Are Your Medicines Disrupting Your Sex Life? / by Dr. Natalia P Zhikhareva

Everyone’s heard of medication that can improve your sex life – Viagra!  But some medication can actually destroy your libido (desire). 

It takes a chain of events to move from arousal to orgasm.  The mind has to stay focused.  Nerves have to stay sensitive.  And blood has to flow to all the right organs.  Many things can break the chain – including – the pills in your medicine cabinet!

And I am not just referring to prescription drugs.  Some over-the-counter medication can have an impact on sexual functioning!  What drugs can affect sexual function?


Depression is a well known libido killer but so are some antidepressants such as Paxil or Zoloft.  SSRI antidepressants can put desire on hold and make it difficult to achieve orgasm. 

A study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, found that roughly 1 in 6 patients treated with an SSRI reported new sexual problems.  The number one complaint?  Delayed or absent orgasms.  Additionally, many patients reported decline in desire.

Should you give up antidepressants altogether to get your sex life back?  Absolutely not!   Always talk to your doctor if you think SSRIs are affecting your sex life.  Never stop taking a prescription drug or change dosage on your own – that's what your doctor is for.  Talk to your doctor first, a simple change of drugs or does could be all it takes.


Who could think that what’s good for your heart might not be good for your sex life? Many people use beta-blockers such as propranolol and metoprolol with great benefit to their hearts – but alas – not their sex drives. 

This drugs, designed to control high blood pressure, can cause erectile dysfunction in men and, when taken by women, they can diminish sexual desire. 

Remember rule of the thumb – never stop taking medication on your own!  The good news is that there are many beta-blockers.  Your doctor will help you determine whether a different prescription will be the best for you.


While painkillers can do just that – kill the pain – they can also affect sex drive.  Opioids such as Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet, can lower testosterone, which can affect your libido. 

The research on sexual side effects of opioids is still young, however, preliminary studies paint a disappointing picture.  A study of 73 men and women receiving spinal infusions of opioids uncovered sexual problems.  This study concluded 95% of men and 68 % of women reported a drop in sex drive.  While this could be partially due to the other medical factors, a partial percentage can be attributed to the opioids.


Remember I mentioned over-the-counter medications?  While common allergy relief such as Benadryl and Chlor-Trimeton may prevent you from sneezing – it may also temporary affect your sex life. 

As reported by the Cleveland Clinic, these drugs can cause erectile dysfunction or ejaculation problems in men.   For women, antihistamines can cause vaginal dryness.


The above is only a partial list.  Scary as it may be, there are other drugs that can affect a person’s sex life.  Birth control pills.  Tricyclic antidepressants.  Propecia (hair loss drug for men).  Antipsychotics.  Medical marijuana.  Anti-seizure drugs.  And cholesterol medications, just to name a few. 

I cannot stress this enough – you and your doctor – should discuss the list of medications you are taking, side effects on your sexual life, and what you can do to adjust your treatment. 


Medications that Affect Sexual Function. Cleveland Clinic.

Endocrine Consequences of Long-term Intrathecal Administration of Opioids.  Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.  June 2000. 

Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor-Induced Sexual Dysfunction and Its Treatment: A large-scale retrospective study of 596 psychiatric outpatients.  Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy.  1997.

Medicines and Sex: Not Always a Good Mix.  HeathDay.

Know of other medication not mentioned that can affect sex drive?