7 Meds That Can Wreck Your Sex Life
Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Friday and we have almost made it through another work week. I hope you have been having a safe and great week so far. It has been a long and hectic week for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.
Later this morning, the bear and I go to pick up my partner's mother and sister at the airport here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They will be visiting until Sunday. I know they are concerned since he has been in the hospital twice already this year.
Yesterday, I started a three part blog on sex that I will continue today. If you have not read the blog from yesterday, I would recommend reading that blog first.
2. Blood pressure medications
Why they’re prescribed: All blood pressure medications — and there are eight different categories of them — are used to lower the pressure inside blood vessels, so the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout the body.
How they can cause sexual dysfunction: While high blood pressure in itself can lead to sexual dysfunction, studies show that many of the drugs used to treat this condition also can cause sexual difficulties. In men, the decreased blood flow can reduce desire and interfere with erections and ejaculation. In women, it can lead to vaginal dryness, a decrease in desire, and difficulties achieving orgasm.
Three types of blood-pressure medications — diuretics (or “water pills”), beta-blockers and alpha-blockers — have been found to have the highest incidence of sexual side effects. Some diuretics, for example, not only interfere with blood flow to the sex organs but increase the body’s excretion of zinc, which is needed to produce testosterone. And beta-blockers can sabotage a satisfying sex life at least three ways — by making you feel sedated and depressed, by interfering with nerve impulses associated with arousal and by reducing testosterone levels.
Options: Talk with your doctor or other health care provider about switching to another type of blood pressure medication. For older patients, a benzothiazepine calcium channel blocker is often the best choice, and drugs in this class have been shown to cause fewer adverse sexual effects than other antihypertensives.
Why they’re prescribed: While antidepressants are typically used to treat depression, they’re also frequently prescribed for anxiety disorders, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, chronic pain, smoking cessation and some hormone-mediated disorders, such as severe menstrual cramps.
There are many different kinds of antidepressants, including tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), dopamine antagonists and lithium, among others.
How they can cause sexual dysfunction: Antidepressants cause problems in all areas of sexual function, probably by blocking the action of three brain chemicals that relay signals between nerve cells: acetylcholine, serotonin and norepinephrine.
The adverse effects of clomipramine (Anafranil), for instance, include ejaculation failure (reported by more than 40 percent of men taking the drug), impotence (reported by at least 15 percent of patients) and decreased libido (reported by at least 18 percent of patients).
Options: Talk with your doctor or other health care provider about lowering your dose (sexual side effects are often dose-related) or whether nondrug therapies might work just as well or better for you than a drug. You might also want to explore switching drugs, especially if you’re older and taking one of the tricyclic antidepressants, which are considered to be potentially inappropriate drugs for older people.
Why they’re prescribed: Antipsychotics are used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other serious psychiatric conditions. Antipsychotics also are often prescribed “off-label” to treat agitation and depression, among other conditions.
How they can cause sexual dysfunction: All antipsychotic drugs block dopamine, a brain chemical that helps regulate emotional responses and control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. They also increase levels of the hormone prolactin, which can lead to ED, reduced libido and difficulties achieving orgasm. And, like antidepressants, they block the action of acetylcholine, which researchers believe can lead to problems in all areas of sexual function.
The sexual side effects of these drugs have been difficult to tease out because many of the psychiatric conditions the drugs are used to treat are themselves associated with sexual problems. Nonetheless, the incidence of sexual dysfunction associated with antipsychotic drugs ranges in different studies from 45 percent to as high as 90 percent.
Options: Talk with your doctor or other health care provider about the possibility of reducing dosage or switching to another antipsychotic drug. If you or a loved one has been prescribed one of these drugs for Alzheimer’s-related depression or agitation, talk to the doctor immediately. Antipsychotics pose heightened death risks for older people with dementia.
I will conclude this series of blogs tomorrow with the last three kinds of medications that can affect sex. Hope you have a safe and great Friday!
Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.
big bear hug,