Is Cannabis a Friend to the Flaccid or the Enemy of Erections?

Published on April 24, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020

A common question I get asked when talking about sex and cannabis is whether cannabis has an effect on erections. It's a somewhat common concern, but don't let it get inside your head (so to speak). The science around cannabis and erections is inconclusive at best, with one study suggesting the following finding:

“…frequency of cannabis use was unrelated to sexual problems in women but daily use vs. no use was associated with increased reporting among men of an inability to reach orgasm…reaching orgasm too quickly…and too slowly.”

The study concluded, “frequent cannabis use is associated with…difficulties in men's ability to orgasm as desired.” Interestingly, another study suggested that cannabis could be used to treat erectile difficulties in people with high cholesterol.

In short? The jury is still out, so your mileage may vary.

How Does Cannabis Affect Men and Women Differently?

Think Outside the Erection

Man's torso

As my friend and colleague Dr. Hernando Chaves points out, “Men typically view sex as goal-oriented, performance-driven, orgasm-centric, and erection focused.” Friendly reminder: not all penis owners identify as men, but the point remains. Many people with “outies” are socialized to believe that sex involves penetration of an erect penis into some sort of opening (mouth, vagina, or anus). This limiting belief can severely impact people’s ability to enjoy the sex they’re having because they get stuck trying to have the sex they see in porn or movies.

Our society places a great deal of emphasis on erections and attaches a lot of shame to difficulty achieving or maintaining one. If we let go of those narratives, it gives us permission to be present with the sexual space we’re creating. Exploring the body with toys, hands, fingers, and tongues, can allow us to see penises (and, more broadly, the genitals) as just another pleasurable place to explore, rather than focusing on them as the main event.

5 Fun Facts About Cannabis and Sex

Can Cannabis-Infused Lubricants Help Maintain Erections?

Foria cannabis lubricant in packaging

“Does Foria work for penises too?” someone inevitably asks whenever I talk about the mind-blowing effects of the THC-infused coconut oil spray. The answer, like most things, requires some nuance. Strictly speaking, Foria absorbs into mucous membranes–the kind of skin that’s found inside your mouth, in a vulva, or inside the rectum. However an oft-forgotten mucous membrane exists within the foreskin of uncircumcised or intact penises, which does make them susceptible to the sexually enhancing effects of the spray. For those who are circumcised, sadly you are out of luck for mucous-targeted topicals.

Is Cannabis Lube Better Than Mainstream Brands? We Put the Products to the Test

Tools, Tips, and Toys That Can Help When Things Go South (and Soft)

Cock ring

If you find yourself preoccupied with the erectile implications of cannabis, I suggest adding a cock ring to your sexual toolbox, like this one from Tantus. Cock rings are applied (with lube!) when the penis is flaccid. As the blood starts to flow in, the ring prevents it from flowing back out, facilitating an erection. Many seasoned cock ring users report that having blood concentrated in the area enhances sensation. (Pro tip: The cock ring should go around the shaft and behind the testicles, so that the scrotum and penis are both pulled through it. This ensures pressure is placed on the artery that allows blood to flow back out of the penis.)

You should also consider the merits of flaccid fun. Soft penises get a bad rap, and I’m tired of it. The shaft and scrotum are just as sensitive when not erect, and can be sucked, massaged, and teased to the delight of the recipient. Get some lube and rub it all over their bits, and just explore. Try putting the entire thing in your mouth, or cupping it in your hands and nuzzling it. Experiment with pressure and movement. Pull (gently!) and stretch the skin of the scrotum between your fingers. Take a vibrator like the We-Vibe Touch or Tango and rub it all over the shaft, over the frenulum (the super sensitive triangular area under the head of the penis where the foreskin connects), and behind the balls on the perineum. There are lots of things to do in that area that are entirely unrelated to penetration!

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Sex and Cannabis: Six Ways You Can Enhance Your Intimacy

If you're concerned about how cannabis may be affecting your bedroom performance, experiment with different strains and consumption methods. See which ones affect you in ways you like vs. experiences you’d rather avoid.

Remember, according to Dr. Emily Nagoski, “Penises are like puppies. They respond poorly to commands. They don’t understand. And the more aggressive you get with your commands, the more they’ll just cower and duck and wait for you to calm down. But boy are they glad to see you, as long as nothing is telling them NOT to be glad to see you.”

If you’ve always wanted a primer on penises, here’s a YouTube video I made with famed adult performer and sex educator Nina Hartley. Now go forth and experiment!

How Cannabis Can Take Your Sex Life to the Next Level

Got a sex, relationships, or intimacy dating question for Ashley Manta? Send it to and we may address your request in a future article! (Don't worry, we'll keep your queries anonymous.)

Image Source: Foria via Instagram

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Ashley Manta
Ashley Manta
Ashley is a writer, feminist, and sexuality educator. She is a contributing writer for Leafly.
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