Male-female differences in the effects of cannabinoids on sexual behavior and gonadal hormone function

Horm Behav. 2010 Jun;58(1):91-9. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2009.08.009. Epub 2009 Sep 3.


The putative role of the endocannabinoid system and the effects of cannabis use in male and female sexual functioning are summarized. The influence of cannabis intake on sexual behavior and arousability appear to be dose-dependent in both men and women, although women are far more consistent in reporting facilitatory effects. Furthermore, evidence from nonhuman species indicate somewhat more beneficial than debilitating effects of cannabinoids on female sexual proceptivity and receptivity while suggesting predominantly detrimental effects on male sexual motivation and erectile functioning. Data from human and nonhuman species converge on the ephemeral nature of THC-induced testosterone decline. However, it is clear that cannabinoid-induced inhibition of male sexual behavior is independent of concurrent declines in testosterone levels. Investigations also reveal a suppression of gonadotropin release by cannabinoids across various species. Historical milestones and promising future directions in the area of cannabinoid and sexuality research are also outlined in this review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Central Nervous System Agents / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Gonadal Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sexual Behavior / drug effects*
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology


  • Cannabinoids
  • Central Nervous System Agents
  • Gonadal Hormones