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What Medications or Drugs Cause Sexual Dysfunction?

Almost every prescription medication, particularly those used in psychiatry, has been associated with an effect on sexuality. In men, these effects include decreased sex drive, erectile failure, decreased volume of ejaculate, and delayed or retrograde ejaculation. In women, decreased sex drive decreased vaginal lubrication, inhibited or delayed organs, and decreased or absent vaginal contractions may occur. Drugs may also enhance a persons’ sexual responses and increase one’s sex drive, but this is less common than adverse effects.

  • Antidepressant drugs can interfere with erection and delay ejaculation. However, some patients report improved sexual functioning as their depression improves or as a result of antidepressant therapy.
  • Antipsychotic drugs may cause a dry, but still pleasurable, orgasm. When urinating after organs, the urine may be milky white because it contains the ejaculate. The condition is startling but harmless.
  • Lithium (Eskalith) may cause impaired erection.
  • Psychostimulants, which are sometimes used in the treatment of depression, include amphetamines, methylphenidate, and pemoline (Cylert). Libido is increased; however, with prolonged use, men may experience a loss of desires and erections.
  • A-Adrenergicand B-Adrenergic Receptor Antagonists are used in the treatment of hypertension, angina, and certain cardia arrhythmias. They can cause impotence, decrease the volume of ejaculate, and produce retrograde ejaculation. Changes in libido have been reported in both men and women.
  • Anticholinergics, such as amantadine (Symmetrel) and benztropine (Cogentin), cause vaginal dryness and erectile disorder. 
  • Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), may inhibit sexual function.
  • Antianxiety drugs, such as diazepam (Valium), may improve sexual function in individuals inhibited by anxiety.
  • Alcohol can produce erectile disorders in men. While alcohol decreases testosterone levels in men, it can produce a slight rise in testosterone levels in women, which may account for women who report increased libido after drinking small amounts of alcohol. The long-term use of alcohol reduces the ability of the liver to metabolize estrogenic compounds. In men, this produces signs of feminization such as swelling of breast tissue and testicular atrophy.
  • Opioids, such as heroine, have adverse sexual effects, such as erectile failure and decreased libido.
  • Hallucinogens include LSD, PCP, psilocybin (from mushrooms), and mescaline (from peyote cactus). Some users report that sexual experience is enhanced, while others experience anxiety, delirium or psychosis, which clearly interfere with sexual function.

What are treatments for Sexual Dysfunction?

A variety of treatment modalities may be used to treat sexual dysfunction. These include psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, behavior therapy, mindfulness, group therapy, and analytically oriented sex therapy. Medications used to treat the erectile disorder include sildenafil (Viagra), phentolamine (Vasomax), alprostadil (Caverject, Idex), papaverine, prostaglandin E1, phentolamine, and others. Hormone therapy may be used to increase sex drive in women and in men with low testosterone concentrations.

Mental Health Library Sources:

Information included in all topics of the Mental Health Library comes from the Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria From DSM-5 and Kaplan & Sadock’s Concise Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry. Complete diagnostic and treatment information may be found within these publications.


Information within the Mental Health Library is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis purposes. Rather, it is provided as a public educational service to make people aware of mental health conditions. Please consult a qualified mental health professional for a diagnosis of any suspected mental health illness.

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