But despite marijuana's growing status as a recreational drug, its status as a procreational drug remains ambiguous: On one hand, there are reports of erectile dysfunction in heavy users, and rigorous studies have found reduced sperm counts in men who smoke it; on the other hand, experiments conducted in animal models and humans indicate that marijuana stimulates activity in brain regions involved in sexual arousal and activity. But whether it's cause or effect isn't clear.
People who smoke more marijuana are having more sex than those who smoke less, or don't smoke at all, a new study suggests.
The results were clear: No matter the person's age, race, education level, income group, whether they were single or married, or whether they had kids, if they smoked marijuana, they reported having sex more frequently than non-marijuana smokers.
Those findings held true even after the researchers controlled for a number of demographic variables known to affect sex habits and marijuana use.
People who admit to using marijuana might be less inhibited about sex, they noted.
The researchers found that the women in the study who said they hadn't used marijuana in the past year reported that they'd had sex an average of six times in the previous month. The study, which analyzes data from 50,000 reproductive-aged Americans, is the first in the United States to examine the relationship between sex and marijuana use at population scale.
The survey is carried out on an annual basis and explicitly asks participants how many times they've had intercourse with a member of the opposite sex in the past four weeks and how frequently they've smoked marijuana over the past 12 months.
"It doesn't say if you smoke more marijuana, you'll have more sex", he cautioned.
"We were surprised to see the positive association between users", Eisenberg said.
More research is obviously needed, but this is a good step in the right direction to making people more informed about their health. Mitch Earleywine, a psychologist at the University at Albany who has studied weed and sex, said, "In some surveys, we saw that people [who used cannabis] did have sex more, but it seemed to be mediated by this personality type that's willing to try new things or look for thrills". There's no guarantee your sex life will improve if you start smoking pot. "Recent studies have shown cannabinoid receptors in the penis itself, and experiments in the lab show an inhibitory response", he says. The study also suggests the effect is dose-dependent: more frequent use was associated with more frequent sex.
There is another issue that may throw cold water on cannabis' potential as a love enabler.
He does, however, warn that the study shouldn't be misinterpreted as having a causal link. There's really only one conclusion he can safely draw from the work: Cannabis users are doing it more.