Recent years have seen CBD explode in popularity within the wellness industry, and the list of its potential health benefits seems to have expanded more and more to match as new evidence comes to light. Now CBD is even starting to garner attention within the sexual wellbeing sector – in particular, many are now claiming that CBD may provide an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction.
Research on the exact relationship between CBD and sexual health remains fairly limited, so it’s unclear as of yet how exactly CBD helps to treat erectile dysfunction. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that it may be a fairly effective alternative option to other medications like Viagra.
This guide will cover the science behind CBD and erectile dysfunction, how to use CBD to treat it, and which CBD products may be the most effective.
What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is a fairly common problem for men, especially as they get older. One study from 2018 estimated that roughly 33% of men are affected by ED, illustrating just how common this type of sexual dysfunction is.
The main symptom of ED is difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection. In some cases, this may also be accompanied by a loss of libido. It’s worth noting that isolated incidents are usually nothing to worry about – you only need to think about seeking treatment if the problems persist over a longer timeframe.
Erectile dysfunction can be caused by both psychological and physical issues. On the physical side of things, ED is caused by restricted blood flow to the penis, which in turn can be a result of health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and hormone imbalances, or side effects from prescription medication. Other physical factors include chronic pain or other injuries which may cause discomfort during sex.
The psychological causes of ED center around mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. These issues can lead to hormonal imbalances which make it more difficult to be aroused. One particularly common factor is performance anxiety, which is a form of persistent anxiety over sexual performance leading to an inability to get aroused.
Can CBD help in treating erectile dysfunction?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is reported to have a wide range of potential health benefits, including reducing anxiety, facilitating better sleep, and relieving chronic pain. Unfortunately, there’s currently very little research into whether CBD is an effective treatment for erectile dysfunction.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that it can be effective for some users though, and studies into the other potential health benefits have helped to develop theories as to how it may help to tackle ED.
A number of studies have reported that CBD has potential anxiolytic effects, meaning it can help to reduce anxiety and promote feelings of calm and relaxation. This means that people with erectile dysfunction stemming from anxiety may be able to use CBD to reduce their anxiety and reduce the symptoms of ED as a result.
CBD, along with other cannabinoids such as THC, may have analgesic (pain-relieving) properties according to some studies. For ED sufferers who find that the problem stems from chronic pain or other pain and discomfort during sex, this means that CBD may be able to help provide pain relief and indirectly treat ED as a result.
Increase blood flow
Some research has reported that CBD can aid in vasodilation, the widening of blood vessels to increase blood flow. CBD’s potential as a vasodilator may help to tackle ED by allowing better blood flow to the penis, making it easier to get and maintain an erection.
Erectile dysfunction can stem from a variety of health issues related to obesity, such as cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes. As such, ED sufferers may be able to alleviate the issue by losing weight. Certain studies have found that CBD may reduce appetite, which may make it easier to lose weight as part of a wider weight loss regime.
However, it should be noted that most studies into CBD and appetite have been preclinical animal studies, not human trials, so its effects on human appetite are slightly unclear. This is complicated by anecdotal evidence suggesting that CBD can cause the “munchies”, an increase in appetite characteristic of many cannabis products.
How to use CBD for erectile dysfunction
CBD comes in a number of forms, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. As well as standard CBD oils, tinctures, vapes and edibles, some CBD products have been designed specifically with sexual health in mind, which may be useful to those with ED looking to experiment with CBD as a treatment.
Some options include:
- CBD massage oils – like CBD creams and lotions, these work by allowing CBD to be absorbed through the skin. These are convenient for use in treating ED as they can easily be worked into foreplay.
- CBD topicals – topicals are designed to be applied to a specific area to focus on the effects on a certain part of the body. In this case, CBD topicals can be applied to the penis in order to focus CBD’s potential vasodilatory effects, stimulate blood flow and help maintain an erection.
- Lubricant – similarly to CBD topicals, CBD lube can be applied directly to the penis to focus its effects there. Lubes are helpful if your partner wants to share in the sensations that CBD may stimulate; however, use them with caution as they may not be latex friendly and therefore may damage condoms.
- Edibles – if you want to experiment with CBD as an ED treatment more discreetly, edibles are a good option. The effects of CBD can take a while to kick in if ingested as an edible, however, so they may not be as convenient when it comes to spontaneity.
- Micro-dosing – this involves taking small amounts of CBD throughout the day in order to deliver a more prolonged or sustained effect. Tinctures may be the best for this, as they allow extremely accurate dosing.
How to choose the right type of CBD
Different types of CBD may be more effective than others when it comes to treating erectile dysfunction. There are three main categories of CBD which have different properties based on their contents. These are:
- Full spectrum – these CBD products contain the full range of compounds found in the cannabis plant they’re extracted from. Most significantly, this includes THC, the psychoactive compound which gives weed its signature high.
- Broad Spectrum – these products include all the additional cannabis compounds alongside CBD, but removes any THC content to avoid any risk of intoxicating effects.
- CBD Isolate – this is essentially pure CBD – all other cannabis compounds are removed. This may lose the benefits associated with other compounds like terpenes but may be easier to stomach for new users as the taste is more subtle.
The distinction between these three types of CBD is important, as the lack of data on the relationship between erectile dysfunction and CBD makes it hard to gauge whether any anecdotal benefits stem from CBD itself or from other compounds from cannabis plants which are also present in the product.
Because of this, it may be worth experimenting with different types of CBD to see which delivers the best results.
Are there any drawbacks or side effects?
In general, CBD is seen as being fairly well-tolerated by humans, with few adverse side effects for the most part. However, it affects different people in different ways and can lead to a few mild side effects, such as:
- A dry mouth
- Stomach upset or nausea
- Reddened eyes
- Reduced appetite
Some research has also suggested that CBD may have effects on fertility. CBD has been linked to decreases in sperm development, impacts on the ovulation cycle, and decreases in certain fertility-regulating hormones. As with other CBD research, the effects on fertility are inconclusive, but it’s best to exercise caution and consult a health professional before using CBD if fertility is a concern.
In addition, you should get medical advice before using CBD if you take any other prescription medications, as CBD may have adverse interactions with certain medicines.
The bottom line: can CBD treat erectile dysfunction?
Sadly, there’s currently no definitive answer to this question due to the lack of clinical studies into the effects of CBD products on erectile dysfunction. However, research into the other possible health benefits of CBD has shown promising results in potentially tackling some of the causes and symptoms of ED even if it hasn’t been proven to treat the condition directly.
As a result, it may be worth experimenting with CBD as a possible alternative to other treatment options for erectile dysfunction by potentially reducing anxiety, easing pain or discomfort, or stimulating blood flow.