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February 18, 2012
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February 23, 2012

Low sex drive? It might be this . . .

Could something you take every day disrupt your sex life?  Absolutely! Medications are one of the most common libido killers.   When these meds are prescribed or taken over-the-counter, most people don’t consider how they might affect us outside of the condition they are targeting.  We usually just want symptom relief and blame our low sex drive on stress, a bad mood and even our partner.  And while these are all important pieces of the puzzle, do not overlook the drugs that you take every day.

According to a report from the Institute for Healthcare Informatics, the top ten most prescribed drugs are:

Drug Used for Lowers Sex Drive
Hydrocodone Pain relief

Zocor (simvastatin) Lower cholesterol

Lisinopril Lower blood pressure

Synthroid Increase thyroid levels

Norvasc (amlodipine) Lower blood pressure

Prilosec (omeprazole) Acid reflux

Azithromycin Antibiotic

Amoxicillin Antibiotic

Glucophage (metformin) Lower blood sugar

Hydrochlorothiazine Lower blood pressure

Wow!  6 out of 10 of the most prescribed medicines decreases libido in men and women!

So which ones are the culprits?  Let’s start with the cholesterol-lowering medication Zocor.  This class of drug also includes two of the top 10 selling drugs:  Lipitor and Crestor.  Cholesterol is the backbone of all our hormones; therefore it makes sense that anything that lowers cholesterol will lower our hormone production.  A 2010 study showed men prescribed statin drugs had lower testosterone levels and erectile dysfunction.   Testosterone is required for sexual arousal so anything that inhibits it will likely reduce your sex drive.

Opiate analgesics such as hydrocodone, oxycontin, and codeine have been shown to lower testosterone and are linked to erectile dysfunction in men.  Blood pressure medications such as Lisinopril, Norvasc and Hydrochlorothiazine (HCTZ) are notorious for causing erectile dysfunction in men.   Metoprolol is another commonly used anti-hypertensives linked to a decreased interest in sex.

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain, is manipulated by a class of drugs called SSRIs.  These are commonly used to treat anxiety and depression.  Serotonin is responsible for regulating sexual behaviors such as erection, orgasm and ejaculation.  However, high serotonin levels will decrease sex drive.  A common side effect of SSRIs, which        are designed to increase serotonin levels, is decreased libido.

In addition to these commonly prescribed meds, over the counter medicines like antihistamines such as Benadryl can disrupt your sex life.  Just as antihistamines dry up allergy-induced sinus congestion, they dry up or decrease vaginal lubrication thereby decreasing sexual interest and pleasure.

Birth control pills cause a drop of in a woman’s libido.  They increase the production of a protein called sex hormone binding globulin.  This protein binds to hormones but has an affinity for testosterone.  When testosterone binds to this protein, the body cannot use it.  Ironically, even though many women take birth control for the freedom to have sex without getting pregnant, the pill actually lowers a woman’s interest in having sex.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg.  Unfortunately there is a very long list of drugs that disrupt your libido.  If you think your meds may be affecting your sex life, please talk to your doctor.  Never just stop taking a medicine because you don’t like the side effects.  Your doctor may be able to switch you to a different medication or help you make lifestyle changes that allow you to withdraw from the drug under supervision.

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