Can Marijuana Blunt Your Sexual Health?

OK, first of all, weed is not going to give you a bigger penis with superhero abilities.

It makes sense that it could have some kind of influence though. Science has shown that we have receptors distributed from our head to toes made to interact with our endocannabinoids, compounds similar to those found in cannabis. It is part of our chemistry, at a cellular level. 

We wanted to know more about how cannabis may affect men’s sexual health, so we asked The Fresh Toast Medical Director, Dr. Thomas Green, a board-certified urologist who has helped men be their best sexual selves for the past (nearly) 40 years. He pointed out that for young men, a common concern is erections:

When I evaluate men with impotency, I categorize the potential causes: circulatory, neurologic, hormonal and psychological. My experience is that there is commonly psychological overlay for medical erectile difficulties. In the younger age groups, there is a higher incidence of pure psychological impotence than the older age groups.

Let’s take a look at each of those.

Circulatory concerns

Some Canadian researchers chose to study marijuana and monkey erections. Really, they did. They discovered a negative effect in the smooth muscle tissue of the monkey penis. It seems that high doses of THC decreased the ability of the smooth muscle of the erectile body to contract and made erections less likely, while smaller doses showed no change. Thus, a super high monkey is not always a hard monkey. Point taken.

Neurological

We do know that being high can create the perception of shifted time or an ability to be lost in the moment. In one small Canadian study, half of respondents said cannabis was sex enhancing and delayed orgasm. We do not know if this was a true change or a difference in the perception of time. Two-thirds said it had a positive effect on their sexual desire. Others found it killed their love buzz.

Hormonal

Findings regarding how using cannabis affects testosterone vary widely and are rather inconclusive so far. Higher consumption rates of cannabis have been tied to lower testosterone levels. These levels seem to readjust as quickly as 24 hours after use is stopped or reduced. We do know that frequent users are leaner and less likely to be obese. Being fit can allow for a more active and even athletic sexual expression. That’s not bad.

Psychological

“It’s not about the body, it’s about the mind,” to quote the late, great musical genius Prince, who certainly knew a thing or two about sex. Performance anxiety can increase with an intense high. So, guys with an inconsistent erection may not want to smoke out before the big moment or they may risk getting too much in their head. On the other hand, cannabis can help make a good sexual experience a nearly mystical one, given the right balance.

As you may have gathered, none of this is absolutely resolved, not by scientific standards.

Being a good doctor, concerned for our general health and safety, Dr. Green left us with a bit of professional advice:

We have much to learn about the effect of cannabis on erections. Lower doses tend to reduce anxiety and higher doses tend to increase anxiety. If we look at the effects of anxiety on erections, it appears that anxiety can cause intermittent impotence. Therefore, on an anecdotal basis I would recommend moderation to increase the odds of erectile success.

Here is some fun homework if you are ready to take matters into your own hands. Find some time and privacy to enjoy some good, clean cannabis home alone and see how marijuana may affect your erection. If things go well, invite your partner to try a special, elevated experience. While we wait for additional data to answer these questions, you may have fun doing your own home-grown research. 

Note: Dr. Thomas Green writes the “Ask the Doctor” column for The Fresh Toast. If you have any medical questions, please send it to Dr. Green

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You Have The Highest THC Strain. So What?

THC is the intoxicating compound that made cannabis a rock star. It is still the sole consideration for some shoppers when picking a product in a retail store. Could it be that the use of poison by the federal government several decades ago is still helping shape this myopic shopping phenomenon?

In the late 1970s, the United States and Mexico tried to eradicate marijuana in the DEA’s war on drugs by using a deadly herbicide, paraquat. The chemical, known to cause damage to the esophagus, liver and kidneys and to be fatal if swallowed, was sprayed by helicopters and low flying airplanes onto suspected crops. The idea was to defoliate the fields the same way the toxic chemical had been used to defoliate jungles in Vietnam. It was a practice that was particularly dangerous in states like California where a significant amount of marijuana was being grown for medicinal use.

As a result, cannabis growing took up residence inside. There, safe from the government choppers and their poison, a quiet revolution took place. The more limited footprint of inside growing encouraged ingenuity and discovery. Growers, who now had feet instead of acres to work with, had to make the most of their harvest. Many began to breed for high THC content. This had the intention of providing more bang for the buck to consumers. Afterall, no one was working with lab tested product. A bag of weed was judged for its look, smell and especially how high it got you. That’s what kept people coming back for more.

That was decades ago. No one, except a few select researchers, were speaking about CBD or any of the other over 100 cannabinoids found in the plant. There was an explosion of hybrid strains as boutique growers experimented combining genetics. Hydroponics would also be employed like never before because of the yields it could produce if well maintained.

Evaluating cannabis based on THC may have once seemed necessary. The same cannot be said now. Today, enlightened consumers pay attention to other cannabinoids present like CBD, CBN, CBG and others. Cannabis users in the know also pay attention to the ratio of THC:CBD. Doing so can help them discover other strains with a similar profile and effect.

A quick look at the label will also tell a savvy shopper about terpenoid content. Terpenes are the aromatic molecules that give all plants, their fruits and flowers a distinctive smell. Terpenoids, as they are referred to in cured cannabis, are also valued for their own therapeutic value and ability to contribute to an overall entourage effect, or synergistic relationship.

Shopping for cannabis based solely on the fact that it is high THC is a rookie move. There is so much more to know. More importantly, there is a much wider variety of experience from which to choose. Demand helps shape a marketplace, and knowledge shapes values.

When customers begin to ask detailed questions about the cannabis producers, chemicals used in the process as well as sustainable growing and waste management techniques, the market is strengthened. Producers reevaluate their processes and retailers provide different products. Regulators are not the only ones helping shape this market.  A high cannabis consumer IQ has an effect on the market, a good one.

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