Anyone who has smoked pot will know about “cotton mouth”, as the drug causes a noticeable decrease in saliva secretion. However, the existence of “cotton vagina” is something that is disputed on online stoner forums, with some users claiming that getting high makes them dry up down low.
Naturally, only those who possess a vagina and have smoked weed can say with any certainty whether or not the phenomenon is real, especially as virtually no research exists on the subject. Meanwhile, scientists are divided over the possible biological basis for this highly contested symptom.
Cotton vagina started to get a lot of press back in 2015 when psychiatrist and author Julie Holland claimed in an interview with Vice that cannabis can indeed dehydrate a vagina. “Exactly like dry mouth. It's the same thing. It's the drying of the mucus membranes,” she said.
“Now not all pot is going to give you dry mouth, but if you have had a strain that is giving you dry mouth, it will also make you more dry [down there].”
In response, however, obstetrician and gynecologist Tami Rowen told the Daily Dot that “the reason that people have cotton mouth is because there is a cannabinoid receptor in the salivary gland in the mouth.” In other words, cotton mouth it makes no sense to claim that the same mechanism that dries out the mouth also dries out the vagina.
When pushed for her view on the feasibility of the whole thing, Rowen stated that “no, I don’t believe [pot-induced cotton vagina] is a real thing.”
While neither of these contrasting views has been properly investigated, much of what we know about cannabis does appear to pour water on the dry vagina theory. For example, studies have revealed the presence of cannabinoid receptors in the submandibular gland, one of the major saliva glands in the lower jaw. Activation of these receptors by cannabinoids like THC – the main psychoactive component in weed – has been found to decrease the volume of saliva produced while also increasing its viscosity.
In light of this evidence, it seems unlikely that there is any link between cotton mouth and "cotton vagina". That’s not to say that the latter can’t exist, though, as it’s possible that cannabis could maybe dry out the vagina via a different, unknown mechanism.
However, numerous surveys have failed to reveal an association between cannabis use and vaginal dryness. For example, a study published earlier this year found that among 127 women who claimed to have smoked pot before sex, “the majority reported no change in [vaginal] lubrication.”
Obviously, many more studies involving larger numbers of participants will be needed before cotton vagina can be categorically confirmed or debunked, although for now there does not appear to be any compelling evidence to suggest that smoking weed can dry you out.