If you’re looking to boost your libido, there are several options—from medications like Viagra to aphrodisiacs like shellfish and even good, ‘ol diet and exercise. But if you’re having trouble getting in the mood, it might be worth evaluating the drugs you’re currently taking. After all, there are a number of popular medications that can put a serious cramp on your sex life, threatening to erode your intimate relationship.
So, what medications have this effect on people? Let’s take a look at the eleven drugs most likely to affect your libido…
SSIRs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are some of the most popular anti-depressants on the market right now. Brands like Zoloft and Prozac are prescribed by doctors to help patients deal with depression, anxiety, and other troubling mental health issues. The good news is that they can do a lot to help improve your mood by raising serotonin levels.
The bad news is that, because SSRIs lower dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, they can kill your libido. If you’re concerned about the impact SSRIs are having on your sex life, be sure to talk to your doctor.
2. Tricyclic Antidepressants
For the most part, SSRIs—which can also lower libido—have eclipsed tricyclic antidepressants, the preferred choice of psychiatrists prior to the 1990s. But some doctors still prescribe tricyclics, such as Elavil. That’s because they can be used to treat both depression and nerve pain associated with shingles.
But tricyclic antidepressants can wreak havoc on our libido. Recent studies from the University of California, San Diego, have shown that they have an even greater impact on the libidos of women, while SSRIs were shown to dampen sexual feelings in men. That’s a problem given that relationship issues are often a cause of depression— meaning the drugs may not be helping the situation. If that’s the case for you, be sure to talk to your doctor.
3. Birth Control
Since it became legal in the 1970s, birth control has completely changed Americans’ sex lives, generally for the better. But it can also lower sex hormones in the female body, which in some cases can have a negative impact on libido.
If you find that birth control pills have this effect, talk to your doctor about trying non-hormonal contraceptives, such as an IUD, which have been shown to have less impact on libido. Of course, there are other birth control methods, such as condoms and diaphragms—though these are less effective than most birth control pills.
An enlarged prostate can be incredibly frustrating. For men diagnosed with this condition, otherwise known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), days and nights can be filled with constant visits to the bathroom. Many patients and their doctors turn to Proscar, a medication that manipulates testosterone in order to alleviate the symptoms of BPH.
But by tinkering with testosterone Proscar can lower a man’s libido or cause erectile dysfunction. If this is the case for you, you may want to talk to your doctor about transurethral resection of the prostate, a minor surgical procedure that could solve prostate problems and help you maintain a healthy sex drive.
Hair loss can have a dramatic impact on a man’s confidence and self-esteem, which can in turn have a very negative effect on his sex drive. That’s why many men turn to Propecia, a drug designed to help prevent hair loss.
But Propecia has been shown to affect a man’s sex drive. That’s because it manipulates a man’s testosterone in a way similar to Proscar, which has also been shown to cause sexual dysfunction. This is why many doctors turn to other hair loss treatments, such as Rogaine, which don’t have the same impact on libido.
Spring is a tough time of year for many allergy sufferers, which is why so many people turn to antihistamines, which are designed to clear airways and help us get through allergy season. But antihistamines can also affect our sex lives.
The good news is that antihistamines don’t last long—sometimes 12-hours or less. That’s why many doctors, like Dr. Allison Dering-Anderson, recommend patients schedule their use of these drugs to accommodate a healthy sex life. “Antihistamines should be cleared in eight hours in younger and healthier patients,” she said.
7. Medical Marijuana
For people dealing with medical conditions that leave them in chronic pain, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding the slow but steady acceptance of medical marijuana.
But pot, legal or not, has been shown to lower libido. Although results can vary depending on the individual, several small studies have shown that many people experience lowered sexual desire or sexual dysfunction after consuming marijuana. Remarkably, there have been few large-scale studies examining this issue, which seems to affect everyone differently.
8. Anti-Seizure Medication
Drugs designed to prevent seizures, like Tegretol, can save lives. But they can also have a significant impact on one’s sexual desire by manipulating parts of the brain regulating impulses. Because an orgasm is, in many ways, a lot like a seizure, this can put a cramp on the pleasurable sensations typically associated with sexual intercourse.
The good news is that there are a number of drugs designed to help with seizures. Your doctor can, in all likelihood, prescribe something that won’t have such a dramatic effect on your sex life.
Opioids like OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet are designed to help people get through crippling episodes of pain. In that way, they’re a blessing, but they can have a hugely negative effect on one’s libido.
That’s because opioids can lower testosterone levels, making it difficult for men to become and stay aroused. But even women have been shown to experience lowered libido when taking opioids. To counteract these issues, men should talk to their doctors about testosterone injections, while women may want to explore vaginal lubrications or adjusting their medication.
10. Beta Blockers
Many American adults turn to beta blockers—like propranolol and metoprolol—to help prevent the intensification of serious heart conditions. Unfortunately, these beta blockers can have a significant effect on libido. In fact, even some eye drops that contain the beta blocker Timolol, which is sometimes used to help treat glaucoma, can lower one’s sex drive.
The good news is that there are many different types of beta blockers on the market. That’s why anyone experiencing sexual side effects while taking this medication should talk to their doctor about an alternative treatment.
Benzodiazepines such as Xanax are often prescribed to help people deal with severe anxiety—a condition that can directly impact sex drive. Benzodiazepines are a group of prescription drugs designed to help with sedation and muscle relaxation by manipulating the body’s central nervous system.
Ironically, Benzodiazepines can also lower libido (other side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, upset stomach, and blurred vision). People using Benzodiazepines can feel irritable, nauseated, and not in the mood for sex. If this is the case for you, talk to your doctor about trying a different type of medication.