"Frequent marijuana use doesn't seem to impair sexual motivation or performance", said Eisenberg. With the legalization of marijuana on a march through the states, this study sheds some light on a drug that remains both stunningly popular (up to 33 million reportedly partake, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health) and yet hard to legally analyze in medical labs, researchers told Washington Post columnist Robert Gebelhoff.
Seven states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
To arrive at an accurate determination of marijuana's effect on intercourse frequency, Eisenberg and Sun turned to the National Survey of Family Growth, sponsored by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the study, Eisenberg and Sun analysed data going back to 2002 from the annual US National Survey of Family Growth which contains information regarding family structures, sexual practices and childbearing from a sample created to represent the demographics of the American population. Originally conducted at regular intervals, the survey is now carried out on an annual basis.
"We reported how often they smoke - monthly, weekly or daily - and how many times they've had sex in the last month", said Dr. Michael Eisenberg, the lead author. Eisenberg says this suggests the connection goes beyond less inhibited personalities being both more sexually active and more likely to use marijuana. They included data from respondents ages 25-45 and excluded a small percentage (fewer than 3 percent) of respondents who had failed to answer one or more relevant questions.
For the study, the team included data on 28,176 women - 29.9 years old and 22,943 men. "So over the course of a year, they're having sex maybe 20 more times".
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There are reports of erectile dysfunction in men who regularly use cannabis, and previous studies have found reduced sperm counts in pot smokers.
Because marijuana is still illegal in the majority of places, Palamar found that most people have to smoke in private, and that could lead to more opportunities to initiate intimacy, compared with people who drink, since alcohol is everywhere.
Moreover, Eisenberg said, the positive association between marijuana use and coital frequency was independent of demographic, health, marital or parental status. This trend held even when researchers accounted for other drug use by participants.
Further bolstering the findings, the study also found what researchers call a "dose-dependent relationship" between marijuana use and sex frequency: as respondents' marijuana use rates increased, so did their frequency of having sex.
Crunching the figures, the authors found pot increased sexual activity by 20 percent.
However, Eisenberg stressed that the study does not prove a causal link. But thanks to the Stanford University School of Medicine, we now have substantive proof: Cannabis users have more sex.