Marijuana Does Not Impact Male Sexual Performance

Marijuana or cannabis is one of the most widely used illegal drugs worldwide. There is speculation that excessive use of this drug may affect male sexual health. This review attempted to look into this issue by examining earlier published scientific evidence. It was found that there are few studies that examine the link between male sexual disorders and cannabis use. Some human studies have found that cannabis may enhance erectile function in males, but animal studies have shown that cannabis may have the opposite effect.

Studies have shown that nearly 4 percent of people all over the world use marijuana at least once a year and 0.6 percent take it regularly. Cannabis contains, among other chemicals, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  THC is a chemical that can depress or stimulate the brain and even cause hallucinations. Erection disorders (erectile dysfunction or ED) in men are common problems where attainment or maintenance of an erection is inadequate. ED may affect as many as 322 million males worldwide by 2025. While many causes for these disorders are unclear, psychological factors as well as drug abuse are cited to be some reasons for these disorders. With the rise of illegal drug use and the rise of the number of males suffering from erectile dysfunction, studies to explore a connection become important. This study attempted to find an association between cannabis use and male sexual disorders of erection.

For the purpose of this study, authors reviewed previous studies that explored the relationship between cannabis use and sexual health in males. “There are considerable data from animal and in vitro studies to support” the effects cannabis has on erectile function. “In vitro” studies are studies performed within the laboratory. Emerging scientific evidence was looked at regarding the effects of certain chemical roles in maintaining a penile erection. Finally the authors gathered trial results of cannabis consumption in human males.

Key findings
* Studies in vitro and on lab animals showed that cannabis may help enhance erections. However, authors speculate that there is a difference of response to cannabis between different species of animals.
* Human trials are few and they show that cannabis significantly increases sexual desires, but decreases capability of erection in men.
* From the collected information, authors feel that human trial results conflict with the lab and animal trials. Thus no concrete conclusions could be drawn.

Next steps/shortcomings
The authors write that most of the studies they analyzed were conducted before the 1970s and 1980s and there have hardly been any studies over the last 30 years. Also, the earlier studies are not consistent in their findings. These studies have used various measures to assess erection and not used standardized scoring to determine erection disorders, as is used today. Further studies to explore this link in detail are necessary, they write.

The authors conclude that, “Clinical studies examining the effects of cannabis use on male sexual function have been limited in both quality and quantity. Most results of these studies are conflicting and contradictory.” Thus, from this study it cannot be concluded that cannabis can harm or improve erectile function in males. Authors suggest that further studies that are validated and better designed can determine whether there is harm caused by cannabis on male sexual performance and also determine the extent of harm on the molecular level in the brain. With the rise of cannabis use and a possible relationship to erectile dysfunction, the authors recommend a “renewed use of research resources” to figure out what the effects of cannabis can have on male sexual health.

For More Information:
Impact of Cannabis Use on Male Sexual Health
Publication Journal: The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2010
By Rany Shamloul, MD; Anthony J. Bella, MD; University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada, and Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.