Medications That Affect Sexual Function
What is sexual dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction refers to a problem during any phase of the sexual response
cycle that prevents the individual or couple from experiencing satisfaction from
the sexual activity. The sexual response cycle has four phases: excitement,
plateau, orgasm and resolution. [link to "sexual response cycle] Sexual
dysfunction can be caused by physical and emotional factors, or a combination of
both. The side effects of some medications also can lead to sexual dysfunction.
What are the types of sexual dysfunction?
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
- Orgasm disorders — The delay or absence of orgasm (climax)
- Pain disorders — Pain during intercourse (This mostly affects
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 multiple
Sexual side effects have been reported with the following medications:
Some over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants can cause erectile
dysfunction or problems with ejaculation.
- Tricyclic antidepressants, including amitriptyline (Elavil),
doxepin (Sinequan), imipramine (Tofranil) and nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), including phenelzine (Nardil)
and tranylcypromine (Parnate)
- Anti-psychotic 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
- b-adrenergic (beta) blockers, including propranolol (Inderal) and
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