Ashley Manta is the Founder of CannaSexual, a portmanteau she created to “describe anyone who mindfully, deliberately combines sex and cannabis.” As you can expect considering the subject matter, Ashley is quite the free-speaking, open-minded woman, and uses her knowledge of the cannabis plant to teach and run pleasure-focused events and educational workshops. We here at Doctor Frank’s are intrigued by all health uses of this wonderful plant, and that includes sexual health! We decided to dive in between the sheets and get chatting to Ashley about the relationship between marijuana and sex …
When and why did you start using cannabis? Do you use it for medicinal purposes?
I started using cannabis when I was in graduate school studying philosophy. At the time, I was living in Pennsylvania, so it was not medicinal and definitely illegal. I wasn’t as aware of the medicinal value of the plant when I was 23 as I am now, but when I moved to California in 2013, I did get a medical cannabis card as I have anxiety, PTSD and migraines. I found marijuana to be incredibly valuable in abating those symptoms.
A lot of people like to separate the “medical” and the “recreational”, often coming at marijuana from a “recreational” angle first. I presume you were suffering from anxiety and PTSD when you started using marijuana “recreationally”?
Yes, I was certainly experiencing those symptoms back then as well, but didn’t make the connection between feeling better and using cannabis. It was kind of like, “I’ve just had a long day and need to relax.” I wasn’t using marijuana mindfully the way I have learned to since moving to a medicinal state and started learning more about the plant.
Why does cannabis and sex go so well together, in your view?
I think that there’s so much shame in our society around sexuality and our bodies. Having something like cannabis that’s so great for relaxation, getting into your body and increasing pleasurable sensations, it makes sense to me to use those two things to enhance one another. I’m all about figuring out where you are sexually, and where you want to be, and really choosing specific products to get you where you want to be.
If it’s pain relief, do you need a topical? If it’s self-consciousness about your body, you might need something to help out with the anxiety. I think there’s so many ways to apply cannabis to your sex life – solo or partnered – to enhance it and make it a more pleasurable experience.
Do you use any particular cannabinoid concentrations to feel sexy?
Yes! Definitely! There are specific strains that I go to, depending upon the kind of sex I want to be having. I always try to caution people that “What works well for me may not work well for other people,” because of individual metabolism and the ways in which people react to particular cannabinoids and terpenes. For instance, if I use Sour Diesel, it makes me anxious, whereas I’ve heard from a lot of other people that Sour Diesel is great for them for sex! It’s energetic and fun for that sort of frenzied, lustful sexual experience.
I tend to go for more mellow and relaxing for a lot of the sex I want to be having, so things like a Blue Dream or a Grand Daddy Purple that are higher in the terpene myrcene. I really like strains that have a little bit of CBD in them, because I get the anxiety. So a strain like Harlequin, which has a 5:2 CBD:THC ratio, which is a really nice “sweet spot” for me.
Are there any particular strains that you’d use for your anxiety and PTSD that you might not necessarily use for sex? Is there a separation between the two.
There is, but it depends on the circumstance. If I’m having a full-on PTSD flair, then I won’t be in the mood for sex. And that’s OK. I can just take care of myself and do something heavier, like a Gorilla Glue. If I’m having a rough day but I want to get in the headspace for sex, I might pick something with more CBD to help with the anxiety, but also some THC to bring my body “online” a bit more.
I always come back to, “What kind of sex do you want to be having?” Are you trying to be more talkative? Then you need a strain that’s gonna make you more talkative.If you want to feel more energetic, then you might want something with pinene in it to make you more alert and focused. If you want something more slow and passionate, I would pick something that’s heavier and has more of a body high.
Do you think cannabis will become the libido-enhancer of the future? Do you see it replacing pills like Viagra and the like?
I think that people will combine cannabis with their sex lives to the extent that they are comfortable. As far as things like Viagra, it’s not a libido-enhancer, but a vasodilator. It brings more blood flow to the penis, so you get an erection, but you might not be in the headspace to have sex. So I really shy away from pedalling anything for the libido, as there are so many facets that go into someone’s sexual arousal.
Circumstances, mood, how much they’ve slept recently, how stressed they are, what their body’s doing, what kind of pain they’re in … All of those things can have an impact, and I think trying to give any substance – even one as miraculous as cannabis – as a “cure-all” is not quite right. There’s room for nuance, and these are the conversations that needs to be ongoing, and not like “Here’s this thing that’ll fix your problems!” That’s my “sex educator” answer!
Have you been involved in any studies, or is it based mainly on your personal experiences?
Yes, this is all based on my own experiences and research. But no, I’ve not been involved in a lot of studies. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of funding for people using marijuana and seeing what the effects of cannabis are on their sex lives! I wish that were the case, and I have plans to study Sociology in a doctoral programme, and I would really love to make this the main focus. But it’s difficult to get any sort of funding for cannabis research, much less one that’s related to sexuality! So it’s all entirely based on anecdata. I suspect that, as we learn more over time, these pieces of advice will be upgraded.
What’s so good about sex whilst stoned?
Speaking from my own experience and what people have shared with me (but speaking for myself first) … I can get “stuck in my head” during sex. “Am I pretty enough? Is my body looking OK? Is my partner attracted to me? Are they having a good time?” All of those “squeaky hamsters” in your brain just, like, making all the noise and cutting down your confidence – I think a lot of people struggle with that, and have shame around their bodies and being fully present during sex. For me, cannabis really helps quiet those voices and really get into my body.
The reason why I started to combine cannabis with sex was because, as a part of my trauma, I have vaginismus, or “pain with penetration”. So it would hurt every time my partner would penetrate me, at least for the first few minutes, which is a really miserable way to start sex! I found a product called “Foria”, which is a THC-infused, coconut-based sex spray. When applied to the vulva, it decreases discomfort and increase pleasure.
That was a game-changer for me. To no have sex hurt for the first time in years made me more receptive to it, more excited about it and feel more empowered whilst doing it, and that sort of lead to my rabbit hole of “canna sexuality”.
Is sex without cannabis less pleasurable for you, then?
It is when the pain of penetration is happening. That is so distracting and takes me out of enjoying my time with my partner. You know, the wincing and the “Ouch” … Even if it’s for a few seconds, I don’t want to associate something painful with something I love so much. So, having the cannabis to really help with that specific symptom was just a really, really huge upgrade to my sex life.
Have you met and talked to people who find that using cannabis reduced their libido? Could you help us explain why cannabis might have this effect?
Oh sure! I’ve met lots of people who have said, “Gosh, I could never have sex after using cannabis. I just want to pass out and go to sleep!” I’ve had people tell me they get really anxious, so sex is the last thing on their minds. That happens. There’s a group of people for whom cannabis doesn’t enhance sex, for whatever reason. It’s not for them, it’s not how they like to interact … That’s fine. I would say there’s probably room for topicals and things that don’t have psychoactive effects so you can get the benefits without the high, but there’s plenty of people who don’t want to mix cannabis and sex. And that’s cool – no problem.
However, there are also a subset of people that have been kind of haphazardly combining sex with cannabis, where they just get stoned and then have sex, or they eat an edible and have sex a few hours later when they’re completely wrecked, or they use a strain that’s way too heavy and just gives them couchlock, so they don’t feel like having sex any more. So I think there’s a large group of folks who don’t know what cannabis products to choose to combine with sex to make it awesome. That is usually more of an issue than whether or not the terpenoids or cannabinoids have aphrodisiac qualities They’re just not being used to their fullest potential.
Are there any particular terpenoids or cannabinoids you’ve found that have aphrodisiac qualities?
I can’t speak across the board, as everyone’s different. I like limonene. It’s that beautiful, citrusy smell that elevates your mood and relieves stress, and those two things set the stage for great sex. Elevated mood and less stress – those are two pretty important components of a fun, sexy time.
I’m such a fan of CBD with sex. All those folks who are, “I can’t be high, I don’t want to be high. I don’t want to have the experience of feeling out of control.” CBD – whole plant extracted CBD in particular – is my answer to that. Having like a 5:2 or even something like a 17:1 or 20:1 of CBD to THC – even if you just have a teeny bit of THC to get the Entourage Effect – is great for calming you down. It can help you feel present and good in your body.
We actually carried on with this conversation, but we thought it may be a little bit too hot for the delicate sensibilities of our readers. We highly recommend you join in with our likely-to-be-somewhat-risqué chat on Wednesday 26 July at 6 pm PST on Facebook Live or UBN Radio. Those suffering from high blood pressure may want to stock up on their CBD prior to listening to the show!