Today, we’re going to touch on a topic that’s difficult to discuss: changes in your sex drive. Talking about this can be awkward or viewed as taboo, and for this reason, there is often a sense of shame surrounding the topic. But changes in libido are really quite common in those that quit. Some studies indicate that over a quarter of users experience this withdrawal symptom during the cessation period, and this is likely a vast underrepresentation of the true figure due to underreporting1. So, let’s talk about it.
Your libido, or sex drive, is influenced by both biologic and psychologic factors. On a biologic level, sex drive is modulated by several areas of your brain, most importantly the dopamine-driven reward center. The series of receptors that are modulated by marijuana, termed the endogenous cannabinoid system, are also important in modulating sexual arousal and sex drive2. After prolonged marijuana use, signaling through both these systems is altered. Dampened signals in the reward center, in particular, can make it difficult to achieve the same amount of sexual pleasure or even want to engage in sex at all. Though most individuals with altered libido do report a decrease in sexual desire, it is also possible to experience an increased sex drive. These differences are likely related to the unique biology of the individual as well as the duration and frequency of marijuana use2.
On a psychologic level, major changes in your life can lead to altered sex drive, especially if marijuana was part of your sex life. Emotions play a big role, too, and if you’re like most, the last few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster. Don’t judge yourself during this time, whatever your symptoms may be. Know that you’re not alone in this.