CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural botanical compound found in both the hemp plant and marijuana. Hemp-based CBD contains less than .3% of THC, which is the psychoactive element in marijuana. Since the passage of The 2018 US Farm Bill, CBD can be legally grown and sold in all fifty states, with some restrictions for Idaho and Iowa. While the FDA has not yet approved any claims about the benefits or risks of CBD, they promise to publish comments in the near future. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization has pronounced CBD to be “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile and no known public health risks”.
CBD is an anti-inflammatory that works with our body’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for keeping us biologically balanced and at homeostasis. Surveys by the Brightfield Group show almost forty million Americans regularly use CBD, including some 20 million who use it for anxiety and stress. This is significant for an LGBTQ+ community, which endures stress and anxiety levels up to 2.5x greater than the general population as society catches up with how to affirm, support, and resource us. CBD has enjoyed explosive organic grass roots growth over the past few years, despite the FDA constraints on advertising and messaging claims.
As a queer sex therapist who works with both individuals and couples, I have been especially excited to personally and professionally witness CBD’s benefits in enhancing sexual wellness within our community. One of the more common complaints with which clients approach me is a “desire discrepancy” in their relationships; one partner wants to engage in sexual activity significantly more often than another partner. While at times this discrepancy is rooted in underlying medical concerns or medication side effects, I frequently see the issue traced back to partner experiences of stress and anxiety.
Great sex is fostered by letting go, relaxation and presence – all things that become challenging with higher levels of stress and anxiety. If anxiety interferes with your sex life, CBD in the form of gummies, softgels or tinctures is a possible low cost, non-prescription option. In fact, in the study noted above, over 40% of CBD users were able to (with the help of their doctors) titrate off of prescription medications for anxiety. CBD can help alleviate stress and promote a more relaxed headspace that sets the tone for enjoyment and pleasure. CBD works incrementally over time, so benefits amplify as one selects a regimen that works and includes it in their routine.
We also have better sex when we are well rested; think about how many times you or a partner have been too tired to be sexually intimate! When I have difficulty sleeping, I love taking a CBD softgel that includes a small dose of melatonin, a naturally acting sleep-aid. In advising and using products from Out & About CBD (outandaboutcbd.com), I’ve seen the ways in which they are dedicated to enhancing wellness specifically within the LGBTQ+ community. I also love knowing that with every product I purchase, 5% of proceeds go to The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization working to promote mental health in our community. Out & About CBD also keeps their products affordable; I spend less than $40 on a 30 day supply.
My absolute favorite way to introduce CBD into folks’ sex lives is lubrication! I love that this combines two products that are created to help our bodies relax and find greater pleasure. Lubricants offer a wide range of benefits, including helping with vaginal dryness, facilitating sex with toys, easing discomfort, and increasing pleasure. Furthermore, it appears that CBD is adding incremental benefits to traditional lubricants. A water-based CBD lube, for example, can create a more relaxing environment, reduce inflammation, decrease pain, and enhance pleasurable sensations by stimulating circulation.
CBD offers a natural plant-based, lower cost wellness option to prescription drugs without significant side effects, and these benefits extend to areas of relationship and sexual wellness. CBD has played a key role in my personal, professional, and sexual self-care, and I know I am not alone in these experiences. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and share how CBD has improved balance, sensuality, and sex in your life!
Casey Tanner MA. LCPC
Clinical Director Practical Audacity
Issue Advisor Out & About CBD