23 February 2011

Hard evidence on cannabis use and erectile dysfunction

by Kate Melville

Cannabis and its effects on the brain are relatively well understood, but new research suggests that cannabis receptors also exist in the penis. The antagonizing effect of the drug on these receptors may make it more difficult for a man to achieve and maintain an erection, suggests the study. The research is set to appear in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The study notes that cannabis is the most widely-used illicit drug globally and that many young, sexually active people use it in the belief it will enhance their sexual experience.

In the past, studies examining the effects of cannabis on male sexual function have been limited and the results have often been contradictory. While some researchers claimed cannabis could have beneficial effects in enhancing erectile function, other studies have found the opposite.

Author of the new study, Queen's University's Rany Shamloul, explained that recent animal and in vitro studies have identified new negative connections between cannabis use and sexual dysfunction that may put an end to previous controversy. "It's now believed that these [cannabis] receptors also exist in the penis. Cannabis use may have an antagonizing effect on these receptors," he explained. "These findings will change the current understanding of the magnitude of the impact of cannabis use on sexual health."

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Study links penis size to general health
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Source: Queen's University