Marijuana has different types of benefits to the body which has been the bedrock of the growth of medical marijuana. However, it has also been implicated in some body issues one of which is erectile dysfunction. Read on as we examine if smoking cannabis plays any role in erectile dysfunction.
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a unique condition characterized by the inability of men to get and keep an erection. The condition is caused by a lack of relaxation of a smooth muscle of the penis called the corpus cavernosum. Relaxation of this smooth muscle allows an increase in blood flow into the penis which causes an erection. Drugs like Viagra work by boosting the relaxation of this muscle which helps the erection last longer.
Erectile dysfunction as you can understand causes a great degree of stress and deeply affects relationships. Contrary to common thought, erectile dysfunction is a very common condition amongst men. When it happens once or twice, there is no major threat but it becomes an issue when it occurs frequently. Statistics show that 40 percent of men above the age of 40 have experienced erectile dysfunction at one point. While 70 percent of men above the age of 70 have experienced erectile dysfunction.
Complete erectile dysfunction is the one that is a major issue. It is possible that it is an underlying symptom of another health condition and treating the condition will result in the resolution of the dysfunction. Statistics have shown that 5 percent of men above the age of 40 have complete erectile dysfunction. While 15 percent of men above the age of 70 have complete erectile dysfunction. This has raised the expenditure for treating erectile dysfunction in America considerably as more men are looking for a way out of the issue. Erectile dysfunction critically dampens masculinity when and many suffer it in silence.
Marijuana and Erectile Dysfunction
The relationship between marijuana and erection has been somewhat of a troubling matter for those involved in research about marijuana and sexual behavior. Some studies attest to the ability of marijuana to help with arousal while others point to marijuana as a major risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Marijuana thanks to the cannabinoids in its plant matrix cause mood changes, euphoric feeling, and alteration of senses. However, it is also known to affect other parts of the body differently leading to different health issues.
Here is a breakdown of things that support cannabis as a risk factor for erectile dysfunction and those that show the merits of cannabis to sexual arousal.
Reduction in cholesterol level
High cholesterol is a major risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Marijuana can reduce the level of unwanted cholesterol in the body. A study by the Clinical and Developmental Immunology shows the effectiveness of cannabis in reducing tissue buildup and damage. Tissue buildup and the damage are prompted by high cholesterol which shows marijuana can slow it down and its effects. There is still a need for more research though as the study was done on mice and yet to get the human phase.
THC is the major cannabinoid in cannabis and its primary effect is to affect the brain for arousal and euphoria. This makes cannabis primed to increase sexual desire and arousal. A report by James Halikas and some other authors in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs shows this. The report shows that men see marijuana as a sexual stimulant and it also commented on an earlier study done by James Halikas in 1895. The earlier study had 100 cannabis users studied and after 7 years, 97 of them gave an account of the effect of cannabis on their sexual experience. Most of them attested that marijuana improved their sexual experience.
Marijuana causes some sexual performance issues in men
The study done by James Halikas in 1985 also gave insight into some of the downsides of marijuana. Heavy use of marijuana is known to reduce sperm count and cause problems. It is also known to reduce the levels of testosterone which can result in the inability to keep an erection. When THC affects the brain to give a euphoric high, it affects other parts of the body as well. Many males have difficulty achieving orgasm when concentration is lost due to euphoria. A study in 2010 shows that daily marijuana use can lead to trouble in achieving orgasm and can cause hormonal imbalance which affects sexual performance.
Marijuana is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction
A 1982 study by Cohen in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs shows that marijuana use prompts erectile dysfunction and a daily user is two times more liable than a non-user. Another study by Aversa et al in 2008 in the International Journal of Impotence Research confirms this. This study explains that regular use of cannabis affects the cells of the corpus cavernosum which produce nitric oxide for erection. Without the cells producing nitric oxide, the smooth muscle cannot relax and without relaxation, there’s no erection.
A more recent study by Pizzo et al in the Journal of Men’s health in December sir 2019 showed the full extent of the effect of marijuana in ED. The study used databases from five-case controlled studies to analyze 3400 men. 1035 of these men used marijuana and others didn’t and they were all analyzed for erectile dysfunction. The result showed that 69.1 percent of the marijuana users had ED while 34.7 percent of non-users had ED. This showed that heavy users of cannabis are two times more likely to have ED compared to non-users.
The reports that affirm that cannabis can cause erectile dysfunction are all with respect to heavy use. This means that the risk of having erectile dysfunction due to marijuana is reduced when it is consumed at a sensible dose. There is still a need for more research on the matter but the early indications are very clear. Excess use of marijuana can be harmful to sexual health so users are advised to exercise caution.
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