CannaSexual: Ashley Manta on How to Revitalize Your Sex Life with Cannabis
By Gregory Frye
Sleep, anxiety, stress, depression, chronic pain – just a few of the reasons why more people are turning to cannabis as a wellness product.
But what about using cannabis as a tool for better sex?
For some, this is nothing new. In fact, it could be their favorite thing to do on cannabis.
The majority of people, however, have yet to realize how this ancient herb could help them in the bedroom – with or without the high.
When award-winning sex educator and coach Ashley Manta discovered the benefits of cannabis in her own sex life it changed everything.
The magic moment happened when Manta tried Foria’s THC-infused cannabis lube. And the results? For the first time in her life, she was able to have pain-free penetrative sex. This lingering wound from the assault she experienced at 13 and had plagued her for so many years – suddenly gone.
“I was like holy shit – I don’t know anyone in the Sex Ed world who is talking about this. This needs to be known. And so CannaSexual was born,” Manta says.
But what is CannaSexual actually?
“CannaSexual is a philosophy. When you combine sex and cannabis, you’re really doing it with purpose. You need to have a clear picture of what you’re doing – this isn’t just about getting stoned and having sex,” Manta explains. “This is about, where am I right now, where do I want to be, and how will a specific cannabis product help me get there.”
CannaSexual, she continues, is for people who want to explore possibility, people who either want more pleasure or want fewer drawbacks – whether it’s discomfort, shame, anxiety – and they want to do sex differently.
“This is for people who want to get outside the box. They want to live life and specifically their sex lives on their own terms and use different tools to make it as amazing as it possibly can be.”
Embracing Cannabis as a Sex Tool
At first, Manta was reluctant to incorporate cannabis into her practice. In her work as a sexual violence prevention educator and rape crisis counselor, she’d always taken a firm stance against mixing intoxicants of any kind with sex.
“It took a lot of experimentation and soul-searching … can there still be consent if you’re using an intoxicating substance?” she notes.
“And what I found with cannabis was yes. There is a lot of room for nuance there. You can have conversations about consent prior to medicating. And you can choose non-intoxicating methods of working with the plant, whether it’s topicals or suppositories or CBD-rich products.”
Cannabis, she explains, is a lot more nuanced than alcohol, for example, where just one drink can impair a person’s ability to consent.
“I know cannabis is different and that allowed me to realize there are a lot of ways to engage with this if we do it very intentionally.”
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How Does Cannabis Help with Sex?
When used with intent, cannabis can help people in all sorts of ways in the bedroom, which is exactly what Manta explores in her book The CBD Solution: Sex and in her column with Playboy.
“Cannabis really helps you tackle whatever is getting in the way of pleasure, connection, and intimacy,” Manta says. “And for some people that is pain, for some people that’s stress and being really stuck in your head, and for some it’s kind of a sexual shame.”
Cannabis can also help facilitate a stronger emotional connection between couples when used intentionally, she continues. “You could frame it like, ‘I really want to feel close to you, let’s have a bit of cannabis to get any of our hang-ups out of the way so we can really focus on each other and authentically share what’s going on.’”
This includes bringing a sense of laughter and joy into the moment – also important for sex and something that cannabis can help with, too, when used mindfully.
“Sex is silly as fuck. I don’t know how people keep a straight face the whole time. Bodies and positions, it’s so silly. And you have to be able to laugh not at each other but with each other. To share joy in this fun, ridiculous, and absurd thing you’re doing together,” Manta says.
“Just getting stoned with your partner is not necessarily going to be enough.”
CannaSexual Case Study: The Dead Bedroom
Manta recalls one couple who came to her with what she characterizes as a classic case of desire discrepancy or mismatched libidos. One partner was really interested in sex, while the other was much less interested.
“It took a lot of work and time to get to the point where they felt comfortable enough with each other to share what wasn’t working,” Manta says, “because we live in this culture where sex is just expected to happen with no planning, no conversation, no arrangements, like you just fall into each other’s arms and bliss ensues, and that is just super unrealistic.”
By actually consuming cannabis together during the coaching sessions with Manta, the couple was finally able to open up to each other. The issue that had killed their bedroom? The sex just wasn’t very good.
“That’s why the lower desire partner didn’t want it. And they were having a hard time sharing that with their partner,” Manta says. “They didn’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings, but they also didn’t feel like their pleasure or their enjoyment was much of a priority when the attitude was ‘I just want to have sex’.”
Getting to the bottom of the issue – which cannabis helped them achieve – allowed the couple to work through it. How could one partner be more mindful and focus on how to make it fun for the other as opposed to just getting themselves off?
Tips for Getting the Most out of Cannabis and Sex
As with all things cannabis-related, there are plenty of nuances when bringing it into the bedroom.
Here are some essential tips for seasoned cannabis enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
1) Experiment on Yourself First
If you’re new to cannabis-infused sex and want to explore the therapeutic possibilities, Manta’s first recommendation is to try it on your own first and self-pleasure.
“You want to control all the variables so that you know exactly how much to consume to get where you want to be and to know what it feels like when you get there,” Manta advises.
For some this could look like taking a few drops of a cannabis tincture at a specific time, or maybe one or two puffs from their favorite vaporizer.
Knowing what works for you brings a sense of clarity to the situation where you have more control on the variables.
“If you’re already in a good place with your partner and you’re up for some experimentation, you can totally go the experimental route. But if you’re new to cannabis and you’re trying to make the sex better, and you’re trying to get to a place that has improvement over the current circumstances, starting with you is absolutely the key.”
2) Moderation is Best
When strategically implementing cannabis into the bedroom, moderation is everything. Too much cannabis could ruin the whole session for one or both partners.
“You definitely want to be mindful of just using enough to get you where you want to be and not necessarily getting stoned,” Manta notes.
Manta suggests partners include this as part of their pre-talk: “If I overconsume, this is probably what it’s going to look like, this is how you’ll be able to tell, and this is how I want you to take care of me in that case.”
Maybe you want your partner to roll you up like a burrito, change the lighting, or just leave you alone – you need to know yourself best, what it’s like when you overconsume and how you want to be taken care of in that space, Manta says.
3) THC vs CBD for Sex
Wondering which of these options is best? Manta believes they are both valuable and that they work best together.
It really comes down to preference and a little bit of experimentation.
“I encourage people to start with non-intoxicating options, even for people who are more seasoned consumers,” she notes.
“There are a lot of ways cannabis can make your body feel good without getting you high. If you have to be high to enjoy sex, there are other things that you may need to be looking at. That’s not to say it’s bad or wrong, but just pay attention if the only way you can enjoy sex is to be stoned.”
If you are going the CBD-rich route, Manta continues, at least try to find full-spectrum CBD, so you’re still getting a whole-plant experience.
4) Getting in the Mood
What’s the vibe like in your bedroom during sexy time? Maybe a few candles accompanied by a sensual music playlist? Or is there laundry and clutter all over the place while the TV is blaring in the next room?
Mood, atmosphere, immediate environment – these are important factors that impact almost any situation, sex included.
In the psychedelic world they call it set and setting.
“You hear a lot in the psychedelic community about set and setting and with cannabis it works just the same,” Manta says. “And honestly, I would argue even if you’re not using any substance or medicine during sexy times that set and setting matter.”
Creating the right mood can really go a long way in making the experience more enjoyable for all participants.
And don’t forget those candles.
“Everybody looks better in candlelight, that’s just a fact. Especially if people have shame around their bodies, doing it in darkness only feeds the problem, but candlelight is just sexy,” Manta says.
“And really just making it a pleasant experience. Having water nearby. Having snacks, whether it’s dark chocolate or little bits of fruit – anything you can nibble on or feed each other. Making it a more sensual experience really improves the whole thing.”
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Sex in the Era of Covid-19
Covid-19 has impacted everything. And it’s also had an effect on people’s sex lives in more ways than one.
“Covid has really done a lot of damage on a widescale. Not just the virus itself and people getting sick, but also even people who haven’t gotten sick,” Manta says.
“Our world has fundamentally changed in every conceivable way. We’re not getting the social interactions, we’re not getting the touch, we’re not getting the companionship.”
Conversely, couples who are locked down together face a whole other set of issues, she adds. “They’re on top of each other constantly and they don’t get a break, which is important for couples. It’s important to have space for independence and separate identities and separate interests.”
One of the biggest pieces of advice Manta offers to couples who have grown apart from each other is quite simple – getting back to a place of consent.
“When living together, especially in a long-term relationship, you kind of forget about consent. You do it early on when you don’t know where the boundaries are, but when you’ve been together for a long time you just assume that you know,” she says.
“So I just encourage long-term couples to get into the habit of asking things like ‘may I touch you, may I kiss you, may I hold your hand, would you like a back massage, would you like to cuddle?’”
This approach brings about a sense of choice and connection on which couples can build.
Whether you’re alone or living with your partner, the hardships of life during a pandemic can be a great match for cannabis – in the bedroom or in any other room of the house – which partially explains why legal cannabis sales have been so high.
As we progress through the pandemic – and even long after it’s over – cannabis and the emerging reconnection with psilocybin could really help with a lot of the mental health challenges.
“We are experiencing a global collective trauma in real time and we don’t have enough therapists to clean it up afterward,” Manta says.
“It is going to cause ripples for decades if not generations, and when we are in chronic stress it can be really hard to access pleasure and eroticism and arousal because those things require us to feel safe, and a lot of people don’t feel safe right now.”
For others, she adds, sex with a little cannabis may just be what the doctor ordered for immediate stress relief.
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