(CN) – Calling into question stereotypes about cannabis use and sexual desire and performance, a new study finds that frequent marijuana users have more sex than nonusers – about 20 percent more sex, in fact.
The findings, published Friday in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, are based on an analysis of results from the National Survey of Family Growth, which asks respondents questions such as how many times they’ve had sex in the past four weeks and how often they’ve smoked marijuana over the past year.
Data on more than 50,000 Americans ages 25 to 45 were examined.
“Frequent marijuana use doesn’t seem to impair sexual motivation or performance. If anything, it’s associated with increased coital frequency,” said senior author Michael Eisenberg, an assistant professor of urology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The study is the first to evaluate the relationship between cannabis use and frequency of sex at the national level in the United States.
“Marijuana use is very common, but its large-scale use and association with sexual frequency hasn’t been studied much in a scientific way,” Eisenberg said.
Currently, more than 20 million adult Americans use marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The drug has been legalized for medical or recreational use in 29 states, and 64 percent of respondents to Gallup’s latest poll support cannabis legalization – the largest share of the population in the polling service’s nearly 50 years of work on the question.
Despite marijuana’s growing acceptance within American society, however, its effects on sexual desire and performance remain unclear.
There are reports of erectile dysfunction in men who regularly use cannabis, and previous studies have found reduced sperm counts in pot smokers.
On the other hand, experiments on both animals and humans have shown that the drug also stimulates activity in the parts of the brain involved in sex and sexual arousal.
For the study, the team included data on 28,176 women and 22,943 men. The average age of the women studied was 29.9 years old, while the average man studied was 29.5.
In all, 24.5 percent of men and 14.5 percent of women reported having used cannabis, and the data show a positive correlation between frequency of marijuana consumption and frequency of sex.
Women who did not use cannabis within the past year reported that they had sex six times, on average, over the previous four weeks. Meanwhile, women who consumed marijuana daily reported an average of 7.1 sexual episodes over the same period. Among men, nonusers had sex an average of 5.6 times, while daily users reported 6.9 sexual encounters.
These figures translate to about 20 percent more sex for frequent marijuana users.
This trend was not seen in respondents who use other drugs. According to Eisenberg, that finding suggests that the positive association between marijuana consumption and frequency of sex does not simply reflect a general tendency among less-inhibited individuals, who may be more likely to use drugs, to also have more sex.
While the findings fall short of confirming a causal link, according to the researchers, the connection between cannabis and sex applied to all demographics.
“The overall trend we saw applied to people of both sexes and all races, ages, education levels, income groups and religions, every health status, whether they were married or single and whether or not they had kids,” said Eisenberg.