The benefits of weed and and masturbation feel like a given. Numerous studies have pointed out smoking weed can have aphrodisiac effects, relaxing your inhibitions and heightening your senses. But the most empowering way to celebrate 420 might not be to have stoned sex with a partner, but with yourself.
According to past research, smoking marijuana has been found to trigger the release of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for inducing feelings of bonding and intimacy. Plus, marijuana's psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is chemically similar to the body's natural anandamide, which is responsible for alleviating anxiety.
"Cannabis oxygenates your body, expanding your lung capacity," says Nick Karras, human sexuality scholar and author of The Passionate High. "Your hearing is heightened, your vision is heightened, your skin can feel things you can't normally feel. That's because of extra oxygen in your blood vessels."
But solo experiences have unique possibilities of their own. Without the pressure of focusing a partner, playing with yourself after smoking weed offers a prime opportunity for self-exploration.
"There's a lot of emphasis on orgasm these days, and it causes a lot of stress," Karras says. "One of the wonderful things about cannabis is ... it helps with just being in your body, just touching and exploring yourself."
In a Google survey distributed by Mic, some readers echoed this sentiment, saying they frequently smoked weed before jerking off and that their orgasms were much more intense while stoned. "While watching porn you almost become part of these scene. Jesus Christ, masturbating while high [is] awesome," Alex*, 34, said.
There is, however, one drawback for men who smoke weed: Getting too high can allegedly sometimes derail male arousal, resulting in a condition formally referred to in the scientific community as "weed dick."
According to medical marijuana expert Jordan Tishler, however, women don't experience such side effects. In fact, getting high and masturbating is one of the sexual arenas where women have the upper hand (pun intended).
"There are four main areas where sexual dysfunction can occur: desire, arousal, orgasm, satisfaction," Tishler tells Mic. "Cannabis can help with all of these issues, particularly for women."
Even though masturbation has all kinds of health benefits for women — such as stress relief and helping prevent cervical infections, according to Women's Health Network — the cultural taboo associated with female self-love keeps many women from partaking in the act. In fact, 70% of women between ages 18 and 53 reported in a 2008 survey they felt guilty about masturbating, according to a Huffington Post blog.
It's a damn shame too, because masturbation is crucial to women's sexual development. A 2015 Cosmopolitan survey found that 39% of women can usually only have orgasms with the help of their own hand or a sex toy. For those women who struggle with having an orgasm, marijuana could be one of the keys to helping them explore their own bodies and figure out what gets them off (and what doesn't).
"Marijuana could be very helpful for women who might feel guilt or hindered by an external set of values," Tishler said. "It's very useful for people trying to focus on themselves." And really, isn't that what self-love is all about?
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