Where there’s dope smoke, there’s more bed­room fire

Sunday Star-Times - - World -

The an­cients knew the power of cannabis. An early Western trav­eller to In­dia wrote how the drug was taken to give lo­cals ‘‘in­tense aphro­disiac de­sire’’. In the Mid­dle East, a pas­sage in Ara­bian Nights asked: ‘‘Art thou not ashamed, O hashish-eater, to be sleep­ing stark naked with stiff-standing tool?’’

Now sci­ence has con­firmed it – peo­ple who smoke mar­i­juana do have more sex.

Re­searchers at Stan­ford Univer­sity have used a life­style sur­vey of 50,000 adults aged 25 to 45 to as­sess the ef­fect of the drug on sex­ual ac­tiv­ity.

Many mod­ern doc­tors had as­sumed that the drug would have a damp­en­ing ef­fect on de­sire, im­ped­ing sex­ual func­tion­ing. The lat­est work, pub­lished in The Jour­nal of Sex­ual Medicine, found the re­verse.

‘‘Fre­quent mar­i­juana use doesn’t seem to im­pair sex­ual mo­ti­va­tion or per­for­mance. If any­thing, it’s as­so­ci­ated with in­creased coital fre­quency,’’ said Michael Eisen­berg, from Stan­ford Univer­sity School of Medicine, who led the study.

Which­ever group he and his col­leagues looked at – mar­ried, young, old, ed­u­cated, un­healthy or healthy – they found the same pat­tern. When the re­searchers com­pared peo­ple’s re­ported cannabis use with their re­ported sex­ual ac­tiv­ity, the two rose to­gether.

Reg­u­lar users had roughly a fifth more sex. Women who had used the drug daily had sex 7.1 times. For men, the fig­ures were sim­i­lar: 5.6 ver­sus 6.9.

The study could not say why this was or con­firm that one caused the other. ‘‘It doesn’t say if you smoke more mar­i­juana, you’ll have more sex,’’ Eisen­berg said. It could be, for in­stance, that those who smoke cannabis are also the sort of free and easy peo­ple who would have more sex any­way.

How­ever, when the re­searchers looked at other il­le­gal drugs, such as co­caine, they found no such link. This im­plied that the ef­fect re­ally might be caused by the cannabis it­self.

While this is good news for adults who reg­u­larly smoke cannabis, it does not change the fact that there re­main other health con­se­quences from us­ing the drug, in­clud­ing a link to schizophre­nia.

Sep­a­rately, there have been stud­ies show­ing re­duced sperm counts among heavy smok­ers – and, con­trary to Ara­bian Nights, re­ports of erec­tile dys­func­tion.

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