Sex and Marijuana

green cannabis plant close-up photography

Sex and drugs are often spoken of together when discussing the taboo acts of many adolescents. Many people experiment with both sex and drugs, sometimes at the same time. Marijuana is a commonly used drug that is often used in conjunction with sex. Marijuana can have a varied impact on the brain, body, health, sex, and relationships of every individual.

Marijuana Overview

person holding paper on kush
Marijuana which comes in the form dried leaves, flowers, stems and seeds. The Marijuana plant is often referred to as the hemp plant. The fibers of the hemp plant are used for clothes, rope, and paper. The active ingredients of the hemp plant are the cannabinoids which contains chemicals that are used as the psychoactive drug people refer to commonly as Marijuana. The cannabinoids can slightly vary from plant to plant. Two popular breeds of cannabinoids in plants are cannabis sativa or cannabis indica. These plants grow in warm climates throughout the world. Marijuana is referred to by many names, some of which include cannabis, weed, pot, dope, ganja, dank, and herb. The psychoactive drug is used for various medical and recreational reasons. Variation in drug preparation and storage can greatly affect its level of potency. Marijuana can contain up to several hundred active chemicals. Of these many chemicals, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the one credited as having the greatest effect on the user.1

smoking cigarette

There are many different methods of consuming and feeling the effects of marijuana. Most people who use cannabis grind up the dried leaves of the plant and smoke it by way of joint, pipe, bong, vaporizer. The active chemicals in marijuana can also be consumed through an edible. An edible is any form of food that is infused with the extracted chemicals from marijuana. The increasing popularity of marijuana amongst those in the United States has brought about many creative ways to intake the drug. THC extract, a concentrated form of the active chemical that can be smoked or added to various foods and drinks, has become another admired and highly effective form of marijuana consumption.1 Along with the many ways to smoke marijuana, there are also many variations in plant breed. Two of the most notable types are Indica and Sativa.2


Strains, or varied forms, of cannabis that are of the indica breed are known to cause a stronger “body-high.” Users describe this high as more of a “full-body sensation” with a “couch-lock” effect, like having no desire to move from the comfortable position on the couch.2


Strains of cannabis that are of the sativa breed are known to cause a more “uplifting and cerebral high” and are seen as “energizing and stimulating” to users. 2

Many users report that indica affects their body and sativa affects their mind, which are both explained in further detail below. There are also many hybrid strains of cannabis that incorporate both the effects of indica and sativa.2

Effects on the Brain

smiling woman photo
When a person smokes or ingests marijuana, THC and other active chemicals from the drug are absorbed through the lungs or stomach, and into the bloodstream. These chemicals are then carried to the brain and other organs throughout the body. The chemicals in marijuana mimic natural chemicals that are produced in the body. As a result, they activate certain brain cell receptors that release excess chemicals such as dopamine, which triggers a “high.” There are both appealing and adverse mental effects that accompany the use of marijuana.1 Marijuana can produce a variety of stimulant, depressant, and hallucinogenic effects.

Short-Term Effects

After consumed or ingested, during the “high”, some marijuana users report having altered senses such as sight and hearing. Some users report seeing brighter colors and heightened pleasure from listening to music. Others experience elevated feelings of happiness, relaxation, anxiety relief, creativity and euphoria.1 Other users report short term effects such as an altered sense of time, difficulty thinking and problem solving, impaired memory, lack of motivation, depression, anxiety, and paranoia.3

Long-Term Effects

Although marijuana is seen as minimally addictive, it can have lasting long-term effects on a developing brain.

man using glass smoking device

The active chemicals in marijuana affect brain cell receptors, which are tissues or molecules in the body that respond to chemicals in the body. These receptors and their responses play a large part in brain development.Some users that begin using marijuana as teenagers may find themselves struggling with clear thinking, memory, and learning functions in the long run.1 The short-term effects of marijuana on motivation can extend into the futures of many users if their lack of motivation leads to laziness and ultimately affects academic and career success.1 Using marijuana at exceptionally high potencies for long periods of time is associated with much higher risks. High levels of THC can cause panic attacks, similar to those produced by hallucinogenic drugs, and exposure to THC may trigger psychotic episodes in those who are already predisposed to a particular mental illness, such as schizophrenia.1 On the other hand, some users with ailing anxiety or conditions involving frequent seizures have found that the use of marijuana is calming and stabilizing in the long term.4

Effects on the Body

Similar to the mental effects, there are both appealing and adverse physical effects that accompany the use of marijuana.

Short-Term Effects

Close-Up Photo Of Person's Eye

The “high” produced by marijuana causes physical changes such as reddening of the eyes, fast heartbeat, increased blood pressure, dry mouth, dizziness, and increased appetite. Marijuana users also report a calming sensation, relief from pain, “feathery” feelings of relaxation throughout the body, increased sensitivity, and other potential remedies to physical ailments.1

Long-Term Effects

Continued use of marijuana can lead to poorer physical health as a result of the short-term effects, including lack of motivation and increased appetite. Despite its high intoxication potential, marijuana has a low dependency (or addictive) potential and low risk of organ damage or death.  There are also indications that habitual marijuana smoking may lead to the same dangers that are associated with chronic tobacco smoking, such as lung disease or lung cancer.1 However, some studies show that the effects of marijuana on the lungs are less harmful than those of continued tobacco use, and many find it a safer alternative to cigarettes.4

The medical use of marijuana is becoming increasingly popular due to its effects, which many see as controversial.Doctors have found that the effects of marijuana helped patients manage diseases such as glaucoma, cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and more.4 However, researchers also found that the uprising trend of marijuana use and recent legalization in some states of the Unites States have led to more frequent car accidents.3 The overall costs and benefits that the effects of marijuana can have on each individual varies.

Effects on Sexuality

two woman wearing brassieres
For many people, part of the appeal of marijuana is its rumored aphrodisiac-like qualities. THC can elevate mood and arousal, as well as stimulate sexual activity. While this may be the case for many cannabis users, not all people who use this drug have such a positive reaction. Despite the fact that this substance has the ability to enhance mood and reduce inhibitions, much in the way that alcohol does, it may also have some undesired effects on a person’s libido. While some users feel that it greatly increases their sexual desire, others experience the opposite effect. Many report having a substantially decreased sexual drive when “stoned” or “high.” Further, it can be difficult to arouse people under the influence. Many marijuana users find that they fall somewhere in between these two extremes; that is, they are sometimes aroused and other times disappointed with marijuana’s sexual side effects.5

Effect on Sex

Users and their partners also experience a variety of reactions to using marijuana during intercourse. Some claim that it fosters a greater bond between partners, stating that marijuana facilitates a more beautiful, open connection. However, some partners find that under the influence of cannabis they tend to lose focus or internalize their thoughts; as a result, they tend to emotionally distance their partners instead of bring them closer. One reason that some people may report a heightened sense of sexuality is that marijuana often distorts users’ sense of time, thus creating the illusion of prolonged arousal and orgasm. Furthermore, some studies suggest that there is an association of marijuana use with increased rates of high risk sexual behavior and sexually transmitted infections. This is due to marijuana’s ability to decrease inhibitions and make users less likely to use protection during intercourse. When using marijuana, consent for sexual activity may become unclear. Consent is seen a clear and enthusiastic “yes” and is especially important when drugs/intoxication are involved. It is advised to take precaution and use protection, such as a condom, when engaging in any sexual activity and establish a clear and comfortable form of communication when using marijuana or any drug.5

Effect on Relationships

two person holding papercut heart

As mentioned above, marijuana has the ability to bring people closer together or farther apart, both physically and emotionally. The use of marijuana should be discussed openly and honestly between partners. Communication is essential for the health of every relationship. If one is concerned that their partner is experiencing negative effects from marijuana, it is best that they communicate their concerns in a considerate manner. Each partner should come to a common understanding about the role that marijuana plays in their relationship and how it affects each partner in the relationship.1 For tips on communicating with your partner, check out this article on “Effective Communication.”

Effects on Fertility and Pregnancy

Marijuana has the ability to affect both male and female fertility. However, since the drug is outlawed by most societies around the world, research on the effects of cannabis have been limited. However, there have been some studies conducted that produced noteworthy correlations between marijuana use and its impact on fertility as well as fetal development.

A study conducted in 2015 by the Oxford University Press found that smoking marijuana more than once a week might lower a male’s sperm count by nearly a third.6 Specifically, the men who smoked marijuana more than once a week produced sperm counts that were 28% lower, on average, than those who smoked marijuana less frequently or not at all.
pregnan woman

Furthermore, the research suggests that while it is still unclear as to why males’ sperm count decreases, it is possible that this decrease can be contributed to the THC interacting, and subsequently disrupting, certain receptors in the testes.7 However, the researchers refrain from making the conclusion that the reduction in sperm count is solely due to the use of marijuana. They suggest that there may be other behavioral and lifestyle factors that can affect sperm count and hormonal levels, which in turn may decrease fertility.

In 2003, a study from the University of Buffalo found that smoking marijuana could make sperm less fertile, even if the female is the one who is using the drug. When females smoke marijuana, their reproductive fluids or vaginal secretions may contain the chemicals from cannabis. The research suggests that when a female smokes or ingests marijuana, the THC is then present in the vagina, oviduct, and the uterus. Even if a male has not smoked but the female has, his sperm may enter her body, come in contact with the THC in her system, and subsequently be altered by the THC/sperm interaction.8

The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute of the University of Washington suggests that marijuana use by females may affect their fertility by disrupting their menstrual cycle, which may result in fewer eggs being released. Furthermore, they conclude that THC has the ability to cross through the placental barrier and secrete into the breast milk of nursing mothers.9 Therefore, it is suggested that any pregnant or breastfeeding mother refrain from using marijuana. Furthermore, research shows that there may be major effects on the development and maturation of the fetal brain if a female uses marijuana during pregnancy. While these findings are not conclusive, they do point out the risks of using marijuana and its impact on both male and female fertility.9

person making cannabis joint

The use of marijuana and its effects on the mind, body, sex, relationships, and health are unique to every individual. While some claim that marijuana has a positive effect on their lives, others feel as though it affects their lives negatively. It is recommended that you discuss marijuana use with your doctor before experimenting with it. They may have insight as to how it will affect you and your body based on your medical history. SexInfo Online does not endorse the use of illegal drugs but promotes safety during the use or experimentation of any substance.


  1. Johnston, L. “Marijuana.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). N.p., n.d. Web. Mar. 2016.
  2. “Strain Types: Sativa vs Indica vs Hybrid.” Green Doctor Network. N.p., 22 May 2015. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.
  3. “9 Side Effects of Marijuana.” Leaf Science. N.p., 24 Apr. 2016. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
  4. Welsh, Jennifer, and Kevin Loria. “23 Health Benefits Of Marijuana.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 20 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
  5. “The Pros and Cons of Combining Cannabis and Sex.” MERRY JANE. N.p., 03 Aug. 2016. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.
  6. Gundersen, Tina D. et. al. (2015). Association Between Use of Marijuana and Male Reproductive Hormones and Semen Quality: A Study Among 1,215 Healthy Young Men. American Journal of Epidemiology: Vol. 182, No. 6
  7. Boxe, Agata. “Marijuana May Lower Your Sperm Counts Quite A Lot.” Live Science. N.p., 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 19 May 2016.
  8. Borreli, Lizette. “Your Pot Or Your Sperm Count? You Can Have One, But Not The Other.” Medical Daily. N.p., 02 Sept. 2015. Web. 19 May 2016.
  9. “Marijuana, Reproduction, and Pregnancy.” Learn About Marijuana. University of Washington, n.d. Web. 19 May 2016.

Last Updated: 8 February 2017.