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6 Medications That Can Affect Your Libido

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Sexual dysfunction is a prevalent problem often not discussed due to embarrassment. Low libido is a type of sexual dysfunction affecting both men and women; this type of sexual dysfunction is generally present with low sexual desire and losing interest in sexual activity. It is not only a key indicator of sexual health but also general well-being. It can occur due to various causes, including a side effect of certain medications. Please continue reading to discover which over-the-counter and prescription drugs can lead to a dip in sexual interest.

What are the different types of sexual dysfunction?

Sexual dysfunction can lead to dissatisfaction with sex life, affect sex drive, and cause an overall poor quality of life for both men and women if left untreated for an extended period. Problems with sexual function can be categorized as follows:

  • Desire disorders are defined as the lack of sexual desire or interest in sex leading to a decreased sex drive. 
  • Arousal disorders in which there is an inability to become physically aroused during sexual activity.
  • Orgasm disorders in which there is an inability to achieve orgasm or climax.
  • Pain disorders in which sexual intercourse causes pain or discomfort.

Why is my libido suddenly gone?

Low libido is one of the most common sexual difficulties experienced by men and women. Besides mental health and physical health problems, various emotional and physical factors can lead to reduced sexual desire, such as:

  • Relationship problems.
  • Stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Weight gain or weight loss leading to poor self-esteem
  • Alcohol use
  • Infections such as vaginitis or urinary tract infections
  • Sexual problems like erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness.
  • Hormonal problems.
  • Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or menopause.
  • Metabolic syndromes such as high blood pressure and diabetes

Can drugs affect libido (sexual desire)?

Yes, many over-the-counter and prescription medications can decrease libido and affect your sexual life. Medications affect libido in two ways. Some medicines cause physical symptoms that make it harder to have sex. For example, medications that cause vaginal dryness can lead to painful sex for a woman and, consequently, a decreased sex drive. Similarly, medications that affect blood flow to the penis can lead to erectile dysfunction in men, which can impact libido. Additionally, certain medications can cause a diminished sex drive because they affect the sex hormones. These natural body chemicals play essential roles in sexual development, sexual desire, and regulating other components of the reproductive system.

If you suspect a particular medication is affecting your libido, you should discuss your concern with your healthcare provider. Your doctor can address the cause behind the change in your libido and guide you toward alternative options if medication is the root cause of your newly developed sexual problems. However, you should never stop taking a medication without talking to the provider first.

What medications can cause erectile dysfunction?

Some commonly prescribed medications can affect certain hormones or compromise blood circulation, which can result in erectile dysfunction or put someone at a higher risk for this type of sexual dysfunction. Besides erectile dysfunction, medications can lead to sexual problems like premature ejaculation. 

Below are some of the common prescription medications that can cause sexual problems or can increase the risk of developing them. However, as with other medicines, personal risks such as age, medical history, and environmental factors should be taken into consideration. 

  • Antidepressants 
  • H2 receptor blockers used to treat heartburn
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Heart failure medicines 
  • Statins
  • Antipsychotic drugs 
  • Cancer treatments.
  • Hormonal therapy, such as birth control and medications that affect sex hormone levels in the body
  • Opioid pain medicines
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Seizure medications

What medications affect libido?

Blood pressure medications

Compliance with a blood pressure medication regimen will reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Uncontrolled high blood pressure not only affects your heart and blood vessels, but it can also negatively impact the reproductive system, leading to low libido. On the other hand, many commonly prescribed heart and high blood pressure medicines such as diuretics (chlorthalidone, hydrochlorothiazide), beta blockers (atenolol, metoprolol, propranolol), and alpha-blockers (terazosin, prazosin) are associated with the risk of sexual dysfunction. Other blood pressure medications that have sexual side effects are clonidine and methyldopa. Different antihypertensive agents cause sexual dysfunction via multiple mechanisms. For instance, diuretics can affect blood flow to the sex organs, while beta blockers can make you feel drowsy and depressed. 

Cholesterol-lowering medications

Statins and fibrates are drugs prescribed to people with high cholesterol levels. These medications can lead to reduced libido because they affect cholesterol formation, which can interfere with estrogen levels, and testosterone levels.


Medications used to treat depression, including tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, (SSRIs) monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and other antidepressants, affect the levels of chemicals in the brain. This can affect the nerve impulses between nerve cells and lead to reduced sexual desire and other areas of sexual function. If you have decreased libido and suspect it is related to antidepressant medication, talk to your healthcare provider about potentially reducing the dose or switching to a different medication.

Hormonal contraceptives

Oral contraceptives and other forms of hormone therapy for birth control, such as the vaginal ring, implant, or intrauterine device, can reduce libido and lead to other sexual problems. However, studies have found that some oral birth control pills do not carry sexual side effects. You should talk to your doctor about other options for birth control if you experience sexual problems with your current medications. 

Psychiatric medications

Several antipsychotic medications such as haloperidol (Haldol), risperidone (Risperdal), and thioridazine (Mellaril) that are used to treat bipolar disorder and other mental health disorders like schizophrenia can reduce the desire for sex. Except for risperidone (Risperdal), atypical (second-generation) antipsychotics have a lower risk of sexual side effects compared to typical (first-generation) antipsychotics. 

Antiepileptic drugs

Medications such as phenobarbital, phenytoin (Dilantin), and carbamazepine (Tegretol) are prescribed to people with epilepsy and other seizure disorders and can affect sexual health. These medications can lead to low testosterone levels and decreased libido. However, you should not stop taking antiepileptic drugs without talking to your doctor, as this can result in worsening seizures. Your doctor may change you to other medications to control your seizures that do not lead to decreased sexual desire.

What can I take to increase my libido immediately?

There is no pill that can immediately increase libido. However, there are several things you can do to improve your sexual function, including your sex drive and overall sex life, such as:

  • Refrain from consuming an excessive amount of alcohol
  • Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise.
  • Get a good night’s sleep every day.
  • Live a healthful lifestyle that promotes both physical and mental health.
  • If you suspect a new medication is affecting your sex drive, talk to your doctor about alternative options that do not cause low libido.


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  2. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/loss-of-libido/#
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004024.htm
  4. https://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-04-2012/medications-that-can-cause-sexual-dysfunction.html
  5. https://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-04-2012/medications-that-can-cause-sexual-dysfunction.html
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4764410/
  7. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2000/0815/p782.html
  8. https://www.epilepsy.com/stories/changes-sexual-desire#