All About Sex

The best sex ever

Do You Take Drugs That Might Cause Sex Problems?

A surprising number of common medications cause sexual side effects.

Three drugs are notorious for causing sex problems: alcohol, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Many widely used drugs might impair libido or sexual function—and few doctors or pharmacists mention the possibility.

The key word here is “might.” The drugs discussed below might have sexual side effects, but users are not fated to experience them. Sexual side effects are highly individual. Some people notice no problems while taking, for example, the antidepressant, Paxil, while others take it and lose their libido or can’t raise erections or have orgasms.

Sexual side effects are dose-related. As the dose increases, so does the risk of impairment.

Furthermore, when people develop sex problems, especially when they develop suddenly or for no apparent reason, people may not suspect that the problem is a drug side effect. Sexual drug side effects are common and any medication might cause them.

If you suspect sexual side effects from any drug, first search the Internet. If you find a connection, consult your physician and/or pharmacist. It’s possible that another drug might be substituted that’s less likely to cause sexual impairment.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

OVER-THE-COUNTER DRUGS

Alcohol

In Macbeth, Shakespeare wrote that alcohol “provokes the desire, but takes away the performance.” How true. The first drink is disinhibiting, so prospective lovers are easier to coax into bed. But if people of average weight drink more than two beers, cocktails, or glasses of wine in an hour, alcohol becomes a powerful central nervous system depressant that interferes with erection in men and sexual responsiveness in women.

Tobacco

Smoking narrows the blood vessels, including the arteries that carry blood into the genitals. Many studies show that male smokers face a substantial risk of erectile dysfunction. In women, smoking limits blood flow into the vaginal wall, decreasing vaginal lubrication.

In addition, the following over the counter medications have been linked to sex problems:

• Aleve. Erection problems, no ejaculation in men.

• Antihistamines (Benadryl, Dramamine). Erection problems.

• Tagamet. Erection problems, with possible libido loss.

• Zantac. Libido loss, erection problems.

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS

Blood Pressure Medications (antihypertensives)

An enormous number of drugs are prescribed to reduce blood pressure. The bad news is that many have been linked to sexual side effects. The good news is that some are more likely to cause sexual impairment than others. If you experience problems while taking one antihypertensive medication, it’s possible that you can be switched to another drug less likely to cause problems.

Here are the more problematic blood pressure drugs and their most common sexual effects:

• Aldactone. Libido loss, erection problems, decreased vaginal lubrication.

• Aldomet. Libido loss, erection problems, delayed or no ejaculation in men, delayed or no orgasm in women.

• Dibenzyline. Delayed or no ejaculation in men, ejaculation with no release of semen.

• Esidrix. Erection problems.

• Hydro-Diuril. Erection problems.

• Hygroton. Libido loss, erection problems.

• Hylorel. Libido loss, erection problems, delayed or no ejaculation in men.

• Inderal. Erection problems.

• Ismelin. Libido loss, erection problems, delayed or no ejaculation in men.

• Normodyne. Erection problems, delayed or no ejaculation in men, with some reports of libido loss and priapism (painful, persistent erection).

• Oretic. Erection problems.

• Propranolol. Erection problems.

• Tenormin. Erection problems.

• Thalitone. Libido loss, erection problems.

• Wytensin. Erection problems.

Antidepressants

The most popular antidepressants are the selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), among them: Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Luvox. Unfortunately, they are among those most likely to cause sexual side effects.

The more sexually problematic antidepressants include:

• Celexa. Libido loss, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women, with possible erection problems.

• Desyrel. Priapism, with possible delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women.

• Effexor. Delayed or no ejaculation in men, with possible erection problems.

• Lexapro. Libido loss, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women, with possible erection problems. (

• Luvox. Libido loss, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women, with possible erection problems.

• Nardil. Libido loss, erection problems, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women.

• Paxil. Libido loss, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women, with possible erection problems.

* Pexeva. Libido loss, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women, with possible erection problems.

• Prozac. Libido loss, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women, with possible erection problems.

• Sarafem. Libido loss, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women, with possible erection problems.

• Tofranil. Erection problems, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women.

• Zoloft. Libido loss, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women, with possible erection problems.

If you experience sexual side effects from antidepressants, ask your doctor if you can switch you to Wellbutrin or Remeron. These antidepressants have occasionally been associated with sexual side effects (libido loss and erection problems), but in general, they are the least problematic.

Anti-Anxiety and Psychiatric Medications

Like alcohol, when drugs alter mood, they often impair sexuality:

• Anafranil. Libido loss, erection problems, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women.

• Eskalith. Erection problems.

• Lithonate. Erection problems.

• Mellaril. Erection problems, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women.

• Orap. Erection problems.

• Permitil. Libido loss, erection problems.

• Prolixin. Libido loss, erection problems.

• Sulpitil. Erection problems.

• Supril. Erection problems.

• Thorazine. Erection problems, with possible priapism, libido loss, and delayed or no ejaculation in men and no orgasm in women.

• Trilafon. Delayed or no ejaculation in men.

• Xanax. Delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women, with possible libido loss.

Seizure Medications

Many drugs used to treat seizures and convulsions cause sex problems. Here are the ones most frequently cited:

• Diamox. Erection problems, with possible libido loss.

• Atretol. Erection problems, with possible libido loss.

• Carbatrol. Erection problems, with possible libido loss.

• Dilantin. Erection problems, with possible libido loss.

• Epitol. Erection problems, with possible libido loss.

• Mysoline. Erection problems, with possible libido loss.

• Primidone. Erection problems, with possible libido loss.

• Tegretaol. Erection problems, with possible libido loss.

Miscellaneous Prescription Drugs

Dozens of other medications have been linked to sexual impairment:

• Atromid (cholesterol-lowering). Erection problems, with possible libido loss.

• Danocrine (endometriosis). Libido loss, sometimes libido boost.

• Digitek. (congestive heart failure). Libido loss, erection problems, with possible breast enlargement in men.

• Digoxin. (congestive heart failure). Libido loss, erection problems, with possible breast enlargement in men.

• Estrogen (hormone replacement therapy). Libido loss.

• Ketoconazole. (antifungal) Libido loss, erection problems.

• Lanoxin. (congestive heart failure). Libido loss, erection problems, with possible breast enlargement in men.

• Methadone (drug addiction). Libido loss, erection problems, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women.

• Mintezol (antiparasitic). Erection problems.

• Niacin (high-dose for cholesterol-lowering). Libido loss.

• Niacor ((antifungal) Libido loss, erection problems.

• Nizoral. (antifungal) Libido loss, erection problems.

• Phenobarbitol (sedative). Erection problems, with possible libido loss.

• Valium (anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant). Libido loss, delayed or no ejaculation in men, no orgasm in women.

ILLEGAL DRUGS

There’s a good reason why narcotics and tranquilizers are called “downers.” That’s what happens to users’ sexual interest. But “uppers” are no better. Amphetamines and cocaine stimulate sexual desire, but impair orgasm,. With regular use, desire fades as well.

The most sexually unpredictable drug is marijuana. In some, it enhances lovemaking. In others, it’s a sex-killer. And some say its erotic effects depend on the strain, the setting, and their mood. For more on this, see my post of May 1, 2011.

San Francisco journalist Michael Castleman, M.A., has written about sexuality for 36 years. more...

Subscribe to All About Sex

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?