions.”

Cannabis as a “strategic resource” for sexual freedom

The study is among the first to focus exclusively on young cisgender and transgender, gay, bi, and sexual minority men. Researchers define sexual minorities as having any sexual orientation different from the majority of the population.

In the study, the participants indicated that many of the benefits of cannabis frequently discussed in other contexts also cross over into its use during sex. This included reducing symptoms of anxiety and managing pain. For example, study participants told researchers they use cannabis “to increase pleasurable physical sensations” and to “lower inhibitions and manage feelings of anxiety around sexual encounters.”

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Some also reported using cannabis to lower feelings of “shame.” This may come as a surprise to those who thought society had long ago moved past stigmatizing homosexuality. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the stigma still exists against “gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.”

“These attitudes can lead to rejection by friends and family, discriminatory acts and violence, and laws and policies with negative consequences,” the CDC reported. It can impact a person’s income, access to healthcare, and lead to poor mental health and coping skills.

Cannabis helps with stress and anxiety

Given those issues, it’s not surprising that the young sexual minority men in the study also reported that cannabis use helps them deal with the anxiety of meeting partners on dating apps. “Dating apps can shatter your self-esteem because we all look better in photos than we do in real life. So, there’s a lot of anxiety that comes with actually meeting the person (in real life), and you know, expectations,” one study participant said.

That’s another issue that weed, with its relaxing properties, has helped the men handle.

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Marijuana also provides sexual minority men an alternative to other drugs used in what is known as “chemsex,” which refers to using mood-altering drugs during sex. In general, these drugs—which can include significantly more dangerous substances—are used for all the reasons study participants gave for using marijuana, according to researchers.

They wrote that they want to do further research on how “cannabis may be able to reduce or replace more harmful drugs used with sex.” They point to studies that have shown that in other settings cannabis may be able to replace more addictive and potentially dangerous drugs.

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