Study Drug Sessions - Sex, sexuality and body image

In July 2020, Drug Science launched the Medical Psychedelics Working Group (MPWG) – a consortium of experts, leading researchers and policy specialists. The overarching goal of this group is to create a rational and enlightened approach to psychedelic research and clinical treatment. To achieve this, education and destigmatisation will be critical in changing the public’s perception of psychedelic science.

On October 13th 2020, the MPWG hosted its first symposium entitled ‘Women in Psychedelic Science’, showcasing the ground-breaking and outstanding work of women in psychedelics. This was accompanied by inspiring, personal accounts of women who have used psychedelics to treat trauma.

 

Dr Bruna Giribaldi – Sex, sexuality and body image

Dr Bruna Giribaldi is a pharmacologist and has been a part of the Centre for Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London for over 5 years. She is currently working on a publication that will be pooling results from several Imperial College London psychedelic studies that looked at sexual functioning.

Although psychedelics have the unique potential to profoundly change a person’s perceptions, there has been a lack of research into the interplay between psychedelics experiences and perceptions of sex, sexuality and body image.

Dr Giribaldi conducted the survey study with Hannes Kettner by including the ‘Sexual Perceptions Questionnaire’ in other psychedelic trials taking place at Imperial College London. Specifically, the results from the Global Psychedelic Survey and Psychedelic Ceremony Survey. The results from these studies were combined to collect subjective accounts of sexual experience before and after any type of psychedelic experience. The questionnaire assessed several aspects of the sexual experience including the participant’s perceptions of their body and measures of ‘sexual flourishing’ including pleasure, communication, satisfaction and importance of sex. At four weeks and six months after a psychedelic experience, the study demonstrated:

  • An increase in openness to new try things in the participant’s sex lives and an increase in seeing sex as a spiritual experience.
  • A potential for sexual flourishing, with improvements in pleasure and communication, a decrease in sexual dissatisfaction, as well as a decrease in body image dissatisfaction.
  • No significant changes in the importance of sex was reported suggesting that it is not an overall change to the importance of sex but specific aspects that are improved.
  • Differences across gender were also reported for each aspect measured.

 

In the video below, Dr Giribaldi discusses the results from the survey and hopes that they act as a catalyst for further research investigating the impact of psychedelics on the human experience of sex.

To find out more about her research, please see the video below: