6 Drugs that are Dampening Your Sex Drive


While medication can certainly help your sexual health (hello, Viagra!), there are some drugs that actually threaten your sexual wellness with a low libido. If you suspect that your wellbeing has been affected in this way, talk to your doctor about alternatives. According to Raymond Hobbs, MD, a senior staff physician in the department of internal medicine at HenryFordHospital in Detroit, ‘Communication is key.’ However, before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at some of the major culprits behind lowering your sex drive.


1. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: ‘Depression is a well known libido killer, but so are some antidepressants,’ says wellness expert Amanda Gardner. ‘Prozac, Zoloft, and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) improve mood by raising serotonin. Unfortunately, that can also lower libido. You have options. Wellbutrin and Viibryd are two SSRIs that don’t have this side effect. Or try exercise. A recent study suggests that women taking antidepressants who do cardio and strength training before sex may see improvements in the bedroom.’


2. Tricyclic antidepressants:Gardner details, ‘Since the SSRIs came out in the 1990s, tricyclic antidepressants such as Elavil aren’t used as often. But some doctors do still prescribe them to treat not only depression, but also nerve pain such as that associated with shingles. But these, too, can decrease libido. If you have a problem, try switching drugs or playing with the dose (after talking to your doctor, of course).’ Dr. Hobbs explains, ‘A lot of times you just want to use the lowest dose that accomplishes what you want. Start low and go slow.’


3. Birth Control Pills: ‘Oral contraceptives can lower levels of sex hormones, including testosterone, and therefore may also affect libido,’ says Gardner. ‘Non-hormonal contraceptives, such as an IUD, are good alternatives. Less popular are condoms and diaphragms. Or you can try one of the many other birth control pills available. Bear in mind that the pill can also increase your sex drive.’ Dr. Hobbs recalls, ‘I’ve seen it go both ways. Taking the pill is very effective and [women who are] more confident in their birth control device… find that their sexuality improves.’


4. Proscar: ‘Proscar is used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, better known as an enlarged prostate,’ Gardner notes. ‘It’s a problem most men will encounter as they age. The active ingredient in the drug is finasteride, which prevents testosterone from converting into its active form. Lower testosterone can mean a lower libido. An alternative treatment for BPH is a procedure known as a transurethral resection of the prostate. This widely performed one-hour operation involves slipping a tube up the urethra and removing a portion of the prostate. That could take care of the prostate problems and the need for medication.’


5. Propecia: ‘This drug is basically the same as Proscar, but it’s used at lower doses to prevent hair loss in men,’ Gardner comments. ‘This means that younger men without prostate problems may also see decreased libido (about 2% of men reported sexual side effects in clinical trials). And there have been reports that the effects can last even after discontinuing the drug. There are alternative hair-loss treatments, such as Rogaine, that don’t have sexual side effects.’


6. Antihistamines:Gardner points out, ‘Over-the-counter antihistamines, especially diphendyramine (Benadryl) and chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), may alleviate your allergies, but temporarily affect your love life. The solution here could be as simple as carefully timing when you take the drug.’ Allison Dering-Anderson, PharmD, a clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre in Omaha, explains, ‘Many of these drugs do not last 24 hours and certainly their side effects don’t. Antihistamines should be cleared in eight hours in younger and healthier patients.’

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