Marijuana and ED: does weed cause erectile dysfunction?

Written with
Dr Matthew Chan

Marijuana is known by lots of different names: weed, cannabis, hash, pot, dope, grass, bud, spliff, the devil’s lettuce, wacky backy. The list goes on. 

You can get high in different ways – from smoking a blunt to munching on some special brownies. 

And this drug is becoming more widely used – in the USA, it’s now legal in 18 states, and more than 48 million people used weed in 2019 alone.

So, we thought it was about time Mojo looked into the relationship between weed and erectile dysfunction (ED).

Medical doctor Matthew Chan and psychosexual therapist Amanda Barge  are on board to help us break down all the ways that weed can impact your erections (and what you can do if it’s happened to you).

What is weed dick?

“Weed dick” is a nickname used by a handful of people when marijuana stops someone from getting a boner. 

For some guys, this will mean they can’t get an erection when they’re high, and for others, it could mean they can’t get it up without getting high.

Can weed cause ED?

There isn’t enough reliable research out there at the moment to say for sure if weed can directly give you erectile dysfunction.

However, this study found that ED prevalence was higher in cannabis users than in people who didn’t use weed, suggesting that the drug does have some effect on your erections.

Experts don’t know exactly why marijuana can have such a negative impact on getting it up, but they believe it could be a mix of physical and psychological factors playing a role. We’ll break these down below.

Weed causing ED: why is it happening?

Cannabis impacts your body and your mind. So, naturally, it can have bodily and mental effects on your erections. 

Some of these effects will only last for as long as weed is in your system (shorter-term) and others could stick around even when you’re not high (longer-term).

Physical effects of marijuana on erections

Being high (shorter-term)

  • It’s no secret that weed gets you high – that’s kind of the whole point
  • But along with happy, relaxed feelings, you might also experience altered physical senses and impaired movement
  • These sensations can make it hard to send the right signals to your penis, so you’ll have more trouble getting hard

Impacts on the brain (shorter and longer-term)

  • Bear with us here, it’s about to get a bit complicated
  • THC (short for 'tetrahydrocannabinol' – try saying that fast 3 times) is an active ingredient in weed
  • When it enters your body, it attaches to your ‘cannabinoid receptors’ – these are the things on your cells which tell your body how to react to weed
  • In your brain, THC attaches to cannabinoid receptors in the hypothalamus (which manages sexual behavior)
  • Evidence suggests that for some guys, THC attaching to cannabinoid receptors in this area could make it physically hard to get it up
  • But be aware that more research needs to be done in this area

Impacts on the penis (shorter and longer-term)

  • You know how there are cannabinoid receptors in your brain? Well, you’ve also got them in your penis tissue (sexy stuff)
  • THC attaches to these receptors too, and some research suggests that this could have a direct effect on your erections
  • But more studies need to be done before we can say exactly what’s going on down there when you’re high

Smoking issues (shorter and longer-term)

  • This isn’t about weed itself, but we have to acknowledge that weed is often mixed with tobacco before being smoked
  • Hate to state the obvious, but smoking tobacco is bad for you – and it’s especially bad for your boners
  • Tobacco contains nicotine, which can reduce your sex drive and harden blood vessels in your penis, which need to stretch and swell for you to get an erection

Psychological effects of marijuana on erections

Becoming reliant on weed to have sex (shorter and longer-term)

  • Some people find that weed makes them hornier and more relaxed, so getting high before sex can become part of your sexual routine
  • Unfortunately, this could make you feel like you can’t have sex without weed, and you might end up feeling anxious about sober sex 
  • This can lead to sexual performance anxiety, which is bad news for your erections

Additional mental health issues (shorter and longer-term)

  • Weed has been linked to some pretty serious mental health issues
  • It’s widely understood that marijuana can make depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders, paranoia, mood changes, and schizophrenia more likely
  • Poor mental health can absolutely reduce your sexual arousal and throw off your erections

Correlation between underlying mental health issues and weed use (shorter and longer-term)

  • Weed can provide an escape from the hard stuff in life
  • For some, it provides an escape from serious issues like stress, depression, or anxiety 
  • If this sounds like you, it could be that an underlying mental health problem is causing your erection problems, not the weed itself

Decreased libido (shorter and longer-term)

  • We all know weed makes some people feel great – this is because the THC in pot increases the levels of dopamine (the feel good chemical) in your brain, which contributes to sexual arousal 
  • But this can mean that it becomes harder for your brain to release dopamine without weed 
  • If you’re relying on weed to provide you with dopamine, you run the risk of developing a dependency on the drug and you may find it harder to get aroused without it (which can lead to erection problems)

Relationship problems (shorter and longer-term)

  • When it comes to any kind of drug use, it may have an impact on people around you
  • And especially if you use marijuana frequently, or if you’ve become dependent on it, it could have an effect on your partner
  • Mood changes, irritability, and anxiety are all common side effects of weed – and they can creep into your relationship
  • If you’re having relationship problems, this can contribute to issues with sex drive, arousal, erections, or intimacy in general

Can smoking weed every day cause erectile dysfunction?

Just like smoking any amount of weed, there isn’t enough evidence to confirm whether smoking weed on a daily basis can cause ED. 

But the more you smoke, the more likely it is that you’ll experience the effects of weed on your erections that we’ve outlined above.  So, to stay on the safe side, you may want to cut down your daily use.   

Mixing Viagra and weed: is it safe?

Sildenafil (more commonly known by the brand name Viagra) is just one type of PDE5 inhibitor – these are drugs that relax blood vessels and increase blood flow to the penis, allowing you to get an erection.

Research on whether you can take Viagra with weed also isn’t comprehensive, but some research suggests it might not be a great idea. 

A 2006 study (a while ago, we know) showed that weed can prevent Viagra from being processed properly in your body. This actually increases the effects of Viagra, which can make heart problems more likely. 

If you dabble in weed, you’re having erection problems, and want to steer clear of ED medication like Viagra, then Mojo might be a good pill-free alternative

Does weed help erectile dysfunction?

There’s no solid proof that weed helps or cures erectile dysfunction. But for some men, it could be helpful.

For example, if your ED is rooted in anxiety you may find that marijuana helps you relax, which could help your erections. 

Plus, studies show that, for certain people, weed can heighten arousal. So if libido is the issue, weed could help with that. 

“Weed could help if you’re having arousal issues, or help with psychological ED if it reduces anxiety.

But there is a danger of becoming psychologically dependent on it.

You also have to consider all of the other negative side effects of weed use, like the potential impacts on mental health and the fact that marijuana can also lead to anxiety (which then cause erection issues).”

– Dr Matthew Chan, medical doctor

If you're looking to get relaxed and turned on in the bedroom without weed, you should check out Mojo’s trial. We’ve helped thousands of men already. And spoiler alert: they don’t have any scary side effects.

Best marijuana for erectile dysfunction

Unsurprisingly, there isn’t enough research yet into the best weed strains for erectile dysfunction. 

We’d recommend sticking with something more tried and tested when it comes to ED treatment for now. Reliable techniques are available with Mojo,  just sayin'.

Can't get hard without weed?

There’s no medical reason why you shouldn’t be able to get hard without weed. But if you’ve fallen into the habit of consuming weed before sex, that might explain why (psychologically) you’d struggle to get it up without getting high.

“Men can sometimes have rigid beliefs about what they need to be able to have sex – they might think they ‘need’ marijuana to be able to relax and ‘perform’. They could then start doubting their sober erections. This kind of dependency is unhelpful when it comes to building confidence in your natural erections.” 

Amanda Barge, psychosexual and relationship therapist 

It's the doubts themselves that contribute to unreliable erections when you’re sober – and these worries can even lead to sexual performance anxiety.

Can quitting smoking weed cause erectile dysfunction?

Did you know that weed withdrawal is a thing? And like any kind of withdrawal, it’s no fun.

If you smoke a lot of weed and you quit suddenly, you could experience insomnia, headaches, chills, and other unpleasant side effects.

If your body is dealing with this stuff, it will probably deprioritize sex until you feel more calm and comfortable. So, while you’re going through withdrawal from quitting weed, your boners could suffer.

The worst of your physical withdrawal symptoms should be over in 72 hours. But the good news is, once you’re out of withdrawal, there’s no direct, medical reason why you wouldn’t be able to get it up after you’ve quit weed. 

How to treat ED caused by weed

Treatments for physical ED caused by weed

If you just can’t get it up when you’re high (shorter-term)

  • We hate to say it, but there’s no magic cure here
  • If you have trouble getting a boner when you’re high, you may have to choose between the weed or getting it up for sex (personally, we’d take the sex every time)

If you think weed is affecting your brain or your penis (shorter and longer-term)

  • You should go to your doctor. They’ll help you figure out what’s wrong and sort out any treatment you might need
  • Don’t forget, ED can be influenced by loads of different causes – it might not even be weed that’s causing the issue, so it’s best to get your penis problems checked by a professional

If you smoke tobacco with weed and it’s causing problems (shorter and longer-term)

  • If you’re worried about the tobacco in your joints causing ED, unfortunately there’s no work-around: cutting out tobacco is the way to go
  • We all know quitting smoking is hard, but support networks are available – and it could be the best way to protect your erections

Treatments for psychological ED caused by weed 

If you think you need weed to have sex (shorter and longer-term)

“Challenge these beliefs! Practice gently widening your experiences to help you feel more confident in your erections and performance.”

Amanda Barge, psychosexual and relationship therapist

This is all about getting out of a sexual rut and varying your sexual routines – this could involve:

  • Trying mindful masturbation to uncover new sensations that turn you on (Mojo can teach you how to do this, step-by-step)
  • Trying new positions when masturbating or having sex with a partner
  • Taking time to explore your erotic template
  • And if you’ve developed sexual performance anxiety about sober sex, we have a dedicated course to help you overcome it

If weed is making your mental health worse (shorter and longer-term)

If you use weed to escape from other mental health problems (shorter and longer-term)

  • It can be beneficial to look at what you’re trying to avoid and starting to tackle those root issues
  • All kinds of mental health hiccups can interfere with your erections, and if you can sort out your head, you could sort out your erections
  • Therapy, including CBT, could support you through this
  • Practical lifestyle changes, like exercising more and eating a healthy diet, could also help you improve your mental wellbeing alongside any therapy 
  • Talking about the problem is a great place to start, and if you want to talk to guys who are working on their psychological roadblocks and their erections, Mojo’s community is the place to be

Decreased libido (shorter and longer-term)

Getting back in touch with pleasurable sensations is key here. This could involve:

  • Mindful masturbation 
  • Taking more time with foreplay and building sexual anticipation
  • Tuning into physical sensations with body scan meditations

Our ‘Boosting Your Arousal’ series is tailor-made to help you out with your libido – we can walk you through all these techniques and many more

Relationship problems (shorter and longer-term)

  • Open up to your partner – just sharing how you’re feeling can be enough to make a huge positive change
  • Trying couples therapy can also be a brilliant option
  • Mojo’s meditations for couples can also be a great way to rebuild connection and intimacy

Check out Mojo’s trial to help you get stronger erections if a) your erections have been impacted by weed or b) you’re looking to have better sex without relying on marijuana or c) both.

Mojo aims to provide useful wellbeing resources to its users; however, you should not solely rely on opinions or advice available on the Website or given by the Community. Always seek advice from a qualified medical doctor or other healthcare professional before acting.

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