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What marijuana does to your sex life

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As marijuana legalization spreads and stigma recedes, older narratives claiming that copulation and cannabis don’t mix are falling by the wayside. Today, marijuana lube products fill internet storefronts, and there’s no end to claims that weed enhances sex, despite research that draws far more nuanced conclusions. Though it’s unclear whether cannabis goods really make sex better, bigger-picture studies suggest that the combination of sex and marijuana will have major implications for demographics and public policy.

The advice that marijuana will help with sexual issues is the opposite of what people once believed, says Michael Eisenberg, a urologist at Stanford University. The common hypothesis was that marijuana would lead to poorer sexual function, and some studies do suggest that marijuana can disrupt the menstrual cycle, lower sperm quality, or make it harder to reach orgasm.

But there are plenty of testimonials from people who swear that cannabis lubricant prolongs orgasm and cannabis tampons will relieve period pain. “For many of the lubes, is it more hype or more true response?” asks gynecologist Melanie Bone. “The only way to know is to study it.” However, we have very few studies because it’s notoriously difficult to do research using marijuana. (For what it’s worth, weed lube creator Foria Pleasure is currently recruiting and paying for a study examining whether its suppository reduces period cramps.)

We don’t know who or under what circumstances these products might help, and even if they do work, it might be unclear why. For example, many weed lubes contain coconut oil, so how do we know that it’s cannabis and not the coconut oil that’s effective? Does using marijuana as lubricant really make it more effective than consuming it directly? The potential negative side effects are also unclear.

Bone, who frequently prescribes medical marijuana to women who have low libidos, anxiety, or difficulty orgasming, says that the sexual effect of marijuana can vary greatly. “It’s not like the more, the better,” she says. “Maybe some amount will relax you and make you more open to sensations and less inhibited with your body, but if you get super stoned, you’re not going to be able to concentrate.” Some of her patients have said that suppositories or weed lubricants are great; others say that they’re far too intense.

Though no hard evidence supports the sex-enhancing claims of these products, other research does suggest that marijuana, in general, can lead to more time in the sack. Eisenberg became interested in the link between marijuana and sex after male patients started asking whether cannabis would “affect function down there.” For a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine last year, he analyzed data from the National Survey of Family Growth, covering nearly 60,000 people, and found that people who consumed marijuana tended to have more sex. For example, women who consumed marijuana weekly had 34 percent more sex than those who didn’t; the number was 22 percent more for men.

Eisenberg acknowledges that the data is self-reported, which makes it less reliable. It’s also possible that the people who smoke marijuana are also the people who simply have more sex to begin with. “Still, the interesting thing about the study is that we also were able to look at all different demographic groups, based on race and ethnicity, marital status, and education level,” Eisenberg says. “And across all groups, you saw the same relationship, so it’s not like this association is being driven by one particular group.”

New research from Michele Baggio, an economist at the University of Connecticut, finds an even more striking pattern. For a working paper, recently posted to the National Bureau of Economic Research, Baggio, along with co-authors Alberto Chong and David Simon, analyzed three different datasets. They concluded that passing medical marijuana laws led to higher birthrates. Specifically, it increased the birthrate by approximately four births per quarter for every 10,000 women of childbearing age.

First, they found that when medical marijuana laws pass, it leads to more people smoking marijuana, including recreationally. Next, it turns out that consuming marijuana encourages riskier sexual practices, like buying and using fewer condoms, which leads to more births. This doesn’t mean that the medical hypothesis — that marijuana can cause sexual issues — is false. More likely, this is a case when behavior trumps biology. “While medical literature points to a possible negative effect of marijuana, this does not take into account how people behave and how that could shape the actual behavior of people,” Baggio says.

So even though marijuana probably makes it harder to ejaculate and makes it harder for sperm to reach the egg, those birthrate-lowering effects are negated by fewer people using protection while they’re high. (Other studies have found the same link between consuming marijuana and not using contraception.) It’s important to do this research so we know the potential unintended consequences as marijuana legalization spreads, Baggio says.

We need more research on the product claims of marijuana. But, even more importantly, we need studies like the ones that focus on birthrates or the one from last year that suggests that marijuana might lead to more aggression with romantic partners, at least in young couples. While scientists already have a head start at tracking down the side effects of marijuana products in people, side effects in populations remain more of a mystery.

The Problem With Invasive Plants

When invasive plants like ivy or clematis dominate the groundcover, there is very little root structure to bind the soils. That’s why large areas dominated by invasive plants are more likely to erode during flood events than areas with a diverse understory of trees and shrubs, which provide more root structure diversity.

Native plant roots extend deep into the soil, and many species have wide, branching fibrous root structures that bind the soils and reduce erosion. Erosion releases sediment to streams, increases stream turbidity, and impairs water quality.

Invasive plants provide less streamside cover and shade, which increases stream temperatures. Invasive plants, such as Japanese knotweed or Himalayan blackberry, form monocultures (areas entirely dominated by one species) next to streams, which prevent tree establishment.


Habitat loss and invasive plants are the leading cause of native biodiversity loss. Invasive plant species spread quickly and can displace native plants, prevent native plant growth, and create monocultures. A healthy plant community has a variety of herbs, shrubs, and trees. Invasive plants cause biological pollution by reducing plant species diversity. Changes in plant community diversity reduce the quality and quantity of fish and wildlife habitat.

Fish and Wildlife Habitat

Invasive plants are a leading cause of declines in native plant and animal numbers, and are a factor in Endangered Species Act listings. Invasive plants outcompete and displace native plants that many native wildlife species depend on for food and cover. For example, the Fender’s blue butterfly depends on Kincaid’s lupine as a host plant for the butterfly larvae. Fender’s blue butterfly is listed as endangered and Kincaid’s lupine is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act due to habitat loss, changes in land use, and habitat encroachment by invasive species such as Himalayan blackberry and tall oatgrass.

A variety of food and cover fosters more animal species and larger populations. In addition to displacing native species, invasive plant monocultures and simplified habitat often provide habitat for non-native wildlife. Non-native song sparrows, for example, often nest in Himalayan blackberry patches. Non-native wildlife species can also displace similar native species because of overlap in habitat needs.

Tree Cover

Invasive plants can reduce the amount of tree cover by preventing trees from becoming established, causing them to fall down prematurely, or reducing their growth rate. A Harvard University study showed that garlic mustard reduces soil fungi and inhibits the establishment of tree seedlings.

Dense cover by Himalayan blackberry can prevent sunlight from reaching seedlings or saplings. Dense ivy or clematis in the tree canopy can weight down trees making them more susceptible to blow downs and decreasing their growth rates by shading the leaves.

Fire Risk

Monocultures of invasive plants create fuel for wildlfires. Ivy or clematis vines climb trees and can become a conduit for fire to reach the tree canopy, where it is more difficult to control and more likely to threaten nearby structures.

Invasive species monocultures can increase the frequency of wildfires. Cheatgrass, for example, is an annual grass that grows in early spring. By summer, cheatgrass is dry and ecosystems dominated by cheatgrass are more likely to catch fire.


Invasive plants aren’t just a Portland problem. There are regional, state and federal efforts to combat invasive vegetation. The Oregon Invasive Species Council estimates that invasive plants cost the U.S. economy $120 billion dollars annually in lost crop and livestock production, control efforts, property value damage, and reduced export potential.

These costs are passed on to consumers through higher prices for agricultural products. For example, money a farmer spends for star thistle control in pastures is reflected in the price of your steak. The Oregon Department of Agriculture estimates that 21 invasive plant species in Oregon reduce personal income by $83 million per year.

Increasing efforts to prevent and control invasions is the most cost effective and ecologically successful approach. The U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessment reports that a dollar spent on early weed control prevents $17 spent in future control efforts. If early intervention is not implemented and a species becomes widespread, eradication may not be feasible so the damages are permanent and money is still spent to control the future spread and contain the population.

More Information About Invasive Plants

Click on these links to learn more about invasive plants.

Get Involved

The following organizations host volunteer work parties to remove invasive plants and restore native vegetation to natural areas.

Technical Assistance

For technical assistance with invasive plant removal and installing native plants:

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