Want to know how drugs can affect your bedroom activities?
Whilst sex itself is a natural high, some people are intent on achieving an altered sexual experience via the use of drugs. Haven’t we all done this to some degree? Maybe it was your first sexual encounter that was aided by a few thimblefuls of ‘Dutch courage’, a stoned fumble in college or a pick-up in a club when you were high? Drugs and sex are common bed partners but in what ways do they alter our experience in the sack/ Some people report heightened sensation, multiple orgasms and increased intimacy whilst on drugs yet others find it hard to orgasm and experience anxiety, violence and depression as well as regret.
In this feature, we take a look at how using some of the most popular drugs can alter your experience of sex.
Sex on Drugs
First off, it goes without saying that a lot of the drugs listed in this feature are illegal in a lot of countries. This is often because they carry enormous health risks and, being prohibited substances, do not come with any quality control or assurances as to the ingredients contained within them.
We should point out that we are in no way endorsing the use of drugs to enhance or alter your sexual experience; instead, we are merely summarizing any research and evidence (including anecdotal as well as scientific) as to their effects.
Lastly, we’ve tried to put together our findings based on a moderate intake of any of these drugs and, taken in excess, your mileage may vary considerably. For example, the use of alcohol can make you feel relaxed and uninhibited which could lead to a very rewarding sexual experience. However, drink too much and you probably won’t remember a thing and you could make some serious errors of judgement in your intoxicated state…or just pass out in a pool of your own vomit.
This feature is not intended to be an instructional aid to getting your kicks whilst on a high.
Sex and Alcohol
We’ll kick off this feature with perhaps the most commonly used drug worldwide; alcohol.
Legal in most countries over a certain age, 2015 statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that more than 86% of adults have tried alcohol with seven out of ten people having done so in the 12 months prior to the survey.
Yeah, alcohol is a popular recreational drug and is probably something that most people will already have some experience of when it comes to its effects, specifically combined with a sexual encounter.
Physical Effects of Alcohol on the Body
A depressant drug, alcohol affects the chemistry of the brain by increasing levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that can help you feel more relaxed. This can in turn lower your inhibitions and make you more sociable and chattier.
However, the physical effects of alcohol mean that your body’s systems start to slow down. Your body temperature will drop, your blood pressure will fall and your heart rate will slow down. This can affect things like balance and coordination.
Alcohol also increases dopamine which gives you a buzz plus it can temporarily increase the amount of norepinephrine, a stimulant which increases excitement and arousal.
It can have wildly varying effects on mood from happiness to depression, elation to anger.
Lastly, alcohol subdues the activity of the prefrontal cortex which can lead to impaired judgement and an increase in impulsivity.
These should all be reasonably familiar effects if you have ever tried alcohol and, the more you drink, the greater the impact of these effects.
Alcohol and Sexual Experiences
The fine line between alcohol acting as a depressant and a stimulant is a very delicate one and people’s reactions to drinking can vary; mood can also be affected by lots of other factors.
In general, alcohol suppresses inhibitions and increases arousal. However, the effects of this substance on sexual experience differs a lot depending on lots of factors including environmental factors and your mood prior to drinking. It can also be affected by the kind of alcohol you are drinking and with whom. However, when the timing and chemistry are right, alcohol can certainly ease people into a sexual encounter more quickly and easily than without.
Once you are in the sack though, studies show that both men and women can take longer to achieve orgasm as well as enjoying a decreased intensity when they finally climax. Everyone’s ‘mileage’ may vary with some women reporting an increase in sensations.
However, in men, alcohol has categorically been shown to negatively impact performance. Primarily, it inhibits the production of testosterone which is critical for the libido. The result can be a decrease in sexual arousal plus difficulty in achieving orgasm. And, even when you reach climax, the intensity and pleasure is reportedly less intense.
Lastly, the most common effects of alcohol being its ability to lower your inhibitions and impair your judgement which means, of course, that it is the morning after where sex and alcohol can have the greatest effect. Yes, the infamous ‘beer goggles’ can mean a sore head and a regret over who you find in your bed.
Sex and Cannabinoids
Once a stigmatized drug associated with hippies and stoners, and now enjoying legalization in some states, recreational cannabis use is on the increase. And not only for its mood-enhancing and relaxational properties but also as an aid for sexual enjoyment.
Firstly, there are many different types of marijuana and hash on the market with each type purporting to have many different properties. From skunk to weed, boom to bud, dope to hemp, they all share just one main ingredient; cannabis.
Physical Effects of Cannabis on the Body
Though the rate of impact on the body varies depending on how you administer the drug (smoke, ingest, vape, etc.) and what kind of cannabinoid you are you using, the main effects on the body are:
- Dopamine is released giving you that infamous, pleasurable ‘high’.
- Increased heart rate which can make some users feel anxious or excited.
- Heightened perception but impaired judgement.
- Altered balance and coordination.
- Reduced ability to form new memories.
As with alcohol, the more cannabis you use the greater the effects and excess use can have some alarming consequences. High concentrations of this particular drug can cause hallucinations or delusions and exacerbate any pre-existing conditions such as depression or anxiety.
Cannabis and Sexual Experiences
Cannabis has long had a reputation for decreasing sexual function, having a negative effect on sperm quality and making it harder to climax. However, there is new evidence to support the long held anecdotal claims that cannabis can actually heighten pleasure and increase the quality and length of orgasms.
The main reason for this is thought to be associated with the fact that the drug makes everything slow down.
The THC in cannabis which is responsible for increasing your heart rate also has an effect on blood vessels which causes them to expand. It may be this element which reportedly gives some users an increase in sensation.
Anecdotal evidence from some users report that marijuana use intensifies sex to such an extent that it is the only way they can achieve multiple orgasms.
A report in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reported in 2017 that marijuana users were having more sex. The study showed that of the 60,000 people surveyed 22% of men and 34% of women who smoked cannabis weekly were enjoying more sex than those that didn’t.
Other studies suggest a strong link between cannabis use and riskier sexual practices. One report published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs focused on the link between condom-use in recreational marijuana users. The findings support similar hypotheses that the drug has an effect on safe-sex choices and contraception. Certainly, in areas where marijuana has been legalized, a correlative increase in birth-rates has been identified.
Lastly, in the 2010 paper Cannabis Use and Sexual Health, scientists reported a link between cannabis use and promiscuous behavior as well as difficulties in men’s ability to achieve orgasm.
Sex and Club Drugs
Club drugs like MDMA (e.g. Molly and Ecstasy), GHB (e.g. liquid-G, Blue Nitro) and flunitrazepam (rohypnol) are mostly illegal substances but can be quite common as recreational drugs in some countries.
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, is the psychoactive drug found in pills like ecstasy and Molly and has been widely used in the club culture over the last few decades as a stimulant and to alter mood.
MDMA increases the release of the two ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain; dopamine and serotonin. The resultant effects can include an increased feeling of empathy and pleasure, making you feel ‘loved up’. A powerful stimulant, the drug also boosts your energy and makes you feel responsive and alert.
However, MDMA can also induce paranoia, anxiety and confusion with some users reporting hallucinogenic episodes and psychosis.
As an illegal substance, MDMA is not subject to any form of controls and as a result can sometimes contain (be ‘cut’ with) other ingredients that can significantly alter the desired effects.
When it comes to sex, users report that the empathetic feeling can make the experience more intimate and emotional rather than physical. It is also reported that lowered inhibitions means sex can be more experimental.
Some men report not being able to climax using MDMA but that this was not perceived as an issue at the time. Instead, the focus of the experience was on the ‘emotional connection’ between them and their partner and that orgasm wasn’t the pinnacle of their enjoyment.
Also known as gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, GHB was principally used as a prescription only drug to treat disorders like narcolepsy, alcoholism and cataplexy. It has also been used as a general anesthetic. However, it has come to prominence since as long ago as the 1970s as a recreational drug as well as being used for boosting athletic performance. Worryingly, the drug is also used in the context of date rape due to its properties which include:
- increased libido.
- increased suggestibility.
- memory loss.
GHB is actually a depressant and slows down the activity of the central nervous system and can make users feel both relaxed and more sociable plus lower their inhibitions.
Sex whilst using GHB is a mixed bag as the drug can cause drowsiness and induce sleep. Because of its associations with memory loss there are few people who can attest to its efficacy. Certainly, the evidence suggests that whilst a temporary increase in libido may be experienced, there is a high likelihood that you will fall asleep long before you get to enjoy it.
Similarly to GHB, flunitrazepam (also known as rohypnol) is a prescription only sedative that has come to have associations as a date rape drug. Like GHB, flunitrazepam makes users feel drowsy and extremely relaxed but can also induce slurred speech and confusion.
Sex and Stimulants
It is no secret that stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines can work by increasing how alert you are and how much energy you have. When it comes to sex, this can mean you can last for a lot longer but does this translate to improved performance, heightened sensitivity and increased libido?
Sex and Cocaine
A notoriously addictive drug known for its euphoric highs and energy-boosting properties, cocaine is also a powerful aphrodisiac.
It has long been used to enhance the feelings of pleasure, increase endurance and to boost the libido. Other side-effects of using cocaine which can alter the sexual experience include:
- Increased confidence.
- Increased focus.
- Increased sensory perception.
- Increased awareness.
When combined, all of these factors can make sex last longer and improve satisfaction. However, just like with MDMA cocaine can make climax harder to achieve and may even cause erectile dysfunction over medium to long term chronic use.
Sex on cocaine can be an intense experience for many people and because the ability to orgasm is delayed and you have more energy, it can be fast and furious without any premature ejaculations to spoil the mood.
However, when it comes to mood, cocaine (in the opposite way that drugs like MDMA create intimate feelings) induces a kind of narcissistic euphoria. So, whilst you may have more focus, concentration and awareness, the experience can be pretty one-sided, especially emotionally.
Just like with many other drugs on the list, cocaine can alter your judgement and can be associated with making reckless choices and lead to unprotected and risky sex.
Sex and Amphetamines
Amphetamines come in many shapes and sizes and are known by many different names from uppers to bennies, black beauties to speed, crosses to hearts. They are all another class of stimulant and act on the central nervous system to produce effects such as:
- Feelings of wakefulness and excess energy.
- Increased concentration and attentiveness.
- Faster reactions.
They also increase blood flow to the genitals so, in the right circumstances, can increase libido and heighten pleasure during sex.
As another drug which lights up the dopamine system, amphetamines can produce compulsive desires that override critical judgement….which basically means you are more likely to take risks and make poor decisions because you are horny.
Some users find it difficult to climax whilst others can come easily and be ready to go again quite quickly. However, many people report that their orgasms are not as euphoric or relaxing and the desire simply to get going again can reduce their satisfaction in climax.
In men, there are some reports that their ejaculation feels hotter than usual when using amphetamines.
Whilst most people report fairly positive experiences of sex on amphetamines, some people find they become agitated, anxious and/or aggressive whilst using this kind of drug. Certainly there are some groups of people who report enjoying sex that is more rough than usual owing to amphetamine use.
Sex and Methamphetamines
A part of the same family as amphetamines, meth (or crystal, glass, ice) has very similar properties and effects. However, meth highs can be more intense and may be accompanied by more unpredictable behavior and hallucinations. Critically, it is the rate of intoxication and peak highs which differentiate the two.
With meth, the high and frenetic rush of energy is short-lived followed by a sustained period of greater well-being and high energy whereas simple amphetamines produce a more level period of intoxication without this tell-tale ‘peak’.
Sex and Hallucinogens
There are lots of hallucinogenic drugs including magic mushrooms (containing psilocybin, mescaline and LSD. Whilst they each have some very different characteristics, they all essentially alter the user’s perception of reality.
There are three main types of recreational hallucinogenic drug:
- Psychedelic (e.g. LSD and magic mushrooms)
- Dissassociative (e.g. PCP, nitrous oxide and Ketamine)
- Deliriants (some mushrooms)
As a result, sex on hallucinogens can be a pretty wild and ‘cosmic’ experience, depending on what you are using.
LSD and Magic Mushrooms
Strongly connected to the pleasure center, or serotonergic system, LSD can enhance feelings of empathy, heighten sensations and make you feel in awe of the smallest things…..pun intended.
As you would expect, users can experience some powerful hallucinations which are unique to the individual. They are usually determined by your own mood and imagination so are likely to enhance rather than drastically alter your experience of sex.
Inhibitions are generally lowered whilst using this kind of drug and they can make you more energized and aroused.
However, whilst some people report that LSD (or magic mushrooms) enhances empathy, some say that it actually decreases the libido and can dampen the mood. Certainly both can make you excited and giggly which may not be the best way to experiment sexually with a new partner.
The sensations and experience can also be quite overwhelming at times and may make some people feel panicked, suspicious and confused.
A type of anesthetic, PCP (also known as ‘Angel Dust’) is used to induce a dreamlike state of numbness and ‘floaty’ feelings. It is a powerful drug that can have very different results when taken even by the same person depending on their mood, surroundings and dose. Whilst the desired effect may be its numbing properties and blissful state, it can produce panic, paranoia, aggression and depression. As well as hallucinations, PCP is a dissassociative drug and can affect the perception of time and physical experience of an activity.
Ketamine shares much of the same properties as PCP and is used to create a chilled feeling of detachment, happiness and relaxation. However, ketamine can also make you experience time and sensations in unusual ways.
Generally, both drugs cause users to act in a slow and confused way which, apparently and unsurprisingly, doesn’t lead to the best sex.
Sex and Inhalants
Inhalant drugs can include a variety of solvents, gases and nitrates from laughing gas (hallucinogenic) to poppers and snappers.
Poppers, infamous for their associations with anal sex, increase blood flow and relax the walls of the vagina and the sphincter. They can deliver a powerful but short head rush that can leave some people feeling euphoric.
The combination of a happy state of mind, a sense of relaxation and a boost of blood to the genitals explains why poppers are a popular drug to use for altering your experience of sex. Some people who use this kind of inhalant also report more intense orgasms and stronger erections whilst others have trouble becoming aroused as a result of their use.
Sex and Opioids
Opioids are the daddy of recreational drugs and are known for their highly addictive properties as well as their desired effects of euphoria. Mostly illegal unless used as prescription painkillers, the most common varieties of opioid are codeine, morphine, opium and heroin.
All opioids tend to make people feel extremely relaxed and sleepy. With heroin, this is often accompanied by an overwhelming euphoria.
Although there are no studies on the experience of sex using opioids, it stands to reason that although the relaxed state and euphoric state of mind can intensify feelings of intimacy, the drug doesn’t lend itself well to enhancing the act of physical sex.
There is some evidence to support the findings that frequent male users of opioids can suffer from higher rates of premature ejaculation and impotence.
Sex and Steroids
Also known as gym candy, the most common kinds of steroids are androgens used to boost physical performance. Steroids can certainly boost sex drive in both men and women but can also cause erection problems. Conversely, they can also lower libido in some users.
Sex and Natural Highs
With all the caveats and warnings about sex and drugs, you could be forgiven for swearing off most of these as an experiment for the future. The good news is that as well as sex producing its own powerful release of oxytocin and endorphins, you can also harness some legal and natural highs to alter your experience.
We’ve covered a range of ways to enhance sexual pleasure from the use of props and toys to some less conventional techniques in our feature, Ways to Heighten Orgasm.
Featured image via pxhere.