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Could weed be ruining your performance in the bedroom?
Contrary to the belief that marijuana increases your sexual ability and enjoyment, recent research suggests that smoking pot may make it more difficult for men to consistently achieve or maintain erections.
Sex researcher Dr. Justin Lehmiller, PhD, Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at Ball State University, says, “…research has found that the prevalence of erectile dysfunction is THREE TIMES AS HIGH for daily marijuana smokers compared to those who don’t use it at all.”
Marijuana, Your Penis, and Your Brain
Marijuana affects the brain's cannabinoid receptors, and one of the results is a "blunting" of the user's ability to experience pleasure.
Here's the thing—cannabinoid receptors are ALSO found in the penis. The pleasure-dampening effect may explain why marijuana users have higher rates of impotence.
In fact, the smooth muscle tissue where these receptors are found makes up 70%–80% of the penis.
Marijuana, Erectile Dysfunction, and Your Heart
But that isn’t all—a 2009 study conducted by the Mayo Clinic determined that men with erectile dysfunction are 80% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease in the future, compared to without ED.
In other words, ED is an excellent and proven predictor of future heart problems.
Dr. Martin Miner, with the Men’s Health Center in Providence, Rhode Island, says that this knowledge might mean that there is a “window of curability” when the progression of heart disease can be slowed or even stopped completely, with lifestyle changes and medical intervention.
One of those lifestyle changes might include cutting way back on the use of marijuana.
In 2016, the American Heart Association said that compared to non-users, regular marijuana smokers are TWICE AS LIKELY to experience stress cardiomyopathy, a sudden weakening of the heart muscle that compromises the heart’s ability to efficiently pump blood.
This can be extremely serious because people with stress cardiomyopathy have a TRIPLED risk of cardiac arrest and a QUADRUPLED risk of needing a defibrillator implant to control an abnormal heartbeat.
Immediately after that announcement, additional results from a study conducted by the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia were published. Among the findings was a link between marijuana use and a greater risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, and even sudden cardiac death.
Dr. Aditi Kalla said, “Even when we corrected for known risk factors, we still found a higher rate of both stroke and heart failure in these patients. So that leaves us to believe that there is something else going on besides just obesity or diet-related cardiovascular side effects.”
Busting the Myth of Sexual Stamina
There is a long-held notion that pot increases sexual stamina by allowing men to last longer in bed. Dr. Lehmiller quickly dismissed that misconception.
"...we cannot rule out the possibility that this drug simply alters men’s perception of time...sex might SEEM to last longer when you’re high, but the actual amount of time you spend having sex might not really be any different from when you’re sober.”
What Does All This Mean?
Since it does have some legitimate medical benefits, public support of continued marijuana decriminalization has largely increased in the United States. Unfortunately, however, there has not as of yet been adequate research into the long-term effects of regular or heavy marijuana use.
Because these and other studies show that weed isn’t exactly as harmless as supporters like to say, this information underscores how urgent the need for further research truly is.
As for individual pot users—the watchword seems to be MODERATION. Chronic use of the chronic may not be in your best interest.
In other words, if you want to protect your sexual and cardiovascular health, maybe it is time to put down the bong.