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Side effects of medication

Medicines: They can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. On the one hand, they help us because they alleviate suffering and support recovery. On the other hand, there can be unwanted annoying to dangerous side effects. And that on a completely unexpected side - namely in the sexual area.

What sexual problems can arise?

The most common problems that are described are: general listlessness about sex or the exact opposite - an enormous increase in pleasure for no apparent reason. Furthermore, the ability to excite can be reduced. How about the orgasm? Does he come as usual, or much too early, or perhaps not at all? And when sexuality is over, does the arousal also recede, or does the erection even persist? If you are confronted with sexual problems, talk to your doctor about it. Explain how the problem manifests itself. This information is important in determining if the cause is possibly medication that can affect your sexuality in various ways.

Side effects do not necessarily have to occur

In the following we describe side effects of active pharmaceutical ingredients on sexuality that can occur but do not have to occur. The dosage and duration of intake of the active ingredients, the type of illness and interactions with other drugs also influence the occurrence of side effects. 

Medicinal ingredients for the psyche, heart and circulation

Above all, the therapy of diseases of the psyche and in the area of ​​the cardiovascular system is a risk factor for sexual disorders. In the first place are antidepressants and here the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs for short, as well as the selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, called SSNRI for short, and the tricyclic antidepressants. Sexual disorders, especially listlessness and orgasmic disorders, occur in up to 80 percent of cases with these drugs.

Benzodiazepines can affect and improve sexual function

The benzodiazepines, which are used for short periods of restlessness and anxiety and to lighten the mood, have a similar effect. Here, too, listlessness and orgasm disorders are reported as accompanying symptoms. Benzodiazepines, however, have the peculiarity that they can also improve sexual function in low doses with a predominantly anti-anxiety effect. 

Typical neuroleptics of the older kind

The so-called typical neuroleptics of the older kind against delusions and hallucinations also often result in a disturbance of arousal and orgasm.

Drugs for Parkinson's Disease

In contrast, drugs work in the opposite way in Parkinson's disease. The drugs that affect the dopamine metabolism in the brain harbor the risk, especially in younger men, of being able to lead to a disinhibition of lust, which is colloquially known as sex addiction. However, it is not a question of exhilarating pleasure, but is described as tormenting and externally determined.

Active ingredient groups in heart and blood pressure diseases

In addition to all these drugs, there are also heart and blood pressure drugs that limit love life. Here it is primarily dehydrating agents, the so-called diuretics, that promote the formation and excretion of urine. Drugs from the group of thiazides and spironolactone diuretics in particular can cause erectile dysfunction. Some high blood pressure drugs such as the non-selective beta blockers and the alpha blockers can also do this.

Prostate cancer and prostate enlargement agents

Finally, prostate cancer drugs or prostate enlargement are not helpful for sexuality. The alpha blockers may cause orgasmic disorders and priapism. "Priapism" is the name given to a permanent erection of the penis lasting over two hours. The reductase inhibitors or antiandrogens, which result in a deliberate testosterone deficiency, can affect desire and erection.

Information in the package insert

If you want to find out more about your medication and its side effects, you can find the active ingredient group on the package insert. If you find that you have a sexual disorder at the same time you are taking a new medication, you should talk to your doctor about it. In many cases, especially with antihypertensive drugs and antidepressants, there are alternatives. Because not every drug causes the same side effects in every patient.

Wait before taking antidepressants

With the antidepressants, in some cases it is sufficient to just wait, often with the lightening of mood the desire for sex comes back, here the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors help in two ways. However, not only the therapy but also the underlying disease can often lead to a sexual disorder. This is especially true in the case of high blood pressure and depression.

Do not overestimate possible side effects in advance

That was a lot on the subject of side effects. These can, but should of course not occur in the first place if possible. Above all, it is advisable not to overestimate the side effects mentioned. Rather, try to let go and look forward to a fulfilled sexuality and closeness and intimacy with your partner. Then side effects are proven to have less of an effect than if you constantly worry about them.

Medical advice is essential

If you notice any side effects of drugs on your sexuality, you should definitely talk to your doctor. And do not stop taking medication without prior consultation!

© State Center for Health Promotion in Rhineland-Palatinate e.V. (LZG)
Text: Dr. Beatrice Wagner, www.beatrice-wagner.de
Editor: Marielle Becker


 

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