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Marijuana Erectile Dysfunction

Marijuana Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction refers to an inability to have and maintain an erection firm enough for sex.

A variety of medical and mental health conditions can trigger erectile dysfunction (ED), as can certain lifestyle choices, including the use of some recreational drugs.

The medical community has not found conclusive evidence that using cannabis, or marijuana, leads to ED.

However, specific effects of the drug may result in ED, and a person who smokes a mixture of marijuana and tobacco may have an increased risk.

More than you ever wanted to know about erections

Before discussing cannabis, let's do a quick overview of the science of erections.

An erection results from the relaxation of the smooth muscle of the corpus cavernosum in the penis. Basically, the relaxation of the smooth muscle increases blood flow, causing an erection. Conversely, preventing the smooth muscle from relaxing causes ED. That's why drugs like Viagra work by enhancing the muscle's relaxation and prolonging erections. (Brace yourself: there are way more unintentional puns coming your way.)

A chain of events must occur before that smooth muscle relaxes. First, cells in the penis receive sensory input from sexual stimulation or from signals originating in the brain. Activation of these cells causes the production of a gas called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide acts as a signalling messenger to a variety of targets - including the enzyme cGMP, which has to be activated before an erection can occur. When nitric oxide production stops, the cGMP enzyme inactivates, the smooth muscle stops relaxing, and the erection goes away

Marijuana

Marijuana comes from the leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the Cannabis sativa hemp plant. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana’s main chemical is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It also has over 100 related chemicals known as cannabinoids.

Short-term marijuana effects include altered senses, altered sense of time, mood changes, impaired movements, difficulty thinking, and memory issues. Taken over the long term, marijuana may affect brain development and learning.

Many states legalized marijuana for medical use. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved it for any medical condition. Conditions eligible for medical marijuana vary by state, and may include:

  • cancer
  • glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • hepatitis C
  • pain
  • wasting diseases
  • nausea
  • seizures and epilepsy
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Medical marijuana is not approved for ED. Some states allow marijuana use for conditions not on the approved list, if your doctor identifies them as debilitating.

Marijuana is smoked in hand-rolled cigarettes (joints) or inhaled through pipes (bongs). Some people make marijuana tea or mix it into baked goods such as cookies, brownies, and candy.

Marijuana is often associated with side effects that may affect sexual health.

Marijuana and Other Medications

Marijuana may cause dangerous drug interactions that include the following:

  • It may interfere with blood thinners and increase bleeding risk. Use with caution if you take blood thinners such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), warfarin (Coumadin), and naproxen (Aleve).
  • It may affect blood sugar levels. Use with caution if you take medications that affect blood sugar such as insulin.
  • It may lower blood pressure. Be careful if you take blood pressure medications.
  • It may increase drowsiness when taken with drugs that cause drowsiness, such as Ativan and Valium.

Taking Viagra with marijuana may not be a smart move. A paper published in Clinical Cardiology showed that marijuana prevents Viagra from being properly metabolized, which increases its effects. This can mean an increased risk of heart problems.

Other drug interactions are possible. If you use marijuana, tell your doctor before taking any prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

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