Researchers from the Center for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London have conducted the first scientific investigation into the effects of psychedelic substances on sexual function. The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, reveals that magic mushrooms, LSD, and other psychoactive compounds may have a positive impact on sexual function for several weeks following the psychedelic experience.
By gathering questionnaire responses from nearly 300 individuals before and after a psychedelic experience, the researchers were able to assess the influence of the experience on various aspects of sexual functioning. The participants were divided into two groups: those who used psychedelics for recreational or wellness purposes, and a small group involved in a clinical trial using psilocybin (the active compound in magic mushrooms) for depression.
The analysis demonstrates that, on average, participants reported improvements in different areas of sexual function for up to six months after the psychedelic experience. These improvements included a greater enjoyment of sex, increased sexual arousal, greater satisfaction with sex, heightened attraction towards their partner, improved body image, better communication, and a stronger sense of connection.
Of the participants in the clinical trial for depression who were treated with psilocybin, nearly half reported improvements in sexual arousal, interest, and satisfaction with sex. Conversely, those treated with a leading antidepressant primarily experienced a decline in sexual functioning.
The findings have significant implications for various therapeutic applications, such as couples therapy. Additionally, they suggest potential benefits in the treatment of depression, as psychedelic compounds like psilocybin may help prevent the drug-induced sexual dysfunction commonly associated with mainstream antidepressants.
Tommaso Barba, the first author of the study and a Ph.D. student at the Center for Psychedelic Research, commented on the significance of the findings, stating, “Our findings suggest potential implications for conditions that negatively affect sexual health, including clinical depression and anxiety… Sexual dysfunction can have a significant impact on individuals’ well-being and can even lead to discontinued medication use and subsequent relapse.” He emphasized that psychological factors relating to sexual function, such as body image and intimacy, are crucial for overall psychological well-being in sexually active adults.
The study sheds light on the fundamental role of sexuality in human life. Sexual dysfunction has been linked to lower well-being, reduced relationship satisfaction, and even subjective happiness and the sense of meaning in life. Thus, the potential for psychedelic substances to enhance sexual function offers a promising avenue for further research and therapeutic applications.