One common misconception “cannasexual” coach Ashley Manta is happy to debunk is that sexuality has an expiration date. As far as Ashley is concerned, she’s planning to have sex until the day she dies. And why not? Particularly when she can use cannabis to enhance – and extend – the experience.
As millions of Baby Boomers are now easing into a new phase of life, they may be finding that their usual assumptions about sexuality no longer apply. Issues such as pain, physical disabilities and anxiety related to performance or body image often overshadow desire.
But Manta, who is based in southern California, is a firm believer that, as you get older, a little cannabis can go a long way towards enjoying satisfying sex.
Sex may not look the same
For her older clients, Manta explains that sex is not necessarily going to look like it did when they were 40. “I encourage folks to really think outside of the box when it comes to sexuality and connection. It doesn’t necessarily mean penile penetration. It can be fingers, it can be toys, it can be a lot of things. You don’t need an erect penis to have a fun time.”
So where does cannabis fit in?
“Cannabis is so useful for seniors, because it addresses the common things that get in the way of intimacy. For folks whose bodies are aging, one of the more common things is pain. Whether from arthritis, stiffness or an injury, pain can be very distracting when it comes to pleasure.
For folks who have pain, cannabis-infused topicals are useful because they don’t cause the head high, and they don’t make you feel like a zombie like opioids can. You can apply them directly to the places that hurt – elbows, knees or hips – and that can take a lot of the edge off. Then you can feel more embodied and present with your partner.”
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Cannabis-infused intimate oils
For post-menopausal women experiencing vaginal dryness and pain, Manta enthusiastically recommends using a cannabis-infused intimate oil, like Quim Rock’s Night Moves or Foria’s Pleasure. “I consider the cannabis oil as a “marinade” that you apply 25 minutes before the fun begin, whether you are solo or partnered. And once it’s ‘go time’ then I add an actual lubrication that doesn’t have any cannabinoids whatsoever – and is just good for keeping things slick.”
A nightly CBD oil massage
In New York, which doesn’t have access to adult-use cannabis, sex therapist Rachel Hoffman recommends using CBD-infused intimate oil for her post-menopausal clients (both Quim Rock and Foria deliver CBD products nationwide). “I have them rub the oil into their vulva every single night for several weeks and then see if they feel a difference. I always warn them that CBD doesn’t work for everyone, and they have to give it time to see how their body responds.” CBD or not, it’s hard to imagine the downside of a nightly oil massage for a woman’s libido.
Anxiety around performance and self-image
For older adults, anxiety can also get in the way of pleasure – whether insecurity over performance or feeling self-conscious about body image.
Manta: If you’re worried about wrinkles or stretch marks or scars, or whatever you think makes you unlovable or unworthy, of course that’s going to distract you from being able to enjoy yourself. So anything you can do to help quiet those voices in your head, and even share them with your partner, is going to be really valuable. And I find that smoking or ingesting a controlled dose of cannabis can help with lubricating – pun intended – those conversations. If you are able to feel in your body when things aren’t quite right, cannabis can help you find the words and have the courage to say them out loud.
For people with penises, if you have performance anxiety – the last thing you need is too much THC. But that said, THC can also help you get out of your head and stop being fixated on ‘I have to be completely erect, otherwise I’m a failure.’ And by the way, flaccid penises are just as sensitive. For people as they age, I try to reframe sex away from the idea that you have to have an erection to make it possible.
Negotiate before you medicate
Manta: Especially from a consent perspective, I always tell people “negotiate before you medicate. Before you put anything into your body that is going to cause intoxicating effects, whether cannabis or a prescription medication, have a conversation with your partner about what is on the table, what would feel good, and how you can support each other if you feel disconnected with your body or overwhelmed in some way. Having that conversation up front is really crucial.
Fear of getting high
Manta: A lot of folks I speak to do not want to get high. And I tell them you don’t have to. You can, if you want, but you absolutely don’t have to. If you want to use cannabis for the rest of your life and never get high, there are so many ways to do that – and benefit sexually.
One of my favorite things to suggest to couples is to have a hot bath with a cannabis-infused bath bomb, with Epsom salts and some THC and CBD, and just let your body relax, so that your brain can calm down and get present and enjoy the sensation of the water. While one of you is soaking, the other can prepare the space, with candles and music – and then you come together and see where it goes. You don’t have to go in with an agenda – that you have to check a certain number of boxes to have it count as sex. Just being together and loving each other in the ways that feel good for both of you is the thing.
International Masturbation Day
In an auspicious bit of timing, Manta informed me that May 28th is International Masturbation Day (or Wanker’s Day as it is known in the UK). She encourages everyone she works with that, before using a new cannabis product or strain of flower, they should try it out on their own first. “You have to try it solo so that you know how it interacts with your body before using it with a partner, so you can make an informed choice and avoid the kind of crapshoot that will end up with you chilling with Netflix all night.
Another chance for intimacy
Many of Rachel Hoffman’s clients are Baby Boomers who are in their second marriages, or just starting to date again. They are having sex more frequently, accompanied by all the excitement and anxiety over experiencing intimacy with a new partner. For some couples, cannabis is something they can experiment together with, to make them feel less anxious and prime their libidos.
Hoffman: My couples of all ages have what they call intimacy nights, where they do an exercise I recommend for them or something on their own – not necessarily intercourse but just intimacy – whatever that means to them. I’ve had couples who would go out into their backyard and smoke together. It was very exciting and fun for them, but also a way to become more relaxed and intimate. Again, it’s not for everyone, but for many couples it does work quite nicely!