Everybody’s favorite green plant can help disabled people and those with chronic pain find intimacy with the comfort and pleasure they deserve.
By Mari “Dev” Ramsawakh
I’m a disabled person who deals with chronic pain. I also love sex. What I don’t love is pain, but it’s something that I have to endure every day. It’s something that has interfered with, among many other aspects of my life, my sexuality.
My current pain management system mostly revolves around medicinal cannabis. I use it to manage my pain, anxiety, appetite, and even my mood to some extent. It’s something I need to use because pills can be more dangerous long-term because of the likelihood of exacerbating future kidney problems.
If you’re experiencing chronic pain and struggling to maintain sexual intimacy with a partner or even yourself, using cannabis might be a solution for you as well. So what do you need to know?
If You’re Green to The Green
Cannabis is an intoxicating substance, so combining it with sex isn’t something that should be taken too lightly. If you’re new to cannabis, it’s best not to start in the bedroom. Nothing can spoil the mood quite like finding out you don’t enjoy being high. Or worse, realizing that you can’t focus on what you’re doing.
You need to understand how you respond to it, what your limits are, and the best methods for your needs. For example, I mainly use the dry flower because of the ease of access and it is by far the most effective method based on how my body responds to it. However, there are other options to be considered like topicals, vaporizers, edibles and more.
If you’re looking to avoid the psychoactive effects (the feeling of “getting high”) then you can also look into CBD only products and strains. The benefits of CBD vary from that of THC so finding what works for you is, again, key here.
The Highs To Look Forward To
Now for the specifics. I specifically use medicinal cannabis to treat inflammation in my joints, nausea from pain, and neuropathic pain in general. There have been times when the inflammation specifically has made having sex difficult. I had the chance to try out some topicals a few years ago and I was impressed with how effective it was.
I had my then-partner rub the topicals into my affected joints as part of our play, as if he was giving me a massage. It was sensual and intimate, and about 30 minutes later, I wasn’t even thinking about my joints at all and was able to fully immerse myself into the experience.
Topicals can be a bit on the pricier side making them inaccessible, noted Shari Dillon, a disabled community member that I spoke with. But even smoking, or vaporizing, the dry flowers can be beneficial.
“It helps me move around a little more freely,” wrote Dillon, who only uses the dry flower. “I have a neuroimmune disease called ME [myalgic encephalomyelitis] which has made me weaker and atrophied my muscles.”
I have also found that cannabis impacts my sex drive. When I’ve been in pain for days, I can sometimes forget sex is even a thing. But usually, after smoking, I can be more present in my body and start feeling desire again. And this is something that other folks have experienced as well. It can also improve my mood and anxiety, allowing me to come out of depressive episodes enough to feel aroused and help relax muscles so sex becomes more enjoyable.
For some, pain during sex can come from not producing enough lubricant naturally. Cannabis experts claim that CBD can activate the cannabinoid receptors in sexual organs to help produce more lubrication naturally. You’d have to medicate at least half an hour before you expect to have sex.
There are even medicated lubes you can use, but you still need to prepare prior. These medicated lubes can also help with pain from tense vaginal muscles that can make penetration painful and difficult.
The Shake on The Concerns
As with any medication, there are side effects. And common side effects from cannabis, like dry mouth and eyes, can affect other body parts too. The first time I had sex while using cannabis, I dried out so much that the condom actually broke at one point and we had to stop to change condoms. Fortunately, a simple solution to that would be just to make sure that you have lube on hand and you’re paying attention to your body.
Not all strains and products will have the same side effects, so you may not always anticipate how a new one might affect you. Some strains can cause drowsiness, which can kill the mood as Dillon experienced. Others can make you very energetic.
Some people can have adverse reactions to cannabis due to other conditions or medications they may be on. Some people can experience episodes of psychosis and for others, it can actually worsen their depression over time. Because the social acceptance of cannabis is so new in the colonized Western world, there is still very little evidence-based research to understand the long-term effects of cannabis.
Whether cannabis becomes a regular part of your sex life, or you decide it’s not for you, it’s important to remember that you and your relationships aren’t defined by how much sex you do or don’t have, or want to have.
“We have sex very infrequently because one of us is almost always too tired or in too much pain. But I have never been closer to anyone, or happier in a relationship. We’re best friends,” wrote Dillon. “We understand and respect each other’s physical limitations, and when we are able to make love, it’s usually magical because it’s been so long.”
If you’re still interested in trying to introduce cannabis into your sex life, there are medical marijuana clinics in the US and Canada that can be accessed if you qualify (although criteria varies region to region) where medical professionals can offer you advice specific to your own health needs. While it won’t cure your ailments, it can offer the pain relief and relaxation that will allow you to be present in the moment and seek the pleasure you’re after.
Mari “Dev” Ramsawakh is a disabled and nonbinary freelance writer, podcaster, and creator. They have been published on CBC, Leafly, Bitch Media, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other publications and they were also the 2019 TVO Short Docs Contest winner. More about their work can be found on their website IndivisibleWriting.com or follow them on Twitter @merkyywaters.