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Prescription Drugs That Have A Negative Effect on Female Sexuality

Drugs That Cause Sexual Dysfunction

Drug Mechanism Impact
Oral contraceptive pills Reduced testosterone production Decreased desire
Increased sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG)
SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) Activate 5-hydroxytriptamine Inhibit arousal
Delay or absence of orgasm
SERMs (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators) Act as antiestrogen Increase vaginal dryness
Phytoestrogens
Estrogen
Increase dyspareunia (painful or difficult intercourse)
Spironolactone
Steroids
Codeine containing analgesics (pain killers) Acts as antiandrogens Decrease desire
Chronic alcohol abuse
B-blockers (beta-blockers) Antiadrenergic effects Impair lubrication
Tricyclic antidepressants Anticholinergic effects Impair lubrication
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
Antipsychotics Anticholinergic effects Impair lubrication
Dopamine blocking effects Impair arousal and orgasm
Cyproterone acetate Act as antiandrogen Decreased desire
Medroxyprogesterone
Citalopram Increase prolactin Decrease desire
Paroxetine

Antidepressants that activate dopaminergic (bupropion (Wellbutrin), venlafaxine(Effexor)), central noradrenic receptors (mirtazepine, bupropion, venlafaxine) and 5-hydroxytriptamine (5-HT) A1 and 2C receptors (nefazodone (Serzone), mirtazepine) may augment sexual response. Those that activate other 5-HT receptors, prolactin and gamma-aminobutyric acid reduce sexual response."

Source: Vaginal Anatomy and Physiology by Sohail A. Siddique, MD (J Pelvic Med Surg 2003;9:263-272)

Antihypertensive agents:

Aldomet (alpha-methyldopa): Used to treat high blood pressure results in decreased libido and sexual arousal in 10 to 15% of women who use it in low dosages, and up to 50% of women who use it in high dosages. Many of the drugs used to treat high blood pressure impair sexual function in women. There are numerous drugs available to treat this illness, a woman may need to try several different ones, or combinations, to find one that doesn't affect her sexuality adversely. Source:Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving page 520.

"Traditional blood pressure lowering medications, like reserpine and guanethidine, often cause sexual dysfunction in men, along with dizziness and depression, and for this reason many doctors have moved away from them. Beta-blockers marketed under the names Inderal, Lopressor, Corgard, Blocadren, and Tenormin have fewer side effects, but many people who take them still complain of sexual dysfunction. In recent years calcium channel blockers, marketed as Adalat, Procardia, Calan, Isoptin, Verelan, Cardizem, Dilacor XR, and Tiazac have become more popular, in part because they have less effect on sexual function." Source:For Women Only by Jennifer Berman, M.D., and Laura Berman, PH.D.. Pages 89, 91

All the drugs outlined below have been shown to cause erection problems in men. They are also associated with sexual dysfunction in women, including decreased libido, decreased arousal, and orgasmic disorder.

Drug Type: Brand Names: Prescribed For:
Beta-Adrenergic Blocker Inderal, Lopressor, Corgard, Blocadren, Tenormin High Blood Pressure
Calcium Channel Blocker Adalat, Procardia, Calan, Isoptin, Verelan, Cardizem, Dilacor XR, Triazac High Blood Pressure

 


Sedatives:

Librium (chlordiazepoxide) and are tranquilizers. They can sometimes cause erectile dysfunction and anorgasmia, inability to orgasm. Source: Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving page 520.

Quaalude (methaqualone) is a barbiturate. Barbiturates can depress the functions of the nervous system impairing sexual function. Source: Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving page 520.

"Sedatives: These include medications like alprazolam, marketed as Xanax, and Valium. They are prescribed to relieve anxiety, but they can also cause a loss of sexual desire and arousal." Source: For Women Only by Jennifer Berman, M.D., and Laura Berman, PH.D.. Pages 90, 92

All the drugs outlined below have been shown to cause erection problems in men. They are also associated with sexual dysfunction in women, including decreased libido, decreased arousal, and orgasmic disorder.

Drug Type: Brand Names: Prescribed For:
Antianxiety Xanax Anxiety

Antihistamines:

Antihistamines used to treat allergies and sinus ailments can result in drowsiness and a reduction in vaginal lubrication. Drowsiness will result in a decreased ability to stay awake for sex. Reduced lubrication can be perceived as vaginal pain during intercourse. Source: Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving page 520.

Antidepressants:

Antidepressants: Prozac (fluoxetine), , Paxil (paroxetine), Luvox (fluvoxamine), and Serzone (Nefazodone). These are all "selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)". They can cause decreased sex drive and delayed orgasm. 1 to 25% of people using SSRIs report some sexual impairment. Zoloft and Luzox have the lowest reported side effects, Paxil the highest. Women may need to try one or more of these to find one that doesn't adversely affect her sexually. Antidepressants may improve a woman's desire and enjoyment of sex as she will feel less depressed and more in the mood for it. A new class of antidepressants, the first of which is MK869, are as effective as Paxil without the sexual side effects. Source: Girlfriends Magazine, December 1998, Page 18. Dr. Beth Brown.

"Antidepressants: Tricyclic antidepressants like clomipramine, marketed as Anafranil, causes sexual dysfunction in nearly half of the patients who take it. Anafranil has actually been used for premature ejaculation in men because it delays orgasm. Other tricyclics, like Elavil, Tofranil, Sinequan, and Pamelor can cause dry mouth, dizziness, constipation, and lethargy. For these reasons, many people prefer Prozac, the first of a new generation of enormously effective antidepressants that have fewer unpleasant side effects. Prozac is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, and works by enhancing the action of the brains chemical serotonin. But Prozac, like the newer SSRI Zoloft, causes sexual dysfunction - usually delay in reaching orgasm, or an inability to reach orgasm - in as many as 60 percent of patients. Paxil, another SSRI, can cause a loss of libido." Source:For Women Only by Jennifer Berman, M.D., and Laura Berman, PH.D.. Pages 90, 92

All the drugs outlined below have been shown to cause erection problems in men. They are also associated with sexual dysfunction in women, including decreased libido, decreased arousal, and orgasmic disorder.

Drug Type: Brand Names: Prescribed For:
Tricyclic Antidepressant Anafranil, Elavil, Tofranil, Sinequan, Pamelor Depression
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SRRI) Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, etc. Depression

A visitor, Patrick, had this to say:

RE: Orgasm difficulties and SSRI antidepressants (both genders)

Although you've probably heard this before, I think it's important, so I'll "repeat." Orgasm can be delayed, difficult, or impossible for people taking SSRI type antidepressants (Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, Zoloft, etc.))

Also:

  • Both sex and cuddles can still be great fun for both.
  • The overall success of these drugs can be so wonderful that it's still worth taking them.
  • Talking with female friends has let me know that this happens to men & women in very similar ways.

As this points out, sex can be fun and enjoyable even in the absence of orgasm, for both men and women. Placing to much emphasis on orgasm can have an adverse affect on an individual or couple. Sex is much more than just orgasm.


Neuroleptics:

"These include antipsychotic drugs, like Thorazine, Haldol, and Zyprexa, which cause sexual dysfunction as well as significant emotional blunting in some patients." Source: For Women Only by Jennifer Berman, M.D., and Laura Berman, PH.D.. Pages 90, 92

All the drugs outlined below have been shown to cause erection problems in men. They are also associated with sexual dysfunction in women, including decreased libido, decreased arousal, and orgasmic disorder.

Drug Type: Brand Names: Prescribed For:
Antipsychotic Thorazine, Haldol, Clozaril, Seroquel, Zyprexa, most others Psychotic disorders, manic phase of manic depression, severe nausea or vomiting, preoperative sedative

Anticonvulsants:

"Antiseizure drugs, including phenobarbital, marketed as Luminal, as well as Dilantin, Mysoline, and Tegretol, can cause sexual dysfunction. " Source:: For Women Only by Jennifer Berman, M.D., and Laura Berman, PH.D.. Pages 90, 92

All the drugs outlined below have been shown to cause erection problems in men. They are also associated with sexual dysfunction in women, including decreased libido, decreased arousal, and orgasmic disorder.

Drug Type: Brand Names: Prescribed For:
Anticonvulsants,
hypnotic
Luminal, Dilantin, Mysoline, Tegretol Seizures

Antiulcer Drugs:

"Cimetidine, or Tagamet, was the first of a new class of highly effective ulcer drugs that are also used to treat serious heartburn. It works by blocking the secretion of stomach acid. Although side effects are not common, adverse reactions include impotence in men. We do not yet know the sexual function side effect in women." Source:For Women Only by Jennifer Berman, M.D., and Laura Berman, PH.D. Pages 90, 92

All the drugs outlined below have been shown to cause erection problems in men. They are also associated with sexual dysfunction in women, including decreased libido, decreased arousal, and orgasmic disorder.

Drug Type: Brand Names: Prescribed For:
H2 Receptor Antagonist Tagamet Ulcers

Anticancer Drugs:

"Tamoxifen, a drug prescribed to delay the recurrence of breast cancer that is marketed as Nolvadex, can cause vaginal bleeding, vaginal discharge, menstrual irregularities, genital itching, and depression. Patients on tamoxifin must be monitored for development of endometrial cancer." Source:e: For Women Only by Jennifer Berman, M.D., and Laura Berman, PH.D.. Pages 91, 92

Birth Control Pills:

"Many women taking birth control pills enjoy sex far more than before because they have been freed from their fear of pregnancy. But some women who take progestin-dominant pills complain of a loss of libido and vaginal dryness because of the hormone shifts caused by the pills." Source: For Women Only by Jennifer Berman, M.D., and Laura Berman, PH.D.. Pages 91, 93

All the drugs outlined below have been shown to cause erection problems in men. They are also associated with sexual dysfunction in women, including decreased libido, decreased arousal, and orgasmic disorder.

Drug Type: Brand Names: Prescribed For:
Progestin-dominant Oral Contraceptive Ortho 7/7/7, Cyclen,
Tricyclen
Birth Control

NonSteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs):

Stacy had this to say about NSAIDs and rheumatoid arthritis:

"I've been on a range of medications for rheumatoid arthritis over the past 11-12 years. It's been my experience that all NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) make it more difficult to reach or sustain full arousal, and all reduce natural lubrication, but not all do to the same degree. I've gathered from conversations with other women with RA that this may be a common problem, although with the majority of NSAIDs our experiences of which were worse varied considerably. Some of this was probably due to differential dosages, and to differing med schedules, but in general individual response to NSAIDs varies quite a bit. The one possible exception was Naproxen: almost all the women I've spoken with who've been on it for RA have mentioned not only these side-effects but also that it appeared to lower desire. This is also the only one I'm aware of that lists potential sexual side-effects in its information sheet, not for women, but for men: impotence and lowered libido."

APA Reference
Writer, H. (2008, December 24). Prescription Drugs That Have A Negative Effect on Female Sexuality, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/sex/medications/prescription-drugs-that-have-a-negative-effect-on-female-sexuality

Last Updated: June 27, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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