The Beginner’s Guide to CBD and Sex: Libido, Orgasms and Hormones
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, seems to be the coolest thing since sliced bread. Because of the nationwide legalization of hemp-derived CBD, brands old and new have been coming out of the woodwork with CBD-infused skincare, body oils, tinctures, edibles, suppositories, drinks and more.
In the sexual wellness industry, CBD has been touted as a magical cure-all product that can improve your sex life exponentially. In reality, CBD is only a supporting actor that contributes to holistic sexual wellness. Nonetheless, CBD still deserves that Oscar for all the ways that it can support your sexual health.
If you’ve always been curious whether or not to keep CBD products on your nightstand, here’s the 411. (Spoiler alert: CBD is “fetch,” as Gretchen Weiners would say.)
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In this article
CBD works with the endocannabinoid system to reduce inflammatory pain, improve brain function, lower cortisol levels and relieve muscle tension.
For people with vaginas, CBD’s sexual benefits include increased lubrication, heightened arousal, and pain relief for those who experience painful sex.
For people with penises, CBD may help with erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow, allowing the penis to stay erect for longer.
Ready to boost your sex drive?
Take our quiz to build a bespoke testing plan that will help you boost your libido.
So what is CBD?
CBD is derived from the controversial plant Cannabis sativa. As many of us learned from that first high school party bong rip, different strains of cannabis can induce a relaxed high, courtesy of CBD’s naughty cousin Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the psychoactive chemical compound that locks you to your couch to count pink hallucinatory clouds when you smoke weed.
A common question when people pick up CBD products: Will this get me high? The answer is no. CBD products derived from cannabis plants may contain a small amount of THC, but usually not enough to get you high. A small percentage of THC won’t affect you, plus it’s the ratio between THC and CBD in a product that really matters.
CBD counteracts the loopy high that THC gives you. So if a product had a 250mg of CBD and 250mg of THC (a 1:1 ratio), the psychoactive effects of THC are kept in check by that amount of CBD — all while still giving you the pain-relieving, muscle-relaxing, anxiety-relieving effects of both cannabinoids. Most CBD products contain amounts of CBD that vastly outweigh the minimal THC content.
You’ll also want to look out for CBD that’s derived from hemp instead of cannabis. Hemp naturally contains little to no traces of THC, meaning it won’t get you high at all. In most states, CBD is legal as long as it’s derived from hemp. Each state has different product testing requirements, which you can find on Leafly’s State-by-State CBD Guide.
How does CBD work?
CBD and THC are both cannabinoids that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Think of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) as a traffic system that regulates homeostasis. Inside the ECS, there are receptors, enzymes and naturally occurring endocannabinoids that act as traffic signals or stop signs to facilitate neural communication between the brain and the body.
Naturally occurring endocannabinoids affect the body’s energy balance, appetite stimulation, blood pressure, memory, learning and pain receptivity. When we’re stressed, depressed or anxious, a few traffic signals in the ECS might be out of order, causing energy crashes, appetite imbalance, high blood pressure, brain fog and inflammatory pain. When CBD enters the body, it mimics the naturally occurring endocannabinoids and swoops in to get those traffic signals working at their normal — or sometimes, even faster — pace.
What are the benefits of CBD?
The benefits of CBD products are generally determined by the terpenes the brand uses for flavor. Terpenes are the chemical compounds in plants that give it its smell and flavor. The terpene limonene, for example, is naturally found in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. Combined with a CBD oil, limonene gives the body an uplifting, energizing effect.
CBD for Sex: Can Hemp Oil Boost Libido and Arousal?
Proper blood flow, low stress levels, balanced hormones, and pain relief are associated with better sex life. Experts say disturbances in the said areas can deteriorate our performance in bed and our overall satisfaction from sex.
Interestingly, CBD can balance all of the above.
CBD is a wonderful compound, and while some products may be over the top — think CBD-infused tampons — traditional products like CBD oil and topicals can have a positive effect on a person’s well-being.
Maybe you even have some CBD stocked in your health cabinet as you’re reading this post.
There are also products marketed specifically for the purpose of including one’s sex life, including CBD lubes, creams, and gels formulated for this purpose.
Does Bud do anecdotal evidence from people who have successfully used CBD to improve their sex life find support in scientific research?
Are there any studies that could back the claims of 68% of people for whom CBD products have made the difference?
Let’s dive deeper into this!
How Does CBD Affect Libido?
CBD’s positive effect on a person’s libido stems from its interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is the major regulatory network in humans that consists of two types of receptors and naturally produced neurotransmitters known as endocannabinoids.
The prefix ‘endo’ means ‘from within,’ meaning your body releases cannabinoids on its own.
These cannabinoids are very similar in their chemical structure to their plant-based counterparts.
CBD is one of the 115 identified cannabinoids in cannabis. When it enters the body, it interacts with the cannabinoid receptors of the ECS, producing a wide range of health benefits — including relief from inflammation, pain, convulsions, sleep deprivation, and anxiety on top of many others.
The mechanism of action is similar to a key and lock, where CBD acts as the key that unlocks the cannabinoid receptors — although it doesn’t do it directly.
Studies have repeatedly mentioned CBD as a potent vasodilator, anti-inflammatory, and pain killer.
For example, a 2009 study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences discovered cannabinoid receptors in testicles. The same type of receptors appears in the brain (1).
However, when it comes to libido, studies have yielded contradictory results. Some of them have found that CBD and THC increase sex drive, whereas others have claimed the opposite.
In an article from the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics, the authors have recorded lower libido levels in chronic cannabis users. The frequency of use correlated with the decrease in sex drive. However, the study looked at THC and CBD, not CBD alone (2).
Other studies support the theory that CBD-rich products may improve libido by relieving stress and anxiety. Some people are anxious about engaging in intimate scenarios, which may impair their sex drive and establish an insular attitude toward sex. The desire for sex may get elevated once the anxious thoughts stop bothering you.
According to a review of current research into CBD and anxiety published in the journal Neurotherapeutics, CBD has remarkable anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects and may reduce anxiety-related disorders (3). However, more trials are needed to determine the effective dosage range for anxiety conditions.
However, the majority of evidence about CBD improving sex life comes from anecdotal reports. Since we lack more quality studies, it’s difficult to make claims in that regard.
CBD and Other Sexual Benefits
As we said, there aren’t many studies on CBD and sexual benefits, but the demand for CBD oil, as well as anecdotal evidence from users about the effectiveness of CBD for sex, has resulted in a surge of products aimed at improving people’s sex life.
Here are the potential benefits of CBD aside from boosting libido.
CBD Oil for Erectile Dysfunction
In an article published in the journal BioMed Research International, the authors have stated that Ayurveda practitioners have practiced cannabis therapies for many years to ease erectile dysfunction and enhance performance in bed (4).
According to one theory, CBD could help dilate blood vessels and improve blood circulation, resulting in better erection and a longer duration of sex.
However, this theory needs to be clinically tested before doctors can start ruling out any recommendations.
CBD Oil and Sex Drive
Some evidence points to CBD as a potential stimulant for sexual desire. According to this theory, cannabis can directly increase it in the brain by activating sexual arousal. This could mean that CBD-rich cannabis extracts might be helpful for people with low libido.
Another way CBD can boost sex drive is through
CBD and Testosterone Levels
CBD could potentially balance hormone levels, including testosterone, which would translate into better sex life. The endocannabinoid system has its receptors in reproductive organs, including testicles. Therefore, its signaling with CBD can regulate organ function and performance of different systems, such as testosterone production in testicles.
The relationship between the endocannabinoid system and reproductive health is a vivid one, so it’s safe to assume that CBD and sex go hand in hand. As CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, studies have shown that CBD could possibly help to boost fertility since those endocannabinoid receptors have been found on female reproductive organs. Last but not least, CBD helps improve the body’s response to stress; successful stress management has been linked to the recalibration of hormones.
What Are the Best Forms of CBD to Use for Sex?
CBD is available in many different forms, including CBD oil, capsules, edibles, vapes, and topicals. More recently, CBD companies have started to produce CBD infusions aimed specifically at improving sex life.
Below we briefly cover each form of CBD — and how to use it for sex.
CBD Oil for Sex
CBD oil is the most popular form of CBD available for sale. It comes in dark, glass bottles, with a dropper attached to them for precise dosing. CBD oil is taken under the tongue, where it absorbs into the bloodstream through hundreds of tiny vessels located in the mouth. Given this, the effects of CBD oil usually take hold relatively fast, up to 30 minutes, lasting for about 4–6 hours. CBD oil is the best way to improve sex life if you’re exposed to high levels of stress daily, and want to relax before sex.
If you don’t like the taste of CBD oil, you can choose an oral form, such as capsules or edibles. Not only do they provide a premeasured dose per serving, but they also ensure the longest lasting effects — up to 10 hours. The only concern about oral forms of CBD is their low bioavailability (20% at best) and slower onset. Since the CBD has to pass through the digestive system, the effects may take hold within 40–90 minutes.
The fastest and most efficient way (56% bioavailability) to deliver CBD into your body is through vaping. CBD vape pens are small devices filled with a mix of CBD oil and thinners such as vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, or MCT from coconut oil. The effects of vaporization kick in typically within 5–10 minutes after inhalation, lasting up to 4 hours.
CBD Topicals for Sex
You can use CBD topicals for sex to relieve physical localized discomfort and tension, including headaches. They work well in combination with CBD oil because they provide a different approach to the problem. Topical administration causes the CBD to interact with cannabinoid receptors in the skin. From there, cannabidiol can produce its relaxing, painkilling, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Another way to use CBD topicals is to include a CBD lotion or massage oil in your foreplay routine. The relaxing effects of CBD can help you set the right gears in motion to stimulate sexual pleasure. Unlike most commercially available topicals, high-quality CBD lotions and massage oils are formulated with natural ingredients, some of which may even enhance the benefits of CBD for sex.
CBD Lube for Sex
CBD lube is one of the latest innovations on the market. The idea behind CBD lubes is to leverage the product’s effectiveness thanks to the moisturizing properties of CBD. You can use CBD lube before sex to reduce dryness and enhance pleasure.
How to Use CBD for Sex
To sum up, you can use CBD oil to improve sex life in the following areas:
- Before sex: take CBD oil, capsules, or edibles before sex to promote relaxation. You can use these forms of CBD for general supplementation and improve your body’s response to stress.
- During foreplay: use a CBD lotion or massage oil to make the foreplay more enjoyable
- During sex: apply CBD lube to reduce dryness and enhance pleasure
- Shortly before sex:vape CBD oil to reduce anxiety and improve sensation
CBD Dosage for Sex
Generally speaking, there is no one-size-fits-all CBD dosage for sex. If you want to determine the optimal amount of CBD for you, there are several factors that are worth consideration.
These factors include:
- Your body weight
- Unique body chemistry
- Tolerance levels
- The sensitivity of the endocannabinoid system
- Desired effects
When you take CBD oil for the first time, it’s best to start with low doses, such as 5–10 mg, and wait until after the CBD has reached its peak before increasing the dose. As mentioned, it takes about 4 hours for CBD oil to reach peak effects.
When it comes to CBD lubes and other topicals, they go by the same token. There is no better way — at least right now — to figure out your optimal dose of CBD than to go through some trial and error first.
Once you’ve reached the dose that makes you feel better, lock in at it and stick to it. Studies say people don’t build a tolerance to CBD. There’s even a phenomenon known as “reverse tolerance,” where users take less CBD over time as a result of improved well-being.
Final Thoughts on CBD and Sex Life
Truth to be told, there hasn’t been a lot of research done in the area of cannabinoids and sex life. Scientific evidence supporting CBD’s efficacy for erectile dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, and other issues related to poor sex life, are in its infancy, so it will take some time before researchers can draw definitive conclusions.
For now, we may assume — based on preclinical evidence and anecdotal reports — that CBD can help improve a person’s sex life by reducing anxiety, improving blood circulation, relieving pain, and modulating the activity of hormonal glands. However, there is still much more research to be conducted on the subject of CBD and sex.
For now, we can’t help but encourage you to experiment with your heart out with different types of CBD products!
- Fasano, Silvia et al. “The endocannabinoid system: an ancient signaling involved in the control of male fertility.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences vol. 1163 (2009): 112-24. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04437.x
- du Plessis, Stefan S et al. “Marijuana, phytocannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system, and male fertility.” Journal of assisted reproduction and genetics vol. 32,11 (2015): 1575-88. doi:10.1007/s10815-015-0553-8
- Blessing, Esther M et al. “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.” Neurotherapeutics: the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics vol. 12,4 (2015): 825-36. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
- Chauhan, Nagendra Singh et al. “A review on plants used for the improvement of sexual performance and virility.” BioMed research international vol. 2014 (2014): 868062. doi:10.1155/2014/868062
Livvy is a registered nurse (RN) and board-certified nurse midwife (CNM) in the state of New Jersey. After giving birth to her newborn daughter, Livvy stepped down from her full-time position at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey. This gave her the opportunity to spend more time writing articles on all topics related to pregnancy and prenatal care.
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What I didn’t know about CBD + sex (but I’m so glad I do now)
Just like caffeine can be the elixir that helps you start your day, CBD can be the one that helps you finish it.
By Anne-Marie Gambelin Updated October 5, 2021
We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You’ve got this.
You probably don’t need Valentine’s Day as a reason for romance, but sometimes the anticipation can be more akin to dread than thrall. Maybe life is clipping along and you are fine, but oftentimes that just is not the case, and the fallout can be stress that affects not only your daily life, but your nightly one, too.
So sometimes coordinating your head, heart and body just might need a little help. And just like caffeine can be the elixir that helps you start your day, CBD can be the one that helps you finish it.
What is CBD?
The marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa, has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. The two most prevalent and commonly known cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These active compounds are known to exert powerful anti-inflammatory, immune response, psychoactive and pain relieving effects through the activation of cannabinoid receptors found throughout your body.
How does CBD work?
Your body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that produces its own cannabinoid substances that bind to tiny receptors found in your central nervous system and other peripheral tissues, including your sexual reproductive organs, switching them on or off to regulate a variety of functions including sleep, appetite, pain, inflammation and immune response. Both CBD and THC are chemically similar to your body’s endocannabinoids. This allows them to interact with your cannabinoid receptors to effectively enhance these systemic functions.
Will CBD make me high?
No. CBD and THC can both bind to the receptors in your brain, but they operate in opposite ways. In general, THC activates these receptors, causing the euphoria associated with marijuana, and CBD blocks any intoxicating impact caused by the receptors, so you don’t get high. And even though CBD doesn’t produce psychoactive effects, research has indicated it may boost your mood by enhancing your own endorphin-like neurotransmitter, anandamide, and the love hormone, oxytocin.
Why use CBD in the bedroom?
How is CBD good for sex?
There are many cannabinoid receptors in your reproductive organs and sexual tissues. When ingested, CBD can enhance your nightlife by reducing anxiety that can be distracting and inflammation that can cause discomfort, allowing you to focus on pleasure. When applied topically, CBD also can help relax blood vessels to increase blood flow to your sexy bits to enhance arousal, sensitivity and lubrication. While not fully understood, if you struggle with dryness and painful sex, using a lubricant that contains CBD can improve sexual performance and relieve pain.
So whether it is stress, anxiety, dryness or discomfort that stands in the way of a randy romp in the hay, CBD is uniquely capable of addressing each and every concern that amounts to your sexual wellness. And by relaxing muscles, easing tension and managing pain, it could be a game-changer for you postpartum.
Want to know what the best CBD products are for getting your groove on? Check out our top picks below!
1. Best CBD tincture: Deep Roots Full Spectrum CBD Tincture Berry 1000 Mg
If body aches or anxiety are getting in the way of enjoying your time between the sheets, a few drops of CBD can help you unwind. (Just give it an hour or so to really take effect.) The Deep Roots Full Spectrum CBD Tincture from Healthy Roots Hemp are a favorite not only for their efficacy but are also the most palatable we’ve tried. If you’re not a fan of the earthy tasting cannabis, these have a very subtle berry flavor and go down incredibly smooth.
2. Best CBD Gummies: Equilibria Daily Gummies
Female-founded Equilibria offers a wide array of CBD products along with educational support to help you determine your perfect dose—like with a real, actual human. (Each purchase includes a complimentary appointment to answer all your questions and build a routine that works!) CBD, like any supplement, only works if you keep taking it, so the best CBD is one you’ll want to take. That’s the brilliance of these delicious daily gummies. The pineapple dragonfruit flavor is delightfully candy-like which personally ensures I’ll never miss a dose.
3. Best CBD Vape Pen: Foria Intimacy Botanical Vape Pen with CBD
Once we got our hands on this crazy-waitlisted vape from Foria, it didn’t take long to understand the hype. Elegant, luxurious and oh-so-relaxing, just a few pulls puts you in the perfect state for a connected and intimate session. The blend of ultra-pure botanicals and CBD is smooth and even tasty, with notes of peppermint and ginger, delivering an almost instant (like 15 minutes instant) full body experience.
4. Best CBD oil for arousal: Awaken Arousal Oil with CBD
If you want a little something to spice things up, Foria Awaken Arousal Oil with CBD is the nightstand superhero you should know about. The plant-based topical oil is designed especially for people with vulvas to enhance the pleasure of sex—whether solo or with your partner.
Just drip a few silky drops on all the places that count and wait about 20 minutes for it to get to work. The unique blend of broad-spectrum CBD and organic MCT coconut oil is mixed with warming infusions of cinnamon, ginger and essential oils to increase sensation and excitement. And don’t worry! It’s not overly tingly like other arousal topicals can be. It’s got that familiar, relaxing CBD feel that helps guide you toward a more euphoric session. NBD.
5. Best luxury CBD bath salts: Lord Jones High CBD Bath Salts
Admittedly, this is the bougiest pick on the list, but we have reasons. 1. It’s actually divine in its scent, performance and presentation, making your regular epsom salts feel very sad by comparison. With the addition of CBD, pink Himalayan sea salt, arnica for pain relief and calendula to soothe and heal, it’s a powerhouse for relaxation. 2. The luxe feel just begs you to take this dose of self-care seriously. Treat yourself to a full-on, door closed bath and you might be in the mood faster than you’d think. (Or ready to crawl into bed unbothered. That’s fine too.)
6. Best CBD Oil for Orgasms: Privy Peach CBD Infused Intimate Oil
When a friend uses the phrase “mind-blowing orgasm,” well, we listen. The individually packaged CBD intimate oil from Privy Peach works fast to rev things up. As a surprise to, well, exactly no one, the brand’s CEO and founder is a woman who clearly knows what works. The magic blend of ultra-filtered virgin coconut oil with nano emulsified broad-spectrum CBD is solid at first but emulsifies when applied topically to help increase sensitivity and even aid in lubrication. What are you waiting for?
7. Best CBD Oil-Based Lube: Foria Wellness Intimacy Sex Oil with CBD
CBD or no CBD, this lube would still make the top of our list for lube recommendations. The CBD is just an added perk on top of the long (enough) lasting and non-sticky performance that is as enjoyable as it gets. That said, the CBD lends an added layer of relaxation and sensation that can’t be overlooked.
Editor’s note: If you’re considering having a baby, talk with your doctor about the risks of using CBD products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against the use of cannabidiol (CBD) in any form during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.
Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel.