The Beginner’s Guide to CBD and Sex: Libido, Orgasms and Hormones

Leo Aquino
July 14th, 2021 · 10 min read
Medically Verified
Can CBD Really Help Erectile Dysfunction, Menopause and Libido?
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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TAKE QUIZ

In this article

  1. So what is CBD?
  2. How does CBD work?
  3. What are the benefits of CBD?
  4. What are the effects of CBD on sex hormones?
  5. What are the sexual benefits of CBD for people with penises?
  6. What are the sexual benefits of CBD for people with vaginas?
  7. What are the sexual benefits of CBD for transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people?
  8. Does CBD improve orgasms?
  9. How does CBD help hormonal imbalances? Can CBD increase my sex drive?
  10. Does CBD have any side effects or drawbacks?
  11. Can I take CBD while breastfeeding?
  12. What CBD products should I try in the bedroom?

In Brief

  • Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive chemical compound derived from cannabis and hemp plants.
  • 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.
Example:

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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.
Regardless of terpene content, here are a few benefits of CBD:
  • It reduces levels of cortisol, the hormone released during stressful situations.
  • By reducing cortisol levels, CBD also reduces stress and anxiety.
  • CBD is a natural inflammation-zapper that reduces chronic pain.
  • It helps you sleep better by relaxing muscles altogether.
  • It improves brain function, especially short-term memory.
  • CBD balances hormones, which can alter your sex drive.

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What are the effects of CBD on sex hormones?

We run a clinical trial to measure the effects of CBD on sex hormones for women. The results showed a clear increase in Estrogen, Estradiol, Progesterone and Testosterone levels. In addition, CBD showed a drastic decrease on Cortisol, the primary stress hormone.
Participants started with a baseline reading of their sex drive levels before starting taking CBD gummies.
The tests were performed via at-home saliva lab tests that would measure all hormones related to sex drive levels.
Customer testimonial. Hormones really impacted for CBD and libido hormones
Customer Testimonial. Stress and libido effects with CBD gummies

What are the sexual benefits of CBD for people with penises?

CBD is great at increasing blood flow in people of all genders. The penis needs adequate blood flow to stay erect for longer periods during sex, so if you or your partner are having a hard time staying hard, CBD can help. According to Healthline, Ayurvedic practitioners have been using cannabis (both THC and CBD) to improve sexual performance for many years.
You may be wondering how to use CBD oil for erectile dysfunction. Most products that relieve ED and low sex drive in people assigned male at birth (AMAB) don’t require applying CBD on the penis directly. It’s more common to ingest CBD oil under the tongue, by eating an edible or smoking a CBD joint.
Besides the physical factors contributing to erectile dysfunction, low sex drive can come from common stressors: past due bills, heavy workload, managing your children’s hectic schedules, and more. Again, CBD isn’t a cure-all that will just magically make your penis erect on demand. But CBD can help you unwind quickly from your day’s normal stressors, and get in between the sheets with your boo.
Even though you’ve probably heard about the wonders of CBD from a friend, there are very few scientific studies that study the relationship between CBD and sex. Some studies have found that cannabinoids like CBD and THC can increase libido, while others have found that they decrease it. Some studies even associate THC with lowered sex drive in AMAB folks.

What are the sexual benefits of CBD for people with vaginas?

For people with vaginas, CBD also helps a process called vasodilation where blood vessels expand to allow more oxygenation into tense muscles. You might recognize these signs of good vasodilation while you’re aroused:
  • You start to blush.
  • You get very warm all over, sometimes to the point that you start sweating.
  • You might experience more sensitivity in your clitoris, which becomes erect when you’re aroused.
  • You get wet --- like, really wet.
Again, CBD didn’t invent vasodilation --- it’s just supporting processes that already occur naturally in the body. Any method of ingesting CBD, including edibles, inhalants (smoking) or topicals, can help improve vasodilation. But it’s important to pick products that work seamlessly with your sex life. Adding a few drops of CBD oil to a cocktail might make a huge difference in your sex life.
CBD also helps increase production of natural lubrication, plus it reduces inflammatory pain. This combination of benefits works wonders for people who experience dyspareunia or painful sex. Dyspareunia has many causes, sometimes obvious and other times completely baffling, but many people assigned female at birth (AFAB) have reported significantly less sexual pain after trying CBD suppositories, creams that can be inserted into the vaginal canal.
Again, CBD can help with low sex drive, but it may be helpful to address other environmental factors that are killing the mood. Stressors like miscommunication of sexual preferences with your partner, a jam-packed day of running your own business, or planning for an upcoming trip can leave you feeling dry, chafed and irritated. In a pinch, CBD gives the body’s natural function a healthy, all-natural boost.
What are the sexual benefits of CBD for transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people?
As we mentioned earlier, there are very few scientific studies that research the relationship between sex and CBD, and even less scientific studies that explore how CBD can serve transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming people.
In 2016, cannabis news and e-commerce platform Leafly interviewed transgender adult-film actor Buck Angel to discuss the ways that the gender-diverse community uses cannabis. Buck Angel shares, “I started using cannabis later in my transition so I have already dealt with much of my anxiety around transitioning. That said, I have many trans friends who do use cannabis to help with anxiety of being trans. It’s difficult for many trans people to just walk the world.”
Buck Angel is describing a condition called gender dysphoria, where one’s gender identity does not match up with the body that they were born with. Gender dysphoria can result in depression and anxiety. CBD can help with those symptoms by reducing overall physical pain while clearing brain fog.
In the gender-diverse community, folx may choose to undergo hormone replacement therapy (HRT), the injection or ingestion of estrogen and testosterone to develop bodily and facial features that match one’s gender identity. If you’re a gender-diverse person who is undergoing HRT, it’s important to pay attention to how your body feels after taking CBD. At the time of this writing, there are no research studies about CBD and hormone replacement therapy.

Does CBD improve orgasms?

A Healthline article about CBD and sex life  explains that an increase of blood flow to the genitals can result in higher sexual arousal and explosive orgasms for both partners. CBD also wakes every little nerve ending, making every lick, stroke and grind during sex feel even more intense.
Many people have credited CBD lube for their improved sex drive and more intense orgasms. Before going all the way, test the lube on a small area of the skin to make sure you don’t have any negative reactions to the lube.
To apply CBD lube on the vagina, you can:
  • Pour the lube directly from the bottle onto the clitoris and labia.
  • Pour the lube onto your palms, rub your hands together, then use your hands to apply the lube to the labia and clitoris.
  • Cover your fingers, penis or sex toys in lube then insert it in your partner’s vagina.
To apply CBD lube on the penis, you can:
  • Pour the lube directly on the penis before penetration, or before wearing a condom
  • Pour the lube onto your palms, rub your hands together, then use your hands to rub lube on your partner’s penis.
To apply CBD lube on the anus, you can:
  • Pour the lube directly onto the anus before penetration.
  • Pour the lube on your fingers, penis or sex toys then insert it into your partner’s anus.

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How does CBD help with hormonal imbalances? Can CBD increase my sex drive? 

CBD naturally lowers cortisol, stress hormones, in the body. It also regulates bloating, mood swings, menstrual pain and cramps for people with periods. Because CBD regulates the endocannabinoid system, it can help manage estrogen and progesterone levels during PMS, perimenopause and menopause. With those hormone levels in check, libido usually comes running back into the body at full speed.
CBD also increases levels of the neurotransmitter anandamide, which is closely related to oxytocin, the cuddle hormone. Anandamide can help increase feelings of emotional connection and intimacy with your partner after kissing, hugging, flirting, or having sex. 

Does CBD have side effects or drawbacks?

According to Healthline, CBD can affect fertility. CBD can decrease hormone levels that stimulate follicle production in people of all genders. For people with penises, CBD can decrease normal sperm count and reduce fertilization. CBD can also interfere with reproductive cycles such as ovulation.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to CBD or the different ingredients used to make oils, tinctures, edibles and topicals. A good rule of thumb --- especially with topicals --- is to start with a small dose or by testing a small section of skin to see how your body reacts, then gradually increasing your dose as you become more comfortable.

Can I take CBD while pregnant or breastfeeding?

The FDA recently issued a warning against CBD use while breastfeeding. CBD products may contain small traces of THC, which can be dangerous for babies. A study also shows that high amounts of CBD in pregnant test animals have caused issues in the development of fetuses.  

What CBD products should I try in the bedroom?

With all the sexplosive benefits of CBD, it’s worth keeping a few staples in your nightstand. Here are a few ways that you can ingest CBD, and some products worth checking out:
Edibles. This method of ingesting CBD can be slower because food has to travel through the esophagus down to the stomach before the stomach lining can absorb and activate CBD. That being said, slow absorption also means that you’ll feel the longest-lasting effects from edibles.
Here are a few great edibles to try:
Sublingual Oils and Tinctures. For faster effects, CBD oils can be placed under the tongue. CBD immediately enters the bloodstream through the blood vessels under the tongue. Some studies also show that saliva can break down the chemical structure of CBD, so adding a few drops under the tongue is a great way to avoid contact with the saliva. You can also add oils and tinctures to drinks like seltzer water, tea, and soda.
Here are a few sublingual oils and tinctures to try:
Topicals. The magical powers of CBD can also enter the body through the skin. CBD topicals are found in many different forms: lotions, massage oils, personal lubricants, bath bombs and bath salts, just to name a few. Lubricants and suppositories can help AFAB folks who need CBD oil for menopause, especially when conditions like vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy make activities like walking and sitting very uncomfortable.
Here are some lubes and suppositories for you to try:

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