An occasional problem with keeping an erection is not usually a reason to be alarmed. If it seems to be an ongoing problem, however, there may be an underlying cause that should be investigated.
There is a lot of debate about marijuana and its effect on sexual health. For some men, it does seem to be linked to ED.
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In the United States, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2015 more than 11 million people between 18-25 used marijuana in the previous year, making marijuana the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States.
Marijuana is composed of the dried leaves, flowers, seeds, and stems from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.
It contains a variety of different chemicals, including a group known as cannabinoids. The best known of these is the chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is the one that seems to have the biggest effect on the body.
People smoke marijuana in hand-rolled cigarettes called joints, in pipes or water pipes. Blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied and filled with marijuana, are yet another method people use to smoke marijuana.
People who do not want to inhale marijuana smoke can use vaporizers. Marijuana can also be mixed in food, such as brownies or cookies, or brewed as in a tea.
Marijuana and ED
Smoking tobacco has been linked to ED because it restricts blood flow to the veins and arteries. Those who smoke cigarettes are more likely to develop ED and it may be the same for those who smoke marijuana.
It is important to note that some marijuana can contain more harmful chemicals than cigarettes, increasing the chance of adverse effects.
Cannabinoid receptors are present in the smooth muscle penile tissue and so it is possible for the THC to impair penile function. In some men, this can lead to ED.
Marijuana can cause euphoria followed by drowsiness and slowed reaction time. Some men may have no desire for sex after smoking marijuana.
Marijuana increases the levels of a chemical called dopamine in the body. Dopamine is a hormone that can affect mood and feeling. If a man gets used to these artificially high levels of dopamine, then he may find that his body's natural level of dopamine may not be enough to stimulate him sexually, making it difficult for him to obtain an erection.
Effects on the body
An altered sense of time as well as changes in mood may be effects of marijuana.
Many people feel pleasant after smoking marijuana, but that is not a feeling shared by all users. To understand why marijuana may cause ED, it is important to understand exactly how it affects the body.
Marijuana affects the brain. When it is smoked, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, where it is carried to the brain and other organs throughout the body. THC is absorbed more slowly when the person eats or drinks it.
Due to a similarity in structure, THC can attach itself to, and activate, certain molecules that normally react to natural THC-like chemicals. One of these is anandamide, known as the "bliss molecule."
Because the body recognizes THC, various mental and physical functions are disrupted, including the brain's reward system. This system manages responses to pleasurable activities, such as sex.
THC signals the body to release dopamine at higher levels than usual. Dopamine has an effect on mood and feeling in the body. This is the reason why people feel "high" after consuming the drug.
Other effects of marijuana include:
- changed senses
- changed sense of time
- changes in mood
- impaired body movement
- difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
- impaired memory
Marijuana and medications
Medical marijuana and its impact continue to be a hot topic and debates rage on about its effectiveness.
Marijuana can interfere with other medications, and so in addition to ED, it is important to understand the unseen dangers.
Marijuana may interfere with certain drugs, such as:
- aspirin, blood thinners
- diabetes medicine
- blood pressure medicine
- anabolic steroids
- anticancer herbs and supplements
Marijuana can affect the risk of bleeding, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and the levels of drowsiness caused by some drugs.
The amount of marijuana that is consumed plays a role in the development of ED. Men who regularly smoke put themselves at an increased risk of developing the condition.
At present, not enough is known about the relationship between marijuana and ED. Some men find that marijuana negatively affects their sexual ability, while others say that marijuana actually increases their sexual arousal.
Marijuana is a drug, so addiction is always a danger. People should only use marijuana under the care of a doctor.