Disclaimer: Psychedelics are largely illegal substances, and we do not encourage or condone their use where it is against the law. However, we accept that illicit drug use occurs and believe that offering responsible harm reduction information is imperative to keeping people safe. For that reason, this document is designed to enhance the safety of those who decide to use these substances.
This article has been medically reviewed by Katrina Oliveros, MSN-ED, BSN
“LSD is the most powerful aphrodisiac ever discovered by man.” – Timothy Leary.
Psychedelics and sex both open sensory channels, igniting peak experiences.
Combined, they can elicit shared transcendence ranging from ecstatic orgasms to deep emotional connection.
However, there is nothing inherently hedonic about psychedelics. Rather, entheogens are therapeutic tools for healing, growth, and empathy. And by helping you resolve anxieties, traumas, and relational strife, psychedelics can transform your relationship with sex.
Do Psychedelics Make Sex Better?
Psychedelics and sex are two of the most taboo topics throughout the world. Needless to say, FDA-approved clinical trials on sex and psychedelics don’t exist.
Still, several case reports indicate this is a topic worth exploring:
1. A small study dating back to the 1970s indicated that LSD could “enrich the sexual life of the average individual and show some promise in alleviating sexual pathology.”
2. A recent 2022 microdosing case study mirrored the above sentiment.
Four couples said low psychedelic doses helped ease performance-related stress and tension, increasing passion and sensory satisfaction.
These conclusions are no surprise, given countless anecdotes.
3. An analysis of 45 interviews and two empirical studies exposed a plurality of practices and meanings that sex-related drug use holds for people.
Benefits included enhanced emotional connectedness, bodily sensations, disinhibition and desire, and therapeutic dimensions like allowing couples to explore more open communication.
Two participant quotes include:
I think the other thing is that you’re able to talk much more freely about sex, and I think everyone has a reticence to talk about things they like or really specific fantasies that you’re always worried about, “Oh, is this weird?” and I find when you’re high you’re really able to talk about that and you’re able to communicate it better and set those scenarios up better…I think both of us have, at the peak of MDMA, spoken about sexual things we would like to try…
— Abel, M30, Heterosexual, London, describing MDMA
And the sex was like… it was, amazing. It was so good. And I remember looking at him, and him looking at me, and like… us just fucking, and I was like, what is this? This feels so good. It was, like, so intense, and he was like, I know, something’s different. …And I just woke up the next day like what the fuck?…I was like, I feel like I’ve known you? It’s like getting to know the soul before you know all the other stuff that makes a person a person. It’s like you get to know the innermost personality before the extra things.
— Hanna, NB23, Pansexual/Panromantic, Cambridge, describing 2-CB
A Word of Caution on Psychedelics and Sex
There is a very real flipside to psychedelics’ rapturous and empathetic potential. Psychedelic drugs can also ruin sexual encounters, especially at high doses and in uncomfortable environments.
They can make you indifferent to the act, if penetration crosses your mind at all. You simply can’t predict what will happen when you’re on a psychedelic journey. You might want to stare at your favorite painting for hours, dive deep into your subconscious, or explore existentialism rather than your partner’s physical body.
Indeed some of the [psychedelic] materials make a very good, close interaction possible. And a very intimate interaction. But blatant eroticism isn’t always present…
Shulgin went on to say that eroticism is often dose-, individual-, and drug-dependent. Yet, Shulgin also understood that meaningful sensuality is far from blatant regardless of your chosen chemical. Sexual desire and subsequent pleasure require deep trust, connection, emotional stability, and self-confidence.
So, rather than focusing on psychedelics’ purely erotic potential, first consider how psychedelic therapy can help heal your mental and emotional barriers to passion.
The Relationship Between Mental Health, Psychedelics, and Sex
Mental health issues like depression, trauma, and anxiety directly correlate to sexual dysfunction, especially in women.
Sexual trauma, in particular, can trigger intense fear and anxiety surrounding intimacy for years after the experience. Who wants to get naked when they’re feeling unattractive, sad, scared, or hopeless?
To make matters worse, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety medications exacerbate the issue by making you feel less aroused and less likely to reach orgasm, especially at higher doses. Some medicines also cause painful ejaculation, penile anesthesia, loss of sensation, and inflammatory lactation.
Research indicates these adverse side effects may occur because of antidepressants’ mechanism of increasing the “happy hormone” serotonin. Increased serotonin improves mood. But it can also inhibit communication between the brain and sex organs.
How Do Psychedelics Affect Mental Health?
Psychedelics also stimulate serotonin production. But entheogens like LSD and psilocybin act on different serotonergic channels and for much shorter durations than antidepressants, so they don’t cause such detrimental physiological effects.
Simultaneously, psychedelics’ unique neural mechanisms make them uniquely qualified to free you from mental and emotional anguish, especially when combined with psychotherapy and integration practices.
Psychedelics quiet brain regions like the default mode network and amygdala, responsible for rumination, storytelling, and fight or flight. Simultaneously, they create novel connections between areas tied to higher-level learning, intuition, and self-compassion.
This neural reorganization can help you let go of the stories, anxieties, and triggers preventing you from experiencing a deep connection to self, relational stability, and sexual satisfaction.
Relational Health, Psychedelics, and Sex
Walking the path of self-healing is an essential precursor to intimacy. But even inner peace is not a sexual panacea if you’re in the wrong relationship.
Research shows relationship health and mental health are bidirectionally linked. So if you’re in a tumultuous, damaged, or otherwise inauthentic relationship, you’ll likely experience sexual dysfunction and enduring stress.
Psychedelic couples therapy has been going on at least since the 1980s when Sasha Shulgin, his wife Ann Shulgin, and a team of trailblazing therapists used MDMA to help couples be more honest and vulnerable together. One clinical summary report from that time indicated broad relational benefits. Psychiatrist Dr. George Greer says:
In general. it is reasonable to conclude that the single best use of MDMA is to facilitate more direct communication between people involved in a significant emotional relationship. Not only is communication enhanced during the session, but afterward as well…This ability can not only help resolve existing conflicts, but it can also prevent future ones from occurring due to unexpressed fears or misunderstandings.
MDMA therapy can be incredibly healing. It can also help partners realize that it’s time to move on. Certified Somatic Sex Educator and Trauma-Informed Plant Medicine Facilitator Juliana Goldsone says the beauty of entheogens is they can help people peacefully disconnect from partnerships that no longer serve their true selves. Juliana in the Psychedelic Entrepreneur podcast shares:
Sometimes success is realizing this way of being together has played its course. It doesn’t mean it was a mistake. But we’re moving on to something else.
Whatever the outcome, psychedelics support building meaningful relationships that can yield deeply satisfying sex.
Which Psychedelics Are Best for Sex?
In an interview with MAPS Bulletin, Sasha Shulgin’s wife and author Ann Shulgin shared:
…The relaxation and disinhibition effect of many psychedelics is what most people respond to. If you’re in a sexual situation what you want is that untenseness. A dropping of the tension and the overactivity of the intellect—you know, the “let go” thing. And most psychedelics do that…
If you’re in a loving relationship with a stable mindset, nearly any entheogen can reinvigorate emotional intimacy and, potentially, orgasmic intensity.
Third Wave’s Paul F. Austin recommends MDMA, psilocybin, and 2-CB as the best psychedelics for sex between consenting adults.
Let’s learn more about the three best psychedelic drugs for sex.
MDMA and Sex
MDMA works primarily by increasing dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine levels, boosting energy, emotional openness, and sensory pleasure.
MDMA was called “empathy” long before it became the rave scene’s “molly” or “ecstasy.”
MDMA’s powers come from its ability to help you feel relaxed enough to have tough conversations without shutting down or getting triggered. Eased openness can be especially critical if you or your partner has PTSD, allowing you, perhaps for the first time, to communicate your deepest fears and feelings.
“Some couples take MDMA together as a quarterly ritual because it helps them talk about things they normally push aside,” said Paul F. Austin.
MDMA can also increase sexual arousal. But sex on MDMA takes a lot of effort, and nearly 40% of males struggle to get an erection during the four- to six-hour experience.
For many couples, sex happens at the end and often with the help of other compounds, like cannabis.
2-CB and Sex
MDMA might have all the love-drug glory. But 2-CB is Sasha Shulgin’s favorite psychedelic creation for sex.
Shulgin once said, “If there is anything ever found to be an effective aphrodisiac, it will probably be patterned after 2C-B in structure.”
Compared to MDMA, 2CB is:
- Shorter acting
2-CB lasts about three to four hours compared to four to six.
- Less stimulating
2-CB does not contain methamphetamine. It belongs to an adjacent psychedelic class known as phenethylamines. Instead of being hyperstimulated, many people describe feeling grounded in the body.
- More sexually arousing
Arousal signs, including raised hairs, muscle spasms, and erections, can persist throughout the entire experience.
Psilocybin Mushrooms and Sex
Psilocybin mushrooms typically don’t impact sexual arousal or intimacy as directly as MDMA or 2-CB. But psilocybin does significantly increase emotional empathy and interconnectedness, which can ease sexual challenges.
According to Austin, some people prefer psilocybin to MDMA for sex because it’s natural and non-stimulating. To help spark the sexual fire, many combine psilocybin with Kanna.
Kanna is a heart-opening plant with the active compounds mesembrine, mesembrenone, mesembrenol, and tortuosamine to help people feel energized and more connected.
“Combining magic mushrooms with herbs dampens the amygdala and open heart space. So if you want more organic material that’s less stimulating than MDMA, these herbs can help,” said Austin.
If you’re interested in cultivating your own psilocybin mushrooms for healing and sexual connection with your partner, check out Third Wave’s Mushroom Grow Kit (get $50 off at checkout with code SHROOM).
Any psychedelic compound can be incredibly sexual, whether you choose psilocybin, MDMA or 2-CB. Or you decide on LSD, ketamine, or ayahuasca.
But dosage matters — a lot.
You have to find the right dosage level, otherwise you’re going ‘way out there’… said Ann Shulgin.
When you’re out there in the outer galaxies, observing the beauty of the world and God and all that sort of thing… as our Secret Chief once said of ketamine, ‘It’s amazing, you know somewhere, you know someone who has a full bladder, but you don’t give a shit.’ It’s not your concern, it’s his concern… So with this sort of separation, there’s no meaning to sex, said Sasha.
Sasha and Ann have recommended starting with low dosages to ensure you stay grounded in earthly empathy. A recent qualitative study on microdosing and sex seems to validate the Shuglins’ advice.
According to the study, “From the participant’s perspective, the use of microdosing psychedelics had a positive effect on sexual and physical well-being by reducing stress and performance-related anxiety.”
Microdosing couples reported:
- Increased sexual self-efficacy
- Increased sexual exploration
- Heightened relationship satisfaction
How To Prepare For and Integrate Safe Psychedelic Sex
Psychedelic medicines are, first and foremost, powerful tools to heal intimacy issues. They can also be powerful aphrodisiacs.
But psychedelics are not sexual panaceas. Their power lies in you to utilize them with preparation and intention.
When you’re mentally, emotionally, and physically ready, psychedelics strengthen your relationship and amplify sexual pleasure.
Let’s take a look at ways you can prepare for and integrate safe psychedelic sex.
Psychedelics and Sex with Consent
Enthusiastic consent is the most critical preparation step before engaging in psychedelic intimacy. Consent entails creating contracts surrounding power dynamics, allowable touch, what’s off limits, and safe words to stop play if necessary.
Mind-altered people can’t consent, so set agreements with your partner for days, weeks, and months beforehand.
Set & Setting Matters
Mindset and physical environment, known as “set and setting,” also play an essential role in sexual and psychedelic experiences. Optimal set and setting require that you feel safe with the substance you’re taking, the person you’re taking it with, and the place you’re in during the journey.
You’re more likely to let go of the experience if you’re in a private space with a committed partner than a music festival with someone you just met. Additionally, feeling stressed, achy, or otherwise unwell might warrant postponing the experience.
Setting Shared Intentions
Setting shared intentions is another critical aspect of preparing for psychedelic sexual experiences.
In other words, talk to your partner about what you hope to achieve–anything from an explosive orgasm to a more profound sense of connection.
Consider a Psychedelic Coach or Therapist
If you’re new to plant medicine or utilizing psychedelics in a therapeutic context, consider working with a psychedelic coach or therapist.
- Help you and your loving partner choose the right setting, dosage, and psychedelic compound for a shared experience.
- Help you and your partner integrate the experience afterward, bringing any insights forth into your daily lives. Insights might arise from the physical act of sex or from intimate conversations that bring greater depth and expression to your relationship.
- Help you work through mental health issues that have impacted your sex life and sex drive.
Want to find a qualified therapist or coach to help you work with psychedelic medicines in your relationship?
Go to Third Wave’s Directory. It’s a comprehensive list of vetted coaches and therapists who can help you deepen your sexual connection with your intimate partner.