Medication & Sexual Functioning

Just when you thought that you had everything under control and joy of not having to worry about unwanted pregnancy anymore has sunk in, the possibility of medication-induced sexual dysfunction rears its ugly head.

Sexual dysfunction generally is classified into four categories:

  • Desire disorders: The lack of sexual desire or interest in sex
  • Arousal disorders: The inability to become physically aroused during sexual activity, including problems achieving and maintaining an erection (erectile dysfunction)
  • Orgasm disorders: The delay or absence of orgasm (climax)
  • Pain disorders: Pain during intercourse (This mostly affects women.)

What medications can cause sexual dysfunction?

Some prescription medications and even over-the-counter drugs can have an impact on sexual functioning. Some medicines can affect libido (desire) and others can affect the ability to become aroused or achieve orgasm. The risk of sexual side effects is increased when an individual is taking several medications.

Sexual side effects have been reported with the following medications:

  • Non-prescription medicines – Some over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants can cause erectile dysfunction or problems with ejaculation
  • Statins and fibrates (used to treat high cholesterol)
  • Benzodiazepines (used to treat anxiety, insomnia, agitation and muscle spasms, and to prevent seizures)
  • H2 blockers (used to treat gastrointestinal disorders, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastric ulcers, peptic ulcers, and erosive esophagitis.)
  • Anticonvulsants (used to control seizures in people who have epilepsy)
  • Drugs for the treatment of prostate cancer and prostate issues
  • Drugs for urinary tract infections
  • Cancer treatments
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Steroids
  • Antiandrogens
  • Hormone treatments (HRT)
  • Recreational drugs
  • Antidepressants & Antipsychotics
    • Tricyclic antidepressants, including amitriptyline (Elavil), doxepin (Sinequan), imipramine (Tofranil), and nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor)
    • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), including phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate)
    • Antipsychotic medications, including thioridazine (Mellaril), thiothixene (Navane), and haloperidol (Haldol)
    • Anti-mania medications such as lithium carbonate (Eskalith, Lithobid)
    • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and paroxetine (Paxil).
    • Anti-hypertensive medications (used to treat high blood pressure)
    • Diuretics, including spironolactone (Aldactone) and the thiazides (Diuril, Naturetin, and others)
    • Centrally acting agents, including methyldopa (Aldomet) and reserpine (Serpasil, Raudixin)
    • a-Adrenergic blockers, including prazosin (Minipress) and terazosin (Hytrin)
    • b-adrenergic (beta) blockers, including propranolol (Inderal) and metoprolol (Lopressor)