The effects of marijuana on erectile dysfunction


Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the U.S. – and it is becoming increasingly less illicit, with medical marijuana now legal in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Like any other drug, it can have unanticipated side effects. Of special interest to men is the drug's link to erectile dysfunction.

Marijuana – composed of the seeds, stems, dried leaves and flowers of the hemp plant – contains a group of chemicals known as cannabinoids. The most famous of these, and the one that impacts your body the most, is THC. It is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana.

Cannabinoid receptors (only just discovered in the 1980s) can be found in the smooth muscle tissue of the penis, and it is through this route that THC can impair its function. This is one way that marijuana may lead to ED in men, but it is not the only path.

Marijuana makes you feel good, gets you “high,” in part because it increases the levels of dopamine in your system. Dopamine, often referred to as the “feel good” drug, is a neurotransmitter that is released naturally in your system. Its release in the brain is responsible, in part, for getting men “in the mood” for sex. If a man smokes too much weed and so becomes accustomed to the increased levels of dopamine that marijuana dumps into his system, he may discover that the natural levels of the chemical in his body releases are no longer sufficient to stimulate him sexually.

Just as circulatory issues generated by cigarette smoking can cause ED, so too can these affect marijuana smokers. Cannabis consumption can cause an increase in your blood pressure and heart rate, and both of these medical conditions – besides being a cause for general medical concern – can cause ED.

Marijuana users know that there is very often a “let down” after the high, and this drowsiness and slowed reaction time may also make it difficult for a man to obtain an erection

Those for whom medical marijuana is prescribed may be able to offset some of the drug's negative sexual performance side effects by consuming it differently. Marijuana that you smoke passes very quickly from your lungs into you bloodstream. If you eat or drink your weed, it will get into your system more gradually.

There are numerous, non-sexual side effects to marijuana, including addiction, and so the drug should never be used except under the supervision of a physician.


Sources: Medical News Today