Chronic illness and its symptoms, along with the negative side effects of prescription medications, can put a real strain on relationships. Some medicine causes changes in mood and behavior, affects motivation, decreases sexual drive and satisfaction, and affects daily function. Using medical marijuana in addition to or in place of prescription drugs can positively affect how we interact with those we love. Take our 5-minute eligibility survey to see if you pre-qualify to become an MMJ patient, and discuss how and when to use it effectively with one of our Florida Medical Marijuana Doctors.
Prescription medication can be beneficial to patients with chronic health conditions, but sometimes these drugs can cause stress and interfere with our ability to maintain close relationships with our significant others. Some side effects are physical in nature, while others influence our mood, how we see ourselves, and our desire for physical or sexual intimacy. The list that follows addresses just a few of the numerous medications used to treat long-term illness and some of their consequences.
- Patients taking opioids for chronic pain often experience a decrease in sex drive caused by a decrease in hormones produced in the pituitary gland as well as the male and female sex organs. Drugs like oxycontin, morphine, fentanyl and methadone can also cause patients to report less interest or enjoyment related to sexual intimacy. Symptoms may include erectile dysfunction, fatigue, and hot flashes in men as well as menstrual irregularities in women. (1)
- Antidepressants can cause a decrease in sexual desire; loss of sensation and desire; diminished or delayed orgasm; persistent arousal; numbness of the nipples and vagina in women as well as milk production not related to pregnancy or breastfeeding; and painful ejaculation or erectile dysfunction in men. (2) Some medications can also cause a decrease in or loss of a feeling of romantic love and a lack of attachment to one’s partner. Up to 73% of patients taking SSRI drugs for depression suffer from a lack of sexual desire. (3)
- Anti-seizure medications may decrease sexual drive, desire, arousal, and response; cause erectile dysfunction in men; decrease natural lubrication in women; result in difficulty reaching orgasm in both men and women; cause an increase in fatigue that interferes with intimacy; certain categories of these medications cause physical changes like increased body hair due to altered hormone production or, in the case of Dilantin, gum overgrowth. Some of these cosmetic alterations can affect the patient’s self-esteem and affect their intimate relationships as well. (4)
- Chemotherapy, anti-hormone medications, and radiation often cause negative effects on the body. Chemo can cause damage and dryness to the body’s mucus membranes, which include the vagina and penis. Anti-hormone medicines lead to hot flashes and irritability. Radiation may cause skin burns, damage the ovaries and destroy sperm. All three forms of treatment also reduce blood flow, which leads to decreased sensation throughout the body. In addition, changes to the body due to surgical intervention can significantly affect whether or not a patient sees themselves as attractive and desirable to their partner. (5)
Marijuana and Sex
Marijuana helps lessen anxiety related to everyday stressors and health problems. It also lowers inhibitions, increases sexual desire, and enhances sensitivity to touch and texture. This, in turn, can help partners be more relaxed around each other, which creates a positive environment for emotional and physical intimacy. Patients with self-esteem issues may find it allows them to feel more confident and less self-conscious with their partner. 68-72% of women in one study who consumed cannabis before sex reported an increased sex drive, a more pleasurable orgasm, and a better overall sexual experience. CBD’s well-known pain-relieving benefits have proven effective in helping women who suffer from pain during intercourse have a more positive and pleasant experience. (6) Moderate marijuana use among men with erectile dysfunction can ease performance anxiety and help them relax, which can lead to the ability to sustain an erection. (7)
Marijuana Use and Domestic Violence
A study published in 2014 found that regular marijuana use decreases the incidence of domestic violence between heterosexual intimate partners. This may be due to several contributing factors including the following:
- Marijuana is a mood enhancer, which may decrease conflict and aggression.
- It tempers emotional reactions, lowering the possibility of aggressive behavior.
These results applied not only to couples who both used marijuana, but also in situations where only one partner was a consumer.
It is important to note that among women who initiated domestic violence before marriage, consuming marijuana may not lower the chances they will continue to abuse their partners. (8)
Marijuana and Communication Between Partners
When both partners in a relationship consume marijuana, the process itself can become a calming ritual they look forward to. This can help couples in all stages of life have a more fulfilling, happy relationship with each other. It is a way to relax and unwind after a long day at work. Sharing a joint or enjoying an edible together while watching the sunset can make even an evening at home special and create a feeling of intimacy. (9)
Couples who use marijuana together often find they are more relaxed and able to communicate with each other. Sharing and consuming marijuana allows partners time to talk about things they may not otherwise discuss. The general feeling of well-being they enjoy can lead to less difficulty talking about subjects that might otherwise cause conflict. Partners who consume marijuana together often find they enjoy sharing food when the munchies strike, taking walks to enjoy nature, watching a funny movie, laughing together, spending time with friends, or just hanging out with each other. These activities can strengthen their bond and deepen their relationship as well as increasing trust and openness. (10)
The stress of chronic illness takes a toll on even the best relationships. Medications and physical concerns can affect communication, intimacy, and how partners interact with each other in day to day life. Medical marijuana use can provide relief of symptoms, alleviate stress, increase sexual enjoyment, and give both partners a more positive outlook on life.