As laws around marijuana and hemp have begun to relax in the United States, CBD has become increasingly popular. It’s often advertised as a potential treatment for a plethora of medical conditions––including erectile dysfunction (ED).
As of now, the research on CBD for ED is lacking, and the best treatments for erectile dysfunction come in the form of prescription ED medications like Viagra® (sildenafil) and Cialis® (tadalafil).
But is it possible that CBD might be effective for ED too?
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is one of the chemical compounds found in cannabis plants such as hemp and marijuana. CBD is classified as a cannabinoid.
Contrary to common belief, CBD does not have any psychoactive effects and therefore will not create the sensation of being “high.” The high feeling associated with marijuana is the result of another cannabinoid called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly known as THC.
While both of these compounds are cannabinoids and are found in the same plants, they interact with the human body quite differently.
The fact that these compounds are so often confused may be why research into CBD is still lacking. THC is classified as a schedule 1 drug, and is therefore a controlled substance and illegal at the federal level. Many U.S. states have or are consider changing the way they regulate THC, however, with some making marijuana medically accessible and others making it accessible recreationally.
How Does CBD Affect The Body?
Throughout the body is a system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS works to balance and regulate a wide variety of processes, including immune response, metabolism and appetite, memory and learning, and several organ functions.
It’s still unclear exactly how CBD interacts with the ECS; however, it appears that CBD binds with cannabinoid receptors located throughout the central nervous system and various organs. By doing so, it can enhance or suppress physiological functions. CBD seems to be particularly beneficial in reducing pain, inflammation, and anxiety, along with acting as an anticonvulsant and anti-epileptic in the case of one FDA-approved drug, Epidiolex.
Can CBD Help Enhance Sex?
While scientists have found ECS receptors in the testicles and the brain, research has yet to definitively conclude if or how much CBD can impact sexual systems and performance.
On sex and CBD, one potential boost to sex could come from CBD helping to increase the body’s production of a chemical called anandamide, nicknamed “the bliss molecule.” Anandamide helps to release another chemical called oxytocin, nicknamed “the love hormone.” Oxytocin is linked to the warm and fuzzy feelings commonly associated with affection and bonding, hence the nickname.
It may also reduce stress and anxiety, which could help to improve sexual performance.
CBD may also lower levels of cortisol in the body. This stress hormone has a direct influence on testosterone levels. Typically, higher cortisol can lower testosterone, which is the primary male sex hormone and linked to sex drive.
One study on cannabis users determined that the substance helped to activate parts of the brain associated with sexual arousal, suggesting that cannabis may help boost sex drive. Other studies, however, suggest that marijuana use can result in a lowered sex drive.
With such mixed results, it's hard to say definitively how much, if any, CBD impacts sex or erectile function.
What Is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is when a man has difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection firm enough for penetrative sex. Due to the wide variety of causes, some men find it challenging to find the root cause of erectile dysfunction.
Some of the most common physical causes are related to the cardiovascular and circulatory systems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Psychological factors can also result in erectile dysfunction; stress, depression, anxiety, and even performance fears can all contribute to ED.
Fortunately, there are a few well-validated and widely used treatments available when it comes the physical issues contributing to erectile dysfunction. Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, all help to expand blood vessels and relax muscles in the penis. This helps to improve blood flow into the penis, which can help to sustain an erection. PDE5 inhibitors are effective for the majority of men who try them.
It should be noted that these oral medications still require adequate sexual stimulation and arousal to work. For those experiencing erectile dysfunction relating to psychological factors, ED meds might not be as effective. This is where alternatives that focus on improving mental health, which may include CBD, may be a reasonable option.
Can CBD Help With Erectile Dysfunction?
Marijuana strains with high CBD, as well as CBD alone in the form of CBD oils and alternatives, have long been used by cultures worldwide for various medicinal purposes, including erectile dysfunction.
Again, the effects of CBD have largely been untouched by thorough placebo-controlled research. What is known is that CBD can help to reduce blood pressure.
One of the most critical aspects of an erection is circulatory function. The stronger and more healthy the blood flow, the better erectile function will be as a result. The study that elucidated these blood pressure effects focused on the arteries that lead into the heart, and not on those located in the pelvic area or penis. That doesn’t mean that CBD won’t improve blood flow in these areas, just that it hasn’t been proven in a clinical study.
CBD may be more likely to help men that are experiencing erectile dysfunction as the result of a psychological issue as opposed to a physical one. Stress, anxiety, and depression are all closely associated with erectile dysfunction. Since we know that CBD can help to soothe anxiety, it may be able to help men experiencing performance anxiety or stress-related to sex. Another study concluded that CBD could be effective as a short term remedy for stress and depression in addition to anxiety.
What Are the Best Ways To Use CBD For Sex?
There is really no wrong way to use CBD, but there may be better options than others. It mostly depends on your intent and how much time you have before intimacy.
Some of the more popular methods for using CBD with sex include:
- Edibles. Whether it’s in the form of gummy candy, brownies, chocolate drops, or just a capsule, an edible form of CBD may help to relax the body and reduce anxiety. Plan ahead, as CBD comes in many forms and strengths, and it may take time before the body responds to its effects. While it may take more time before these effects are felt, edibles are often stronger than other forms of CBD.
- Massage Oil. A sensual massage is a great way to spice things up in the bedroom. Including CBD oil may have the added benefit of relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and helping to relax muscles. Relaxing and anticipating sex ahead of time is likely to help improve overall performance and pleasure.
- Lubricant. For use directly on the penis or with toys, CBD as a topical agent may help to open up the blood vessels (in either partner) and increase blood flow to the genitals. Along with a potential to strengthen erections for males, CBD may be able to help enhance the experience for female partners.
- Drops. This is more or less a daily method of delivery for regular doses of CBD; however, taking a few drops by mouth ahead of intimacy may help to reduce stress or anxiety.
What Are the Risks of Using CBD?
CBD is typically well tolerated among users; however, there are some potential side effects and the possibility of an allergic reaction. CBD side effects will depend on a few factors, such as dosage, how you're using it, and the method of delivery, but may include:
- Appetite loss
- Decrease in follicle stimulation
- Decrease in sperm production
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Upset stomach
While there are no clear and definitive conclusions about CBD helping erectile dysfunction, it does seem to have a positive impact on several systems that are connected to ED. Whether CBD leads to improved ED symptoms remains to be seen.
When it comes to erectile dysfunction, it’s tough to beat the effectiveness of PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra (sildenafil), which have been around for two decades and used by millions of men globally. Now they're easier than ever to access from telemedicine providers like Rex MD. Click here to get started with a free online consultation. If approved, medications are delivered right to your door in discreet packaging.