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I tried it: CBD for sexual wellness

Initially, CBD lubricant was marketed to women as an aid to relax pelvic muscles. (According to a 2015 study, about 30 percent of women reported experiencing pain during their most recent sexual event.) However, its promises transcend pain-relief and gender barriers; It’s also designed to increase pleasure for both sexes. “There are so many cannabinoid receptors in reproductive organs and sexual tissue,” says Equinox Health Advisory Board member Pamela Peeke, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. “CBD increases blood flow [to those areas], which enhances sensitivity and promotes the body’s own natural lubrication.”

With this in mind, I decided to try two products out for myself. Both are coconut oil-based. It’s a fact that oil-based lubes aren’t safe to use with latex condoms. Lubricating with coconut oil is a larger, more contested debate within the medical community. “Coconut oil is antibacterial and antifungal, so there’s a chance that it could disrupt your vagina’s natural pH balance,” says Peeke. If you’re prone to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis, best to play it safe and seek out the handful of aloe-based options on the market, like Quim Rock’s Oh Yes! Latex Safe Serum

Recurring infections aren’t an issue for me, nor am I using a latex condom, so in the name of journalism I elected to try it.

The product: Quim Rock’s Night Moves

The promise: This lube has just five ingredients: MCT oil (a derivative of coconut oil), cannabis (both CBD and THC), tea tree oil, and damiana, a medicinal shrub that primarily grows in Mexico and Central America and has historically been used to increase sexual arousal. 

The review: Compared with other products I’ve used in the past, Night Moves had a less obtrusive scent and a thicker viscosity. I used far less than the recommended 8 to 10 pumps, and found it was more than enough. This particular blend does include a small amount of THC, which wasn’t at all perceptible when used topically. (For the sake of experimenting, both myself and my partner tried ingesting a few drops under the tongue—the company says it’s safe to ingest—I thought I felt a little high, though this may have been psychosomatic.) I can confirm a tingling sensation that enhanced the indirect pressure of missionary position, and I got way closer to finishing than I typically do during penetrative sex. My partner also had to slow down a few times in order to delay finishing, which isn’t the norm for him.

The product: Foria’s Awaken

The promise: Coconut-based oils are ideal for external—read: clitoral—stimulation. They’re also generally safe with silicone, so you can use them with a vibrator. Unlike Night Moves, this one features broad-spectrum CBD, an extract of cannabis without THC, along with kava root, and a blend of aphrodisiac oils that work synergistically with cannabis, the company says. (When you come across a longer ingredient list, look closer and evaluate your sensitivity level to each one. Some oils, like peppermint or L-arginine, have stimulant effects that may lead to unexpected tingling or other physically intense effects.)

The review:  Most lube heats up gradually, during foreplay, due to localized blood flow, but Awaken warmed on contact right away. It’s also worth noting that if your clitoris is already hypersensitive to direct stimulation, the sensory enhancement of Awaken could be too overwhelming. Personally, I found the enhanced sensitivity pretty awesome, and it could be a game-changer for women who prefer the highest setting on their vibrator.

The bottom line:

The CBD sexual wellness market is expanding rapidly—Quim Rock just came out with a lube called Smooth Operator, a latex-safe serum. There’s also GoLove, a water-based CBD product which launched in mid-November. Unfortunately, bunk CBD products have also flooded the market, and it’s key to be an educated consumer. Check for a QR code on the packaging that links to a certificate of analysis. And if you're interested in more natural lubes without CBD, check out these options.

Photo: Robert Whitman/The Licensing Project

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