The consumption of psychedelics such as magic mushrooms and LSD may help to improve sexual function months after use according to a study published in the medical journal Nature.
To understand the relationship between psychedelic use and sex, researchers from the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London analysed questionnaire responses from almost 300 people before and twice after they underwent a psychedelic experience.
The study, believed to be the first of its kind, combined answers from two sets of respondents. People who had consumed psychedelics as part of a recreational or ceremonial setting outside of formal studies, and people who had taken part in a clinical trial assessing the effectiveness of psilocybin (the compound found in magic mushrooms) as a treatment for depression.
“We believe this is the first scientific study to explore the effects of psychedelics on sexual functioning,” said study author Tommaso Barba. “Our findings suggest potential implications for conditions that negatively affect sexual health, including clinical depression and anxiety.”
The study found that on average, people reported improvements across a range of areas of sexual function up to six months after their psychedelic experience, including their enjoyment of sex, sexual arousal, satisfaction with sex, attraction to their partner, their own physical appearance, communication, and their sense of connection.
Reduced sexual desire is a common side effect of traditional treatments for depression such as SSRIs. Often, people stop taking antidepressants due to these side effects, resulting in poor outcomes in treatment including relapse. The study authors believe their results highlight the benefits of psychedelics as a treatment for depression as they overcome this common side effect.
“On the surface, this type of research may seem ‘quirky’, but the psychological aspects of sexual function – including how we think about our own bodies, our attraction to our partners, and our ability to connect to people intimately – are all important to psychological wellbeing in sexually active adults.
“Sexuality is a fundamental human drive. For example, we know that sexual dysfunction is linked to lower well-being in healthy adults, can impact relationship satisfaction, and is even linked to subjective happiness and ‘meaning in life’,” Barba said.