As scientific research into psychedelic substances advances, we uncover increasingly more evidence on the high efficacy of these substances for improving mental health. Psychedelics have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, mitigate addictive behaviors, and enhance mood and quality of life. But how about the impact of psychedelics on intimacy and sexual performance and satisfaction?
Intimacy is an integral part of our mental health; healthy sexual functions are linked to lower anxiety, depression, and insomnia while contributing to a strong immune system and even increased longevity. While research into the effects of psychedelics on intimacy and sexual functions is notably missing, anecdotal reports suggest that psychedelics used in the right context and in small doses can support healthy intimacy.
Before we dive into the various aspects of microdosing for intimacy, here are a few critical safety points to consider:
Engage with self or a trusted and established partner only
Carefully design and curate your set and setting
Stick to small doses, especially when with a partner since executive functions are impaired and true consent can not be assessed
Remember, the goal is not sex but rather enhanced intimacy!
Set clear boundaries and take safety precautions ahead of time
Never accept sexual advances from anyone under any context (sexual assault is a significant issue in psychedelic communities including ceremonies and retreats)
Now that we covered our "Safety First" precautions, let's take a look at how microdosing can enhance intimacy with self and others!
Intimacy by definition means close familiarity and friendship. Intimacy therefore reaches far beyond physical intimacy and encompasses embodiment and awareness with or without sexual intimacy.
Microdosing & Intimacy With Self
Without intimacy with self, there can be no authentic intimacy with others. Intimacy with self applies to both somatic and emotional intimacy. How familiar and comfortable are you in your skin? How familiar and comfortable are you with your emotional states, triggers, and glimmers? It is in the contemplation of these questions that intimacy with self is cultivated.
In past blog posts we've explored the link between trauma, PTSD, disembodiment, and how the practice of microdosing can help to both gradually cultivate safety in the body, and improve and enahnce embodiment both of which directly support a deepening of personal intimacy.
Exploring personal intimacy in a safe, private, compassionate, and curious container is a truly profound, empowering, and healing practice. Psychedelic microdosing is uniquely positioned to support this process due to its effects on enhancing "openness", one of the Five-Factor Model personality traits, and reducing anxiety which allows for exploring new dimensions of one’s being without judgment and fear.
Increased mindfulness is another widely reported benefit of microdosing which is the foundation of emotional awareness and the building block of self-knowledge, emotional regulation, and self-mastery; all supporting enhanced emotional intimacy.
While microdosing is sufficient to support self-intimacy over time, experienced seekers might also find slightly larger doses (2 or 3 times a microdose but far less than a full dose) deeply illuminating and supportive of exploring embodiment and personal intimacy.
Microdosing & Libido
Mental health challenges are the #1 cause of sexual dysfunction and low libido with depression at the very top of that list. One John Hopkins physician states “Change in sex drive is a key symptom we look at when deciding if someone fits the diagnosis for major depressive episodes,”. One research found that over 62% of men with depression also struggle with low libido and other sexual challenges, while another reported that number to be 40% for women.
Anxiety and stress are other key contributors to sexual dysfunction. High levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) effectively shuts down reproductive system functions and impacts both libido and sexual performance.
Microdosing has been shown to significantly reduce both depression and anxiety symptoms, effectively supporting healthy libido and sexual functions.
Microdosing & Intimacy With Others
If you've been following my blog for some time now, then you have heard me say over and over again that "microdosing is an invitation to subtlety". In a world over-saturated with extremes, microdosing is the medicinal practice that invites us to slow down, tune in, and respond to the subtle nuances of our lives experience. Perhaps one of the most wonderful ways to experience and practice the art of subtlety is through exploring inter-personal intimacy through microdosing.
What more can you discover about the scent of your partner? What happens when you slow down and explore your breath together? What are some new things you can notice about the sensation of touch from one another?
While sexual intimacy can be explored in this context, with previously secured consent, the only goal of the practice is to tune into your senses and find new subtleties to notice, explore, share, and appreciate about one another.
As with every psychedelic practice, it is important to spend some time after to integrate the experience through journaling about what you discovered, what felt good, what felt familiar, and how you can incorporate one small insight into your daily life to stay connected to yourself or your partner.