Prescription Drugs and Sex—Not Always a Good Mix

IMAGE Joe S., a 50-year-old accountant, takes a prescription medication for his high blood pressure. Jane L., a 35-year-old computer programmer, alleviates her depression with a different type of medication. They both feel good all day, but certain problems arise at night. Joe cannot maintain an erection and Jane takes a long time to have an orgasm. After a few months of these problems, Joe and Jane start to avoid their partners in bed. Sex becomes an ordeal instead of a pleasure. Joe and Jane's experiences are typical of many of Americans who take prescription drugs.If you are having these problems, you are not alone. A lot of prescription medications cause sexual dysfunction.

Sexual Side Effects

For many people, sexual dysfunction as a side effect of medications come as an unpleasant surprise. It is not always common for doctors to discuss these side effects with their patients.If you suspect that a drug you are taking is affecting your sexuality, read through the brochure that came with your prescription. You may be relieved to discover that the drug is the problem and not yourself.Taking a drug that diminishes your sexual functioning does not mean the end of your sex life. There are many treatments that can alleviate sexual side effects.If you discover that the medications may be causing problems for you, talk to your doctor about making some changes. If your doctor is not open to discussing the problem with you, find one who will.

High Blood Pressure Medications

Men tend to have more problems with medications to treat high blood pressure than women. The medications affect the force of blood, which helps men with erections and women with arousal, desire, and the ability to orgasm.Common blood pressure medications with sexual side effects include:
  • Diuretics
  • Beta blockers
  • ACE inhibitors
  • Calcium channel blockers
One approach is to evaluate other aspects of your life. Smoking, alcohol, and lack of physical activity can cause high blood pressure as well as causing sexual problems. Making small changes can reap great benefits (some activity is better than no activity). It is possible to improve your sex life by making adjustments, despite your medications. Enough changes may even allow you to stop medications. If this doesn't work, there may be other options.Another approach is to talk to your doctor about switching to a different drug or lowering the dosage. Another possibility is to stop taking the drug for a specified period, like a weekend, when you plan to have sex (a drug holiday). (Note: This should never be tried without consulting your doctor.) If none of these approaches help or are not appropriate, impotence treatments are an option. There are oral medications, injections, or implants that are inserted into the penis. These approaches can help to produce erections. Sildenafil is one of the medications that can help improve a man's ability to have and maintain an erection. You may also want to talk to your doctor about drug antidotes that counter the negative sexual effects of high blood pressure medications. Do not be embarrassed to speak with your pharmacist, as well. They can provide valuable information to you and your doctor.

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