9 Drugs That Can Affect Your Sex Drive

  • Sad couple in the bedroom
    Sexual Dysfunction and Medication
    While medications are extremely useful in treating various diseases and conditions, sometimes they can cause unwanted side effects—one of which can be sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction due to medication can result in desire disorder, or a lack of desire or interest in sex; arousal disorder, or the inability to become or stay aroused during sexual activity; and orgasm disorders, the delay or absence of orgasm.

    Fortunately, by working with your physician, you can alleviate these problems while continuing to treat your primary condition. Talk to your doctor if you’re taking any of these common medications that affect sex drive.



  • Woman Taking Medication From Containers On Bedside Table
    Antidepressants
    Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants and can cause the highest frequency of sexual dysfunction, followed by monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and then tricyclic antidepressants. Antidepressants can cause decreased sex drive, impotence, delayed or absent orgasm, and ejaculatory disturbances. Consequently, these same drugs are commonly prescribed to help men overcome premature ejaculation.

    In order to decrease the effects antidepressants can have on your sex life, you can exercise more frequently and talk with your doctor about lowering your dose or switching to a different medication, such as Wellbutrin or Viibryd, that may have a lower risk of sexual side effects.



  • male talking to doctor
    Antiepileptics
    Medications used to treat epilepsy such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone and valproic acid can cause decreased sex drive, trouble maintaining an erection, and lower sperm count.

    If you find your medication is affecting your sex life, ask your doctor about switching to another. Since different medications affect people differently, you may find that changing treatment lessens sexual dysfunction side effects. 



  • Mature couple laying in bed after
    Blood Pressure Medications
    Water pills (diuretics) and beta blockers, both used to treat high blood pressure, can cause erectile dysfunction in men.

    If sexual side effects like erectile dysfunction persist, talk to your doctor about switching medications to angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or calcium channel blockers that are less likely to affect sexual function. You can also help regulate your high blood pressure through diet and exercise.



  • Birth control pills
    Birth Control Pills
    Oral contraceptives can lower the levels of sex hormones in a woman’s body, including testosterone, which could affect your libido—both negatively and positively. If you have problems with your libido after starting birth control, ask about trying non-medical forms, like an IUD, condoms or diaphragms, or changing to a different kind of oral contraceptive.



  • couple receiving advice
    Antipsychotics
    Common antipsychotics like haloperidol, risperidone, clozapine, olanzapine, quetiapine, amisulpride and aripiprazole can affect erectile function, lubrication, orgasm, libido, ejaculation, sexual arousal, and overall sexual satisfaction.

    For many patients, the benefits of taking these drugs outweigh the sexual side effects. But there are ways to maintain a healty sex life while taking these medications, such as using additional drugs like Viagra to improve erections. You can also ask your doctor about lowering your dose or finding a new medication with fewer side effects. Never stop taking any antipsychotic drug without talking to your doctor first.



  • Frustrated man sitting on edge of bed
    Cholesterol-Lowering Medications
    Statins like atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Altoprev), pitavastatin (Livalo), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), and simvastatin (Zocor) have been shown to decrease testosterone in men, lowering their libido and causing erectile dysfunction. 

    If you experience sexual side effects of statins, talk to your doctor about the possibility of lowering your dosage or switching medications.




  • Young couple holding hands in field
    Antihistamines
    Over-the-counter antihistamines like diphendyramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) may alleviate your allergies, but temporarily affect sexual desire. 

    Since antihistamines do not last over 24 hours, timing is everything. Avoid taking antihistamines when you plan to be sexually active.



  • doctor talking to patient
    Antiseizure Medications
    Tegretol is used to treat both seizures and bipolar disorder, but may cause reduced sexual desire and sexual stimulation. 

    If you’re experiencing sexual side effects of Tegretol, try talking to your doctor about lowering your dosage or switching medications.




  • woman holding pills
    Opioids
    Opioids are powerful for pain relief, but less so for your sex drive. Opioids like Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet lower testosterone, and in turn, lower your libido.

    Most people on opioids are only taking them for a period of time, so the side effects won’t last forever. However, if you’re on them long-term, studies have shown testosterone therapy can help with libido problems, so talk to your doctor about your side effects and what treatment options are right for you.



9 Drugs That Can Affect Your Sex Drive

About The Author


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  5. Drugs that may cause impotence. MedlinePlus. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/004024.htm

  6. Sex and High Blood Pressure. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/WhyBloodPressureMatters/Sex-and-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_451787_Article.jsp#.VztMu2Y1REI

  7. Do You Take Drugs That Might Cause Sex Problems? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/all-about-sex/201403/do-you-take-drugs-might-cause-sex-problems





























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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Sep 7
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