Cannabis culture has significantly evolved over the last few years, most notably, when it comes to the gender gap. A thriving community of female consumers has emerged, with many vocalizing the incredible self-care benefits of the plant, especially its impact on sexual wellness.
Research shows that 30% of women experience pain during vaginal sex, and “large proportions” don’t express discomfort to their partners. Furthermore, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 in 5 women will fall victim to rape at one point in their lives. To that end, 81% report short-term or long-term ramifications, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which deeply affect sexual health.
So how does cannabis come into play?
While there are no conclusive studies demystifying the exact physiological effects in the context of sex, there are compelling first-hand testimonials and solid hypotheses. What we do know for sure: cannabis is a vasodilator, meaning it increases blood flow, which affects the cannabinoid receptors in the skin and nerve pathways. It can reduce inflammation and relax muscles, presumably including those found in the vagina. Cannabis is also effective for stress and anxiety management.
Sex-positive educator and coach, Ashley Manta – also known as the CannaSexual® – says the synergy between sex and cannabis is powerful. The plant can be a source of comfort and healing for women who experience pain and/or are grappling with trauma. Manta, a survivor of sexual abuse herself, uses cannabis as a tool to be present, relaxed and fulfilled.
We recently chatted with “the high priestess of pleasure” to learn more about safely incorporating weed into your routine.
Take us through your personal journey with cannabis.
I was a child of DARE culture (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), meaning I had negative associations with cannabis from an early age. It took going to grad school and meeting people in my program who consumed cannabis (as well as professors) to convince me it was okay. I experienced pain with penetration for most of my adult life as a result of sexual trauma, and using Foria’s THC sex oil, Pleasure, allowed me to have penetrative sex without pain for the first time. It was a revelation. With that, I wanted to create a space for people to talk about sex and cannabis from a positive and trauma-informed perspective.
Many women suffer from painful conditions and mental health issues, which prevent physical pleasure. How exactly does cannabis help one cope and mend?
Cannabis is a tool that can be used in many different ways for a variety of concerns. I think of it as something that helps address factors getting in the way of pleasure, connection and intimacy: shame, anxiety, pain, discomfort, lack of creativity, feeling disconnected from your body, and so on. It depends on what you use and how you use it, but there’s really something for everyone, whether you’re comfortable getting high or not.
Cannabis helped me with both my vaginismus (pain with penetration) as well as my tendency to dissociate from my body during sex. It helped me feel present and engaged, with heightened pleasure and decreased painful sensations. Many women have also shared that having CBD-rich cultivars and products help them immeasurably with feeling comfortable enough to enjoy their experience.
What’s your advice to women considering using weed to improve their sexual health?
Try it on your own first! The best thing to do when you get a new strain or product is to try a bit on your own, masturbate, and notice the effects. Are you more present, or more easily distracted? Are your senses heightened or dulled? Are you engaged in your fantasy, or are you fighting the munchies? This is all excellent data to gather before combining cannabis with partnered sex.
What are your go-to cannabis products for solo and partnered play?
Foria Awaken and Pleasure are great for solo and partnered play for people with vulvas. Just apply one or the other (or my personal favourite, BOTH) to the clitoris, inner labia, and vaginal opening, wait 25 minutes, and enjoy. Kush Queens bath bombs are also fantastic for helping your body feel relaxed and malleable before sexy times. I love Velvet Swing for people who use latex barriers, because it’s compatible with latex condoms, while oil is not. For those using oil, you need to add a nitrile or polyurethane barrier for safer sex. I also really love Foria’s FLOW pen, which is a hemp-CBD vape. It’s great for quieting the mind and becoming more present.
What is your top “Manta mantra”?
Negotiate before you medicate! Have a conversation with your partner about what you want, any boundaries you may have, what types of products you’ll be consuming, desired effects, and most importantly, how to tell if you’re in some kind of distress (and how to support you through that).