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How Drugs and Medications Affect Your Sex Life

How-Drugs-and-Medications-Affect-Your-Sex-Life

Sex and drugs – they go together like bread & butter, right? Well, not always because drugs and medications can affect your sex life in a negative way.

Some people believe that certain medications or recreational drugs can improve their sex life. They allow you to relax and connect with your body, feel more sensation or have better orgasms. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and that is definitely not true for everyone.
 
Meanwhile, there are some people who use drugs and medications during sex. They use them to rid of the shame and pressure they feel during sex.
 
Either way, drugs, and medications can affect your sex life. Of course, it depends on your body chemistry & genetics, as well as the specific type and dose.
 
Everyone is different, right? So, everyone processes pleasure and pain in different ways. The same is true for drugs and medications. Everyone has different responses to substances, which can, unfortunately, impact their sex life.
 
Read on to learn more about common drugs and medications, and how they may affect your sex life.
Do you have a question about how certain medicines or drugs have affected your sex life? Click here to book a call with our resident sex educator and Director of Education & Training, Kait.

Alcohol

Many people think of and use alcohol as a social lubricant to make it easier to request and engage in sex. A little bit of alcohol can:
  • Help you relax
  • Give you (liquid) courage to ask for what you want
  • Heighten your arousal & orgasm
Yet, alcohol is actually a depressant. Too much – more than a glass or two – can lead to:
1. difficulties getting and keeping an erection
2. getting wet (both while drunk and the day after because of dehydration)
3. experiencing orgasm
 
Alcohol is also linked to risky sexual behaviors. When there is too much alcohol involved, condom sometimes gets forgotten. This can, of course, lead to unwanted pregnancy and STIs.
 
Recently, a study about the psychosocial and physical sexual experiences related to alcohol consumption found that “… alcohol tended to numb sensation ….” (Palamar, Acosta, Ompad, Friedman 2016 pg. 8) Because alcohol is a depressant, it dulls sensation.

Marijuana

People use cannabis, pot, and marijuana in their sex life for many different reasons: 
  • pain relief
  • more arousal
  • more relaxed and out of your head/into your body
Cannabis can affect your sex life in many different ways. This can depend on the strain and its specific ratio of CBD and THC. (Keep in mind that since everyone is different, what works for you might not work for your partner.)
 
The more CBD in the marijuana, the less euphoric you will feel.
Thus, CBD is best used as a recovery tool after sex or to lessen anxiety before sex. It is also excellent for counteracting a too intense high. Some experts believe that CBD does not impact sexual performance in either direction.  
 
Meanwhile, THC helps with a mental shift. It can loosen your mental state so that you are ready for sex and/or actually makes sex feel better.
 
If you are into edibles, taking one about 30 minutes before sex can make your sexual experience more exciting. You might feel more aroused and responsive to stimulation. If you are an advanced user, we recommend that you consume no more than 20-35 mg of edibles. This is because edibles do not have an “off button.
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Cocaine

In the moment, cocaine may feel like a great idea for sex. As a stimulant, it boosts your confidence, alertness, energy, & sex drive. Cocaine increases your pleasure, stamina, and levels of endorphins (the “feel good” chemicals in your brain).
 
Yet, there are also negative side effects. These can include:
  • An increased risk of long-term erectile dysfunction
  • Engaging in risky sexual behaviors (e.g. not using a condom, needle sharing, etc.)
  • Unplanned pregnancy or STIs
  • Accelerated HIV infections
  • Impact fertility by lowering sperm counts & motility for people with penises
  • Changes the menstrual cycle and damages the fallopian tubes for people with uteruses
Read more: Sex and Cocaine

MDMA – Molly and Ecstasy

Like cocaine, molly and ecstasy might be a fun idea for sex. Yet, when you are on these drugs, sex isn’t as interesting. Normal things like blowing bubbles or looking at the clouds are more exciting. Some people believe that molly and ecstasy can hinder erections, while others feel that sex on molly is amazing!
 
Again, everyone is different and reacts to these drugs in different ways.

Opioids

It’s difficult to determine the impact of opioids on your sex life because of confounding factors. For example, many people take opioids to manage chronic pain. Meanwhile, chronic pain can also cause sexual side effects. So can the depression that often comes along with managing chronic pain. Thus, it’s hard to determine whether sexual side effects reported by opioid users result from the drug itself or what it’s treating.
 
Nonetheless, some reported sexual impacts of opioids include:
  • Lower sex hormone levels
  • Reduced interest in sex
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Lack of menstruation
  • Reduced pleasure
  • Infertility

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Antidepressants & Anti-Anxiety Medications

Antidepressants & anti-anxiety medications help you live your life and find joy. But, they can also have a negative affect or even kill your sex life.
 
Yet, the reality is more nuanced.
 
The incidence and severity of sexual side effects depend on the type and dose of medicine you take.
 
The following drugs are the least likely to cause sexual side effects:
  • Bupropion (e.g. Wellbutrin)
  • Mirtazapine (e.g. Remeron)
  • Vilazodone (e.g. Viibryd)
Meanwhile, these medications are most likely to cause sexual side effects:
  • SSRIs (e.g. Prozac)
  • SNRIs (e.g. Effexor XR)
  • MAOIs (e.g. Marplan)
  • Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants (e.g. Pamelor)
Sexual side effects vary person to person, as well. They may be minor or ease up as your body adjusts to the medication. Or, they may remain a problem as long as you continue to take your medications.
 
Sexual side effects of antidepressants include:
  • A change in your desire for sex
  • Erectile problems
  • Orgasm difficulties
  • Problems with arousal, comfort, & satisfaction
If you struggle with any of these side effects, here are some ways to address them:
  • Wait to see if they get better.
  • If you take the medicine daily, have sex before taking it.
  • Adjust the dosage of your medicine, try a different one, or add a second medicine to counter the sexual side effects (with a healthcare provider’s supervision)
  • Add a medicine to improve sexual function like Viagra

Blood Pressure Medications

Medicines to treat high blood pressure may cause:
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Decreased testosterone, which may result in lower libido
  • Vaginal dryness
Water pills & beta-blockers are most likely to cause sexual side effects. ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and angiotensin II receptor blockers are the least.

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