HAVING SEXUAL PROBLEMS? Check your medication

One or both partner’s chronic lack of desire or failure to perform has serious impact on a marriage relationship. This extreme absence of desire, known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder,

  • PublishedDecember 16, 2013

One or both partner’s chronic lack of desire or failure to perform has serious impact on a marriage relationship. This extreme absence of desire, known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder, is usually caused by illness, medication, depression or other psychological problems, or less frequently, but total discord between partners. Whereas prescription drugs are known to cause sexual problems, they are hardly investigated when a person notices changes in their level of sexual performance or desire.

Many drugs interfere with the sex drive and, in addition, can affect erections, ejaculation, and clitoral sensitivity. These medicines are many and varied, and are used for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, obesity, asthma, tension, diabetes, and high blood pressure and may, in certain people, adversely affect sexual performance.

This is also true of another commonly abused drug, alcohol. Alcohol in the blood directly suppresses sexual reflexes and about half of all men suffering from alcoholism have problems with erection, and a much higher proportion of women experience loss of sex drive. Also producing negative sexual effects is the use of lifestyle drugs such as marijuana, miraa and cocaine.

Drugs are not always the first line of blame when one experiences sexual problems. If it’s a man having erection problems, he may blame it on stress arising from his job or even blame his partner for it. A couple can end up fighting about a situation where a man, who was previously performing well, fails to get a hard enough erection to allow for penetration.

Couples experiencing sexual difficulties may blame it on the relationship. “You don’t keep yourself attractive enough anymore,” the man may say. “You don’t love me anymore,” the woman may say. Or they both could be thinking there is infidelity going on. Before you start blaming each other, check what medication you are taking, as that may be the source of the problem.

With so many people taking medication at any one time, drugs touch all our lives sooner or later. We use them to lower blood pressure, for heart conditions, ulcers, infections, and for aches, pains, colds, allergies, and also to cope with stress. As we age, the probability of taking medications increases and at the same time sexual responses become more fragile and more easily thrown off balance by medication side effects.

Prescribed medications can have a negative impact on sexuality. Side effects of some prescription drugs include loss of desire or reduced desire, loss of responsiveness during arousal, inability to have an erection or ejaculation, or inability to reach orgasm. Not every medication affects sexuality, and sometimes it is difficult to tell if a sexual problem has been caused by medication or by the illness itself. A middle-aged man, for example, with erection ability already somewhat compromised by the aging process, might be unable to get an erection at all once he begins take a prescription drug. If a change in your patterns of desire and response occurred when you began taking medication, the medication may be responsible.

Compounding the problem is lack of information on specific drugs and their sexual impact. Sometimes a new drug is on the market before these side effects are documented. More likely, the physician and patient are both too embarrassed to broach the subject, or the doctor fears planting the seed of dysfunction by saying, for example, “this drug may cause erectile difficulties.” In some cases, a combination of drugs or of drugs and alcohol may cause sexual problems.

Drugs can interfere with sexual functioning at any age, but statistically they do so more often in the older male. Partly that is because so little research has been done on women. A drug manufacturer may list male erectile difficulties and side effects for a particular medication and list nothing for women simply because women were not tested, not because the drug was found to produce no sexual effects in them. Drugs that can affect your sex life include sleeping pills, steroids like cortisone in high doses, high blood pressure drugs, some diuretics, and some heart disease medications.

However, the most common cause of lack of sex drive is depression. One of the earliest signs of depression is a loss of interest in sex. Even normal people go off sex when they are stressed, exhausted from illness, lack of sleep or prolonged heavy work. Such people luckily recover their sex drive once the underlying cause is remedied. Many people complain of lack of sex drive for some days or even weeks after an operation and many women go off sex after having a baby.

If you notice changes in your sexual drive and performance and you are on medication, you should talk to your doctor about it. You can also get information about the drug from the Internet. Sometimes doctors may not be very knowledgeable about the medicine they prescribe, so you will need to share any information you have with them.

Most side effects of drugs disappear when you stop taking the medication. That is fine if the prescription is short term. The problem arises when you need to take medication on a long-term basis. Guidelines given on medication action list bar will help you.


Effects of alcohol and lifestyle drugs on sexuality…

There is common misconception that alcohol increases desire and improves sexual performance. True, small amounts of beer or wine may relax a person, allow the loosening of minor inhibitions, and increase the desire for lovemaking. Champagne, for example, is considered an aphrodisiac by many because of its celebratory properties but there are no facts to back this up. In most cases, however, more than a little alcohol will probably dampen desire and hinder performance. Alcohol is a depressant, not a stimulant as often thought. A little is good, but a lot is definitely not conducive to mutually pleasurable sexual experience.

Alcohol consumed in more than small quantities can slow down a woman’s response cycle. She will require more time to reach orgasm and feel it less intensely than she otherwise would. Chronic heavy drinking in women can lead to loss of desire and diminished capacity for pleasure, as well as wreak havoc in her reproductive system.

When men consume large amounts of alcohol, they require more time to get an erection and will not become as fully erect. They will likely need more time to ejaculate or may not be able to ejaculate at all. In fact, they may lose interest in making love altogether as the impact of the drinks hits them. The alcohol causes a precipitous drop in the blood levels of testosterone. Up to 80 per cent of male chronic heavy drinkers suffer from decreased desire or impotence or both. After years of alcohol abuse, men’s hormones levels are so disrupted that they may have oestrogen levels as high as women’s.

Though drug users may claim that cocaine, marijuana, miraa and amphetamines are love potions; regular usage of recreational drugs has similar ill effects on sexuality as alcohol and some prescription drugs. This is how some of the commonly abused drugs react to your sex life.

*Amphetamines create sudden bursts of energy like an adrenalin rush, but leave many users too hyper to have sex.

*Marijuana does enhance the sense of touch and gives the impression that time is passing more slowly, which might explain why some people feel it improves sexual dysfunction. But while some pot smokers swear that it enhances orgasm or helps them delay ejaculation, many report no effect at all or find the drug inhibits sexuality. Long-term heavy use disrupts hormonal balances, interferes with fertility in both sexes, and lowers testosterone levels in men.

*Cocaine does initially increase the sex drive and loosen inhibition in some people. The drug stimulates production in the brain of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that acts as a kind of natural aphrodisiac. Many people report in research findings that after first using cocaine they experience greater desire, more intense, even multiple orgasms, and, for men, the ability to prolong intercourse.

Cocaine may continue to have positive effects on sexual performance for a while, but those effects keep diminishing. Soon the body goes into a state of dopamine deficiency, a natural result of being forced to produce too much of the chemical. Cocaine loses its sex-enhancing properties, and men have trouble getting erections while women can’t lubricate or reach orgasm. Sustained use leads to complete loss of desire.

*Miraa chewing keeps one awake for longer hours and users claim they perform better sexually. However, like in all other drug users, these effects are short-term and in the long run interfere negatively with sexual performance.

Other drugs such as barbiturates, heroin and LSD dampen ardor in one way or another. They put the user in an altered, even initially euphoric state, in which one is company and two is a crowd. These are dangerous drugs to use as the user is often out of touch with reality and may even become violent or commit criminal acts.

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