Nicolle Hodges:

Cannabis lube — reframing sex for the sake of orgasms

Why a question needs to be asked is often more telling than the answer. I had initially committed to writing an article asking whether cannabis lube causes a man’s dick to go numb or soft because a few male friends had shared their experience with desensitization. I posted a poll on social media asking if people with penises have used cannabis lube (65 per cent said yes; 35 per cent said no), and then if those same penised people ever felt like they were left phantom-thrusting (86 per cent experienced numbness). A few days into my research, a friend sent me a text and it reframed my approach to this piece entirely.

“I have brought [cannabis lube] to three dick appointments and it’s made every guy go soft! I’ve had to stop bringing it despite it working so well for myself.”

The cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) acts as a vasodilator, meaning you’re going to feel a rush of blood to the area you apply the lube or spray (a little spritz to engorge your lips?!) and you might feel a slight head-high too.

When I asked women if cannabis lube increased their pleasure, 84 per cent said yes. My first thought was that by not addressing the issue of cannabis-lube-dick-numbness (86 per cent!) even though the majority of women experienced heightened pleasure, they might be inclined to forfeit the product for the sake of their partner. Is that waving the flag of sexual empowerment, for anyone? Without needing to reach an answer, I surrendered to the journey of asking questions and seeing where it flowed.

Cannabis companies with lube on the market, including Foria, QUIM, and Velvet Swing say the benefits range from reducing pre-sex anxiety to increasing the intensity of orgasm. The cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) acts as a vasodilator, meaning you’re going to feel a rush of blood to the area you apply the lube or spray (a little spritz to engorge your lips?!) and you might feel a slight head-high too. Cannabidiol (CBD) doesn’t have the same effect but it is an anti-inflammatory. If you experience pain during penetration, are recovering from a vaginal birth, or have terrible menstrual cramps, CBD can help your insides feel stuffed with cotton balls rather than jagged rocks. Where pain ends, pleasure begins.

Velvet Swing is the only company I could find that specifically addressed whether men can use lube too:

“No matter what your anatomy or pronoun, Velvet Swing can work for you. People with penises should use less to start with, however, as it is easier to overdo it and desensitize. Then again, we have many loyal customers who use it to help sex last longer!”

I once again asked women what their male partner experienced during intercourse where cannabis lube was applied to her vagina and/or vulva:

“Numb but so fun.”
“Honestly, it saved me from becoming so swollen that we wouldn’t be able to continue.”
“He liked it.”
“He felt tingly and it made him last longer.”
“Soft within three minutes.”
“He noticed I was more open and wet but he didn’t notice a difference for him.”
“He didn’t love it, said it felt different; didn’t love the smell/taste.”

I circled back around to the men, trying to find some consistency.

“It wasn’t so much a numbing, but there was definitely a warm and almost slightly tingling feeling. My dick had its own body high! I quite enjoyed it. But it didn’t have the lasting power/same feeling as some more water-based ones I’ve used. Like Sutil.”

“Not numb but felt different. Almost desensitized but still a pleasurable and overall good experience. Positive feedback on the lube from my girlfriend at the time.”

“Wouldn’t quite say it numbs it (like lidocaine in others) because it dials down how your dick feels in a way that you feel more of your partner and less of you. They said they felt everything more intensely. Maybe not magic, but eases each feeling to just focus on them and the experience.”

“I’ve used weed lube, still have it. Shit was bomb. It made me last longer, feel more, and it was all around a good time. My partner was not a regular user of weed and it made her feel “strange.” So, we stopped using it to my dismay.”

Swinging on a vine between the male and female experience—some saying cannabis lube is good and others not so much—I reached out to sex coach and CannaSexual creator, Ashley Manta, for stability.

While warmth and sensitivity make sense, as the lube expands capillaries and ushers blood flow to the area, penis numbness is not something she has heard often.

“..But I have heard a couple of stories about experiencing a slightly less firm erection in some folks after using the oil,” she begins. “I can't speak for all infused oils, but I use Foria's products exclusively and there's nothing in their CBD or THC formula that should cause numbness.”

Her explanation? If the cannabinoids help to relax muscles, and the penis is a muscle, some folks might lose firmness.

“Typically, cannabis oils don't absorb as well into penises because they lack the exposed mucous membrane that the vulva has,” she says. “I suspect the ones who are having these experiences are likely the outliers.”

As I contemplated soft cocks and wet pussies over breakfast, I wondered if the question wasn’t really about lube but our idea of what constitutes a complete sexual experience.

To the 86 per cent from my Instagram poll—the ones who feel desensitized or numb—there is hope!

Manta explains: “If something applied to the vulva/vagina is having a sub-optimal reaction with the penis, I'd suggest folks use condoms to prevent the oil from getting from the vulva onto the penis. Because these infused products are often oil-based, it's important to use oil-compatible condoms like Trojan Supra or the FC2 Internal Condom, and avoid latex barriers, which are not compatible with oil. If erections are an issue, I'd also encourage the penis-owner to consider using a cock ring like the Super Soft C-Ring from Tantus. Cock rings are great because they allow blood to flow into the penis but keep it from traveling back out, leading to longer, harder erections. Cock rings can be used safely for up to 30 minutes.”

As I contemplated soft cocks and wet pussies over breakfast, I wondered if the question wasn’t really about lube but our idea of what constitutes a complete sexual experience.

Given our current definition, sexual intercourse is an activity in which male arousal is a necessary condition, and male satisfaction, if not also a necessary condition, is the endpoint. Our language mirrors this confusion. Anything prior to insertion is deemed foreplay or preliminary. Sex is widely accepted as an activity that is brought to a conclusion by the male orgasm, and physiologically, it is difficult, if not impossible, to continue intercourse after ejaculation. His orgasm is positioned as a goal because by its very nature, it marks the final destination! This means that when we’re talking about the female orgasm, what we’re actually talking about is her orgasm in the time permitted after penetration but before the male orgasm. We do not look at her sexual experience as uniquely hers: a complete experience independent of the whole—or better yet—the starting point that sets in motion seemingly endless waves and peaks of pleasure.

The orgasm disparity would be reduced if the standard sexual activity were a process characterized by the arousal and release of both sexes, as their capacity for pleasure allows. Her, a comma; him, an exclamation point.

The irony of the orgasm gap is that it should be the other way around. We should live in a world where men have the right to complain that they only get to cum once while their lady is constantly writhing in rapture, in the same way that women express dull indignation every time they squat to pee. The orgasm disparity would be reduced if the standard sexual activity were a process characterized by the arousal and release of both sexes, as their capacity for pleasure allows. Her, a comma; him, an exclamation point.

Perhaps, cannabis lube will broaden the scope of potential pleasure and reframe what we’ve been conditioned to believe intercourse is. If he doesn’t feel as much sensation but she feels more—maybe, just maybe—it’s time we truly permit a man’s orgasm to mark the end, so long as hers now marks the beginning.