Medicinal Drugs And Sex Drive: How Medications Affect Libido

medicinal drugs and sex drive

This article focuses on all the various medicinal drugs that lower sex drive in men as well as women. Read on to find out what those medicines are and whether they might be the culprits for your affected libido.


Medicines are key components of the healthcare system and are used to treat several diseases. At the same time, their use also leads to unwarranted side effects. In a similar vein, some medications might inadvertently cause the lowering of your sex drive.

Sexual problems arise from varied sources and pinpointing a cause can often be difficult. People tend to blame the lowering of their sex drive on psychological problems, hormonal imbalances, stress, and at times even food. But unbeknownst to you, sometimes the causative factor can be the medicine you take for some other illness you have.

Here are the medicinal drugs that can affect your sex drive:

1. Antidepressants

Depression is known to negatively affect sex drive. Yet, even some antidepressant medications can have similar libido-lowering effects.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs are commonly used to treat depression. This antidepressant group includes paroxetine, sertraline, escitalopram, and citalopram. As a side effect, SSRIs are reportedly linked with the frequent lowering of sex drive in men and women.

The second most common antidepressants linked with lowered sex drive are Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs). Drugs that are included in this group are rasagiline, selegiline, and isocarboxazid.

Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline and imipramine, are the next most commonly prescribed antidepressant medications and are also associated with lowered libido.

SNRIs (Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are antidepressants used to treat depression as well as fibromyalgia and are also frequently the cause of low libido.

Apart from an altered sex drive, antidepressants can also cause problems with ejaculation and also a delay in orgasms. If you experience any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor about decreasing the dose or replacing the current medication with a new one. Alternatives include non-SSRI antidepressants such as bupropion.

To decrease the effects of antidepressants on your sex drive, you should exercise while you take the medication. For men, adding Viagra or Cialis can also help. However, it is important that you do not change or stop the treatment without consultation with your doctor.

2. Anti-Hypertensives

These are medications prescribed to treat high blood pressure and include beta-blockers and water pills or diuretics. The most common way these affect sex drive is by causing erectile dysfunction (ED) in men. With ED, both the man and his partner might have dissatisfactory sexual experiences which can eventually lead to low libido.

If you feel that taking beta-blockers or water pills for your hypertension has had the effect of lowering your sex drive, you should talk to your GP about switching to an alternative medication. ACE inhibitors, calcium-channel blockers, and angiotensin-receptor blockers are blood pressure medicines with no side effects on sex drive. Hence, you can try these instead.

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3. Heart Medications

Heart medications are quite commonly linked to lowered sex drive. Around one out of three people on these medicines report a loss of libido. Digoxin, thiazide diuretics, and spironolactone are usually most often associated with such side effects.

Yet, stopping medications for your heart disease is not an option. Also, heart failure, in itself, is a sex drive killer. Thus, it is better to ask your doctor to check if the heart medication you take is the cause of your low libido and if so, to prescribe other options to you.

4. Oral Contraceptives

Oral contraceptives or birth control pills affect your sex drive in many ways. Some women feel that their sexual drive improves dramatically upon starting the pill, while others may lose their libido.

If you belong to the former group, you clearly don’t need any intervention and barring any other side effects, should simply continue to enjoy the benefits of being on the pill.

On the other hand, if you are one of those women who sense a diminished drive for sex after taking the pill, switching to a different kind of oral contraceptive might help. Also, you can opt for an intrauterine device (IUD) or barrier method (condoms and diaphragms) to get effective birth control without compromising on your libido.

5. BPH Medications

Certain medications men take for curing benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, may result in lowered sex drive. Proscar, containing finasteride, lowers the testosterone levels in the body which can then translate into a lowered sex drive. Propecia and Flomax have similar effects.

In case you experience a loss or a lowering of sexual desire while taking Proscar or other such medications for your BPH, you should consult a health practitioner about changing to a different line of treatment. Some highly effective medications for an enlarged prostate include doxazosin, alfuzosin, and tadalafil. Tadalafil (Generic Cialis) has the added benefit of being efficacious against erectile dysfunction.

6. Anti-Epileptic Drugs

Drugs meant to treat or prevent epileptic seizures work by partially or fully blocking nerve impulses from travelling along with the nerve cells. While this is useful against seizures, it becomes a hurdle to achieving proper orgasms, thus diminishing sexual pleasure and sex drive.

Phenobarbital, Tegretol, Valproic acid, and Phenytoin are common culprits in this category. If you are on any of these drugs, ask your physician to put you on a different medication.

7. Anti-Allergic Drugs

Antihistamines stop your allergies from aggravating but also affect your sex drive negatively. Although their effects do not last for more than a day, those who need prolonged treatment with the medication might feel the burden of less-than-ideal sex life.

If you are one of those people, you should try to time the medication schedule accordingly. For instance, taking the medication in the morning will clear its effects and side effects before it is time to hit the bed.

8. Medications to Lower Cholesterol

Atorvastatin, pravastatin, and fluvastatin are medicines often used to decrease the amount of cholesterol in the blood. These, however, can also result in lowered levels of T-hormone. This in turn becomes a cause of diminished sex drive.

To avoid this further, take a lower dosage of the medicine or try suitable alternatives, after consulting a GP about it.

9. Medical Marijuana and Other Opioids

Marijuana and opioids, such as Percocet and Vicodin, are used to provide pain relief in eligible patients. But the downside of these is the addiction that comes with their regular intake. Additionally, these can also cause low libido and problems with sexual performance.

If you want to prevent these from affecting your sex drive, you can try alternative pain-relief drugs. For short-lasting and localized numbing of pain, you can use locally applicable gels and topical anaesthetics.

10. Antipsychotic Medications

Antipsychotic drugs such as clozapine and haloperidol are used in the treatment of serious psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. While on these medications though, you might notice your sexual performance as well as desire to take a nosedive.

If so, you should consult your healthcare provider about lowering the dose if feasible. Also, men can try adding Viagra to their drug regimen to prevent the occurrence of erectile dysfunction and subsequently, hampered sex drive. In any case, do not stop the course of antipsychotic medications you are on without prior consultation with your doctor.

Other Medicines That Can Affect Sex Drive

Aside from the above-mentioned drugs certain other treatments that can have a negative effect on your sex drive include:

  • Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax)
  • Steroid medications
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Antifungals (like ketoconazole and fluconazole)

Things To Do If You Experience Lowered Sex Drive

If you feel the new medication is causing your libido to decrease, you should try the following:

  • Switch medicines
  • Treat the underlying medical condition
  • Exercise
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Quit Smoking
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Try natural supplements
  • Undergo therapy


Low libido is not something that usually goes unnoticed. However, the causes of it can sometimes be elusive to find, so much so that you may completely overlook a new drug regimen as the culprit.

Yet, recognizing the medicinal drugs that are lowering the sex drive is very important. Not only does it help to resolve the problem but also lets you take care of the underlying condition effectively.

This article sheds some light on the medicinal drugs that can have some effect on your sex drive. If you take any of these, you should talk to your doctor and discuss alternatives and possible solutions to getting the most out of your sex life, while also restoring your physical and mental well-being to optimum levels.


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