Passing the joint may not be a marijuana thing after all, as recent research shows the penis to be filled with receptors for THC, marijuana’s active ingredient. As a result, marijuana may have a negative impact on male sexual performance, ultimately leading to erectile dysfunction. Doh!
Rany Shamloul, a physician with appointments at the University of Ottawa and Queen’s University in Canada as well as the University of Cairo, conducted a review of studies on marijuana to determine how weed affects male sexual function. He found that many of the studies were not only contradictory, but rife with problems as well.
Some early studies found marijuana to have positive effects, sexually, for men. For instance, in a 1982 survey 75% of men reported sexual enhancement from smoking marijuana (…love weed, baby). But a study published last year in the journal European Urology found the penis to contain receptors for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in the Mary Jane. The receptors are located mainly throughout the smooth muscle of the penis. Additional lab studies suggest that THC has an inhibitory effect on the muscle.
Says Shamloul, “This is a more serious effect on the erectile function because the smooth muscle makes up 70 percent to 80 percent of the penis itself.”
According to The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 162 million people worldwide use marijuana every year. More than 22 million use it daily. That makes understanding long-term effects important, Shamloul said.
|Check it and weep, stoners.
As Shamloul says, many of the older studies showing marijuana to have positive effects on sexual performance are flawed in their lack of controlling for perceptual alterations caused by the THC itself. Other studies from the same year showed male marijuana smokers to have twice the rate of erectile dysfunction as non-smokers. Another study showed the effects of marijuana on sexual function to be dose specific–small doses having positive effects and larger doses working in the negative.
“What we are really missing are clinical studies,” Shamloul said. “We are stuck with only animal studies and molecular studies, and some clinical studies done in the ’60s and ’70s, most on a very small number of men… We need well-designed, placebo-control studies examining marijuana’s effect in both the short-term and long-term.”
Hmmm…pot and sex…any volunteers?