In understanding CBD's many benefits, it's important to understand how those benefits can be implemented into everyday life — including one's sex life. Our go-to on the subject: award-winning educator, coach and authority on mindfully combining sex and cannabis, Ashley Manta of the lifestyle brand CannaSexual®. Deemed "America's High Priestess of Pleasure", Ashley shares her platform of education and empowerment through a range of interactive events, workshops and retreats for couples and individuals alike, each with the goal of deepening intimacy and enhancing the sexual experience. And, she was kind enough to share a bit of her wisdom with our community.
How did CannaSexual come to be?
CannaSexual® is a word I made up, and then trademarked, and refers to anyone who mindfully and deliberately combines sex and cannabis to deepen intimacy and enhance pleasure, whether solo or partnered. It has grown to become a lifestyle brand, emblematic of mindful decadence, compassionate self-care, discerning tastes and lusty getaways. I started as a sex educator in 2007 and went through a lot of iterations of that, starting with sexual violence prevention and victim advocacy to sexual health with Planned Parenthood, to work in a sex shop selling toys and lube, to even working as a phone sex operator. I was always passionate about understanding trauma and helping survivors heal because I am a survivor of sexual trauma. Cannabis helped me manage this and have physically enjoyable intercourse for the first time. That made me realize how valuable this information could be for everyone, but especially other survivors.
What do you want people to gain from your passion and expertise?
I want people to understand that they can have great sex. It doesn't have to look a specific way, but with an open mind, clear communication and deep presence, they can have phenomenal sexual experiences. It's possible.
CBD (and other cannabinoids) can help enhance that experience by addressing the things that get in the way of pleasure, connection and intimacy—most often things like stress or feeling disconnected from your partner or your body.
Can you share a bit about CBD and sex?
The caveat to this is that we don't have a lot of scientific data currently that conclusively supports the notion that CBD is helpful for the things we're discussing—however, anecdotally (on a rather wide scale) folks have reported that CBD can help enhance the sexual experience. CBD is also great for helping to relieve stress when ingested, so capsules, tinctures, dietary supplements, and edibles are a great way to reduce tension and help create more space for grounded presence.* When playing solo, CBD can help put folks in a state of mind that is more conducive to accessing pleasure—potentially helping to quiet down any voices of shame or self criticism that may arise when touching one's body for fun.
What are some of the things people are most surprised by?
People are often surprised to learn that you don't have to be intoxicated to incorporate cannabinoids into your sexual practices. Using hemp-CBD products won't leave you feeling high, so they're a great place to start to explore how nourishing your endocannabinoid system can impact your overall sexual health and wellness.* You don't necessarily have to use CBD directly on your genitals to have a positive sexual effect. Many folks find themselves in a more sexually-interested headspace after taking a hot bath with a CBD bath bomb because their muscles can relax and much of the day's stress melts away.
People are also often surprised to learn that not all CBD products are created equal. There's a lot of products on the market that are using sub-par materials or production methods, not being transparent about their lab results (or sometimes not testing at all), and many that make hyperbolic claims about their product's effectiveness and purity without evidence to back it up. This is definitely a buyer beware market, so it's important to only buy from reputable, trustworthy manufacturers. You can tell a quality company if they're transparent about ingredients, provide Certificates of Analysis (lab results) on the website, and if they engage in practices that align with their stated values.
What are some small ways individuals and couples can begin implementing cannabis into their sexual experiences?
Tinctures and capsules are a great place to start. You can intentionally choose and titrate the amount taken so you can find the ideal amount for your body and your needs. I always recommend people start with a hot bath with a cannabinoid-infused bath bomb, or use topical creams or massage oils on trigger points or sore areas. If you're going to be consuming products that could get you high, I always suggest trying products on your own first, then masturbating, to see how it impacts your sexual experience. That will give you a better sense of what to reach for, and in what context, when you're with a partner.
What’s new and next for you in the year ahead?
So many exciting things! I just launched my new podcast, Elevated Intimacy, which you can find here and wherever podcasts are streamed (Spotify, SoundCloud, etc.) I also have an online course on Dirty Talk launching at the end of January. You can download my free Dirty Talk Quick Start Guide and then you'll be the first to know when the course launches! The biggest news is that I wrote a book on CBD and sex for Merry Jane, which will be published in summer 2020.