At least forty percent of American seniors maintain active sex lives, according to a new survey from the University of Michigen, and 61 percent of them say that it’s critical to their quality of life. What the poll doesn’t mention? Many seniors have begun using cannabis to boost their sexual satisfaction.
Researchers have found that seniors are the fastest growing group of cannabis consumers in America today. Though this might come as a surprise to many, it’s understandable when you consider the fact that the vast majority of seniors are living with health complaints that require complex cocktails of medications, and even more medications simply to offset the side effects. Medical marijuana, by contrast, offers a more natural treatment option — a 2016 study from Health Affairs found that more and more seniors are choosing cannabis over more traditional drugs.
Some of the reasons that seniors are using cannabis are intuitive — for example, to relieve inflammation from arthritis or to soothe lower back pain. However, just as younger Americans have turned to cannabis to boost their libidos, a growing number of seniors are also exploring what the plant can do for them in the bedroom.
“Cannabis is useful for seniors, because it addresses the common things that get in the way of intimacy,” sex educator and coach Ashley Manta recently told Forbes. “For folks whose bodies are aging, one of the more common things is pain. Whether from arthritis, stiffness or an injury, pain can be very distracting when it comes to pleasure.” She recommends cannabis topicals to help reduce this discomfort, since they don’t cause a high or “make you feel like a zombie.”
She also believes cannabis can help soothe anxiety or insecurity about body image. “If you’re worried about wrinkles or stretch marks or scars … of course that’s going to distract you from being able to enjoy yourself.” According to Manta, a “controlled dose of cannabis” is helpful for relieving these concerns.
Manta also suggests that cannabis intimate oils could be helpful for women experiencing vaginal dryness, which is common after menopause. When used well in advance (she recommends applying it around a half hour before intimacy), she says it acts as a “marinade” that makes sex more enjoyable.
Despite this glowing endorsement, the relationship between cannabis and sex is a complicated one. While there is evidence to suggest that cannabis could help seniors with sex, there’s also evidence that it could hinder them as they try to remain sexually acitve.
For example, a 2011 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that cannabis could cause or aggravate erectile dysfunction, a problem facing around 15 percent of men at age 70. And researchers at La Trobe University conducted a survey of 8,656 Australian men and found that those who used cannabis daily were three times more likely to experience premature ejaculation.
Like much of the research into cannabis and its effects on the body, scientists haven’t been able to reach hard and fast conclusions just yet. This doesn’t mean that cannabis isn’t helpful to seniors having sex, but just that the picture isn’t quite as clear as advocates such as Manta would have you believe.
While researchers continue to investigate the impacts of the drug and the countless potential applications it could have in our day to day lives, the American people are embracing it wholeheartedly, and seniors are no exception.