All bodies deserve pleasure. That’s a sentiment most of us can support. So when your body experiences chronic pain or a disability with pain as a side effect, facilitating pleasure can be complicated.
Earlier this year, Lisa Rough highlighted some research which suggests that cannabis use can be an effective substitute for opiate pain relievers. She pointed out that “More than 1.5 billion people in the world and an estimated 116 million Americans regularly suffer from chronic pain.” Introducing cannabinoids into your sex life can help decrease pain and increase pleasure, whether you’re having solo or partnered sex.
I asked H.F.*, a woman who lives with chronic pain, how it has affected her sex life. “Chronic pain often makes me less interested in sex and it has made some sexual positions more difficult or uncomfortable for me. When I use cannabis, I find that I have much more interest in sex and respond more easily to touch. I’ve used a vaporizer (Pax) and Grape Ape and Blue Dream very successfully, though Grape Ape sometimes makes me more tired than I’d prefer. I also like using edibles as their effect lasts for a long time. Luckily, living in the Bay Area, I get lots of options in terms of flowers and edibles. I also look for products that are higher in CBD since my pain condition involves inflammation.”
Blending sex and cannabis with the intention of decreasing pain and increasing pleasure requires some forethought. Here are some ideas to help facilitate sexy times.
Use Cannabis as a Tool for Partnered Foreplay
Take topical CBD lotion or oil and encourage your partner to gently rub the areas where pain occurs. This could easily become a clothing-optional, full body massage. The CBD will help with pain, while the massage creates intimacy and encourages your sexual excitation system to come online.
Plan a Day of Decadence for Yourself
Have a soak in a hot bath (add Epsom salt for even more muscle relaxation!) and nibble on some edibles or tinctures. Light some candles, put on something that makes you feel sexy, and take time to appreciate your body.
Try New Positions
If certain positions are challenging, try new positions, or incorporate adaptive furniture like the Liberator Ramp or Wedge to provide ergonomic support (Erika Moen has a great review of the Ramp and Wedge on her awesome NSFW comic, Oh Joy Sex Toy.)
Bring in Some Outside Assistance
For those who experience muscle fatigue, try using a sex toy in conjunction with manual stimulation. If you’re looking for suggestions, one of my favorite sex toy stores, Good Vibrations, offers a shopping guide for people with disabilities on their website.
Don’t Forget Aftercare!
After sexy time, make time to check in with your partner(s) on how they’re feeling and what they need. Some people like to shower immediately after sexy time, while others prefer snuggles and reveling in the afterglow. This can be a great time to start a dialogue. Ask questions like, “How was that experience for you?” and “What would make it better next time?” Invite feedback and make space for any questions they might have. Spend some time checking in with yourself as well–did you have a good time?
Knowledge is power, so if you’re newly partnered with someone who lives with chronic pain and/or disability (or you just want to learn more), be sure to get a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability. It’s one of the definitive works on the subject. For more suggestions on specific strains that help with pain, check out What are the Best Cannabis Strains for Treating Pain by Bailey Rahn. You can also peruse Leafly’s list of arousing cannabis strains, or learn some fun facts about cannabis and sex.
*Name changed to preserve anonymity