Wish you could add a little more wow to your sex life? You’re not alone. More than fifty percent of people are unsatisfied with their current sex lives, according to a survey commissioned by eharmony.
There’s a laundry list of factors that can negatively affect intimacy—and an equally long list of potential solutions. One trendy supplement on the list: CBD.
Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. While it won’t get you high (like THC, another compound found in the plant), it can support your sexual well-being.
Here are a few of CBD’s potential sexual health benefits.
*Since sexual health is complex, you may want to consider speaking with your healthcare provider or therapist before adding CBD to your repertoire.
1. Decreased Stress
For some folks, sex is the ultimately de-stressor. But for others (especially cisgender women), stress is the ultimate bedroom-block.
For example, women with high levels of chronic stress had lower levels of genital sexual arousal, compared to those with lower stress levels, found one 2014 Journal of Sexual Medicine study. A second study, published in Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, suggests that stress and mental health are the top factors that impact sexual orgasm.
There’s some rock-solid research behind the anecdotal evidence that CBD can help you de-stress. In fact, 2015 research published in Neurotherapeutics concluded that high amounts of CBD have significant benefits for those dealing with stress.
Try incorporating CBD into a comprehensive stress-reduction toolkit that includes practices like meditation, regular exercise, and yoga.
2. Reduced Muscle Tension
Beyond the mental and emotional impacts, the “fight or flight” mode stress creates can also increase heart rate, decrease circulation and digestion, and create muscle tension. “Stress causes our muscles to enter a contracted (as opposed to a relaxed) position—including the pelvic floor muscles,” explains Dr. Heather Jeffcoat, D.P.T., author of Sex Without Pain: A Self-Treatment Guide to the Sex Life You Deserve, who specializes in sexual dysfunction, pain, and incontinence.
The pelvic floor muscles, which keep the bladder, rectum, uterus, and colon in place, can hold tension just like other muscles in your body. (One study, for instance, found that stress can cause involuntary contractions of the urethra, which is part of the pelvic floor.) The more these muscles contract, the tighter and tenser they become, which can lead to painful sex, explains Dr. Jeffcoat.
Since it increases blood flow, CBD may help with muscle pain and tightness—including in the pelvic floor, Jeffcoat says. “An important aspect of pain-free and pleasurable penetration is to allow for voluntary muscle relaxation to the best of our abilities,” she says.
3. Improved Sleep Quality
Considering sex is a mild cardiovascular activity, there’s no doubt you’re less likely to get it on when you’re low on energy. In fact, one 2017 study published in the journal Sleep Science identified a correlation between decreased sleep quantity and decreased sexual frequency.
That’s not the only way sleep deprivation interferes with your sex life, though. A 2019 review published in The World Journal of Men’s Health showed that sleep disorders can contribute to sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction.
While various sexual dysfunctions can have many causes, CBD may be helpful when occasional poor sleep is the culprit. Research (like this 2019 The Permanente Journal review) has linked just one month of CBD supplementation with improved sleep quality in those with occasional sleeplessness.
4. Natural Lubrication
The most common cause of pain and discomfort during sex for vagina-owners is a lack of natural lubrication, says Jeffcoat. (This is especially true post-menopause.) Increasing blood flow to your genitals is an essential component in the arousal process and in improving natural lubrication.
Since CBD can support blood flow, it may be helpful when applied topically, she adds. If you’re interested in trying a CBD personal lubricant with an oil base, just remember that oil degrades latex. So, if condoms and dental dams are your protection methods of choice, use barriers made out of polyurethane, instead. (Or try this Moisturizing & Long-Lasting CBD Personal Lubricant from Uncle Bud’s, which contains 60 milligrams of CBD.)
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