Before I first experienced psychedelics, I considered myself bi-curious and had a healthy sexual appetite. But even with my openness to alternative sexualities, I was unprepared for the way psychedelics made me question my own sexuality and the common sexual identities created by society. My sexual desires did not change, but I began to question their origin and understand my sexual self in a deeper, more complete way. In many ways, psychedelics have allowed me to articulate my sexual needs in ways I was unable to before. But, for some people, the thorough examination of sexuality that psychedelic use can inspire may be unsettling and even stressful.
Whether you had a challenging psychedelic experience or experienced a positive sexual enlightenment, you may find it helpful to consult with an integration expert to fully explore healthy ways to integrate your experience. By understanding how psychedelics can cause you to question your sexual identity, you can prepare for the potential sexual revelations and work to understand them after your experience.
Rigid Sexual Beliefs May Become More Flexible
Many people who take psychedelics experience what is commonly referred to as a dissolution of ego, ego death, or the breaking down of “mind tunnels.” All these descriptions refer to the same sensation: the ways you have defined the world or yourself no longer seem to make sense, and you become open to different ways of interpreting ideas.
One idea of why ego dissolution occurs is that psychedelics increase brain activity and cause an overload of sensory information that is interpreted in different areas of the brain than normal. This can cause you to entertain new perspectives on concepts that you had previously taken for granted.
Oddly enough, another theory behind ego dissolution is actually the opposite of the first. Some researchers have found psychedelics can actually decrease brain function in the medial prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex, the areas responsible for emotional regulation, cognitive processing, and introspection. In other words, psychedelics may work by turning off the parts of your brain that have created your current perception of the world, including the way you perceive your sexuality.
But whichever way psychedelics work, it is clear that the result is a temporary weakening of the ego that allows for a more thorough exploration of your current identity. Occasionally, this may involve a revelation that your sexuality is more complex than how you currently define it. You may find you are attracted to people of both sexes instead of just one sex, or you may discover you are excited by BDSM when you have never been before. For some, this may be liberating and exciting; for others, it may be confusing or frightening.
Once your ego returns after the psychedelic experience, you may find you want to explore your sexuality further, or you may have trouble accepting the new urges you discovered. Either way, an integration coach can help you process where the sexual urges you experienced while using psychedelics may fit into your identity.
You May Experience Greater Sexual Desire
Unlike other substances, such as amphetamines, psychedelics do not cause increased sexual desire in everyone who takes them. In fact, some people may experience sexual aversion or a desire for sensual touch without orgasm or penetration. But many people, especially when taking low doses of psychedelics, do experience increased libido. James Jesso, a modern psychedelic pioneer, postulates that this may be because the desire to use psychedelics and sexual desire may stem from the same basic spiritual desire: to merge into another level of being. The desire to connect with others in a deeper way, combined with a more intense and pleasurable interpretation of physical sensations, can increase your sexual desire. And this increased desire and the confusion between sexual and spiritual sensations can in turn lead to a greater openness to new sexual experiences while on psychedelics.
Because of this greater openness, it is important to set clear boundaries and expectations before embarking on a psychedelic journey. A psychedelic therapist can help you decide what types of sexual behavior you are willing to explore and prepare you to maintain more control during the experience. Alternatively, an integration specialist can help you after a psychedelic experience by examining which desires may have been true sexual desires and which may have been influenced by your non-ordinary state of consciousness at the time.
Your Environment May Affect Your Sexual Urges
The set and setting—meaning your psychological state and the physical environment you are in—are crucial factors in any psychedelic experience, but the setting may be particularly influential when considering sexual urges. If you take psychedelics in a more clinical setting where sexual behavior is not commonly accepted, it is unlikely you will experience a massive sexual revelation unless you specifically choose to explore that part of your identity. However, many people choose to take psychedelics in less controlled settings, such as at parties and festivals.
Deeply influenced by the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, psychedelic use at parties and festivals can be highly connected to sexual exploration and rebellion, creating exposure to more sexual fluidity and a tendency to focus more on your own sexuality. At the festival where I was first introduced to psychedelics, there were men wearing skirts, people getting married for just the duration of the festival, and a ramped up sexual vibe around nearly every corner. It was impossible for sexuality to not come into play at some point during a psychedelic experience there, and such a highly sexual environment can easily lead one to question their own sexual self.
Greater control over your set and setting will result in greater control over your psychedelic experience. With the help of an experienced guide, adequate preparation, and a predictable environment, you can safely explore aspects of your sexuality that you are currently questioning.
Whether exciting or unsettling, an integration therapist can help you unpack and integrate whatever sexual feelings you may have experienced while using psychedelics. With the proper support and preparation, psychedelics can be a powerful therapeutic tool to explore your current sexual identity and reach a deeper understanding of yourself.