As if it isn’t bad enough to fall ill, we also need to be aware of the sneaky medicine side effects that we often casually ignore when popping pills. Yes, not all medicines always do you good. Everybody’s body works differently and ingesting high-risk chemicals in the form of certain pills, there is a risk that things can go differently than expected. Mild drowsiness is perhaps welcome as it helps us get the rest we need, but what if the side effects go way beyond their boundaries and intrude on our sex lives?
Well, we cannot stop taking our meds, especially if there is a serious underlying medical condition involved. But, at least, if we ‘know’ just exactly how intrusive the not-so-side effects can get, at least we’ll be better equipped to make an informed choice, or better still, we could ask the doc if these can be changed altogether. So let’s get to understand more about drugs that reduce libido.
With inputs and insights from Dr. Sharmila Mazumdar, a sexologist, let us further dive deep into these meds and how they could be messing with your sex life.
Drugs That Reduce Libido In Women
A class of antidepressants called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, Tricyclic antidepressants, certain birth control pills (oral contraceptives) can lower levels of sex hormones, including testosterone, and therefore, may also be categorized as drugs that reduce libido in women. Note: The pill can also actually increase your sex drive. But this happens in rare cases. Doctors have seen it go both ways!
Anti-seizure drugs like Tegretol can be a blessing for people who have seizures or bipolar disorders as they dampen nerve impulses. Since orgasms are similar to seizures (they also are the body’s response triggered by a sensory input), it may be helpful to be aware that the dampened nerves may reduce pleasurable sensations.
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Over-the-counter antihistamines, especially diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) may alleviate women’s allergies, but may temporarily affect their love life. It may be a good idea to carefully time your drug intake.
Lyrica, used for treating epilepsy and neuropathic pain, is also well-known for causing sexual dysfunctions. Also used to treat anxiety and migraines at times, the Lyrica side effects sexually can lead to loss of libido and anorgasmia.
Opioid medications are a blessing in terms of pain relief, but a curse in terms of addiction and sex drive. Studies have shown that opioids can affect your libido drastically too. Beta-blockers such as propranolol and metoprolol are wonderful friends of the heart but they’re probably not rooting for your sex life! In rare cases, even eye drops containing the beta blocker Timolol (used to treat glaucoma) can decrease libido.
Some reports even suggest that anti-anxiety drugs like benzodiazepines can lower your sex drive and lead to further sexless relationship effects. The highly popular painkillers NSAIDs, which are popped like candy by many women, could be sabotaging their lubrication, and hence libido. Not all women are affected in this way by NSAIDs, but decreased libido is one of the most common medicine side effects in this case too.
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Drugs That Cause Erectile Dysfunction In Men
Many men are not aware that some over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants can cause erectile dysfunction (ED) or problems with ejaculation. Flomax ejaculatory dysfunction theory is commonly known but there are also many other medications that cause impotence that can be worth looking into.
Taking hormones like Leuprolide and Goserelin may decrease sexual desire and even sexual exposure. An enlarged prostate is a problem most men will encounter as they age. Proscar, which is used to treat it, has an active ingredient called finasteride, which prevents testosterone from converting into its active form. Lower testosterone can mean a lower libido.
Propecia is basically the same as Proscar, but it’s administered at lower doses, as it is used to prevent hair loss in men. The finasteride in it could lead even young men without prostate problems to see decreased libido. It may be beneficial in such cases to simply let a little hair go!
Many drugs used to treat high blood pressure have been linked to erectile dysfunction, some are much less likely than others to cause problems. Certain high blood pressure drugs may even improve erectile dysfunction for some men.
Medications that cause impotence
If you’ve been taking Flomax, then you must try to be aware of the side effects of Flomax sexually. It’s in a class of drugs called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. This allows it to impact hormones such as testosterone and even shrinks your prostate making impotence the most common consequence.
Prozac, Zoloft or Celexa – these helpful antidepressants could cause decreased libido, decreased arousal and delayed or blocked orgasm. In the same category, even Lexapro side effects cannot be denied. Rare sexual side effects included priapism (constant erection), penile anesthesia, and some more sex problems.
Fifteen percent of the patients taking SSRIs reported sexual complaints to doctors. But statistics showed that if asked directly, an average of 60% of patients reported sexual complaints. But like many SSRIs, the Sertraline and sex drive problem is also very common.
It’s known that diuretics and beta-blockers can also cause erection problems. These are also the first drugs that a doctor is likely to prescribe if you are not able to lower your high blood pressure through diet and exercise.
So if lately, you’ve been wondering where your glorious libido has vanished, don’t fret or be too hard on yourself, just take a look at the medication that you’re under – and you might just find the reason and maybe consult with a doctor even a solution. These medication side effects are not easy to always be aware of, but with a little research and insight, you will be good to go.
Dr. Sharmila Majumdar
(As told to Aarti Pathak)