24/7 Admissions | Call Now: (800) 939-6636

What You Should Know About Opioids and Sex

Table of Contents

Contact Us

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The topic of sex makes many people uncomfortable—it’s often considered taboo or embarrassing. However, sexual health is a very important subject for all of us, whether we are talking about fertility or having a healthy sex life. Sex is an integral part of the human experience. It should be enjoyed and it actually has a number of surprising health benefits

Opioids and Sex

One thing that’s important to understand is the effect of drug use on sex and sexual health. How do drugs like opioids impact libido, sexual function, and overall sexual satisfaction? This article aims to explain the risks of combining opioids and sex, as well as the general risks of opioid addiction. If you or a loved one is addicted to opioids, there is help available – and you can find a healthier life free from addiction.

What Are Opioids? 

Opioids are a class of drugs that include both prescription pain relievers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and codeine, as well as illegal drugs like heroin. They work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and body, reducing the perception of pain and producing feelings of euphoria. 

While they can be effective for managing pain, they also carry a high risk of dependence and addiction. Opioid misuse can lead to overdose, respiratory depression, and death. 

The opioid crisis, particularly in the United States, has brought significant attention to the dangers of overprescribing and the need for better regulation and management of these powerful medications.

Could Discussing Sex and Opioids Save a Life?

We’re willing to take the risk of this blog making 1,000 people squirm if it will save one life. We believe many women will benefit from understanding why opioids and sex don’t mix. This should be a strong motivator to get sober. Remember, you only get one reproductive system.

To be sure, talking about sex makes some people feel uneasy. But, you know what makes us uneasy? (And sad and angry and bewildered!) The fact that an estimated 72,000 people died of a drug overdose in the United States in 2017.

Most of these overdose fatalities were caused by opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers like Fentanyl. And, every single one of these drug-related deaths was preventable. Indeed, the opioid crisis rages on.

So, we thought we would take a moment to talk about opioids and sex. It is our sincere hope that doing so will reach at least one person who is addicted to opioids and motivate them to get help.

While TALKING about sex may make people uncomfortable, HAVING sex makes most people feel fantastic. And, the typical American will tell you they want to have children someday if they don’t have them already.

Sex And Opioids

The Naked Truth About Sex and Opioids

New Directions for Women is a substance use disorder treatment center that specializes in helping women get sober. But, we want to inform women about how opioids negatively impact men AND women in the sex department.

Here are some important research findings that will explain the negative effects of opioids on sexual health:

  • In 2017, the Journal of Sexual Medicine published a review of 10 studies on opioids and erectile dysfunction. The authors determined that the risk for erectile dysfunction among men who used opioids went up 96 percent. (So, basically just about EVERY man who abuses opioids is likely to experience this problem!)
  • Studies have shown that there is a link between opioid addiction and an androgen deficiency (the male sex hormone). A 2018 paper published in Sexual Medicine Reviews Reported that between 50 and 90 percent of men who chronically abuse opioids have low testosterone and/or sperm count.
  • In 2018, Pain Medicine reported on a study of more 11,500 men and women. About half of the group had chronic pain not related to cancer. Those who were taking opioid painkillers for an extended period of time felt a decreased interest in sex and decreased sexual satisfaction.
  • Research shows that long-term use or misuse of opioids negatively affects fertility in both men and women. Women are less likely to conceive and men are less likely to produce viable sperm.
  • Many men and women who abuse heroin or opioid painkillers report that they are unable to achieve an orgasm while under the influence of opioids and for some time after. The clinical term for this is “anorgasmia.”

There is still a lot to learn about how opioids affect sex and fertility. In fact, there is very limited scientific research available on this topic. However, as the nation’s thought leaders continue to seek solutions to the U.S. opioid epidemic, opioids and their relationship to sex are being studied in more depth and with greater frequency.

Opioids and Sexual Dysfunction 

Did you know that opioid use can lead to sexual dysfunction? This is true for both men and women.

Opioids and Sexual Dysfunction in Men 

Opioid use in men can lead to sexual dysfunction, characterized by decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection. These effects can significantly impact sexual satisfaction and intimate relationships. Discussing concerns with healthcare providers is essential for addressing these issues and exploring potential solutions, such as adjusting opioid dosage or trying alternative pain management approaches.

Opioids and Sexual Dysfunction in Women 

Women who use opioids may experience sexual dysfunction, manifesting as decreased libido, reduced lubrication, and difficulty reaching orgasm. These effects can impair sexual satisfaction and overall well-being. As is the same for men, seeking support from healthcare providers is crucial for addressing opioid-induced sexual dysfunction and exploring strategies to manage pain while preserving sexual health.

The Risks of Using Opioids and Sex 

Using opioids can pose significant risks to sexual health and function, including:

  • A Suppressed Central Nervous System: Opioids suppress the central nervous system, resulting in decreased arousal, libido, and sexual desire.
  • Impaired Sexual Performance: Opioids can impair sexual performance by causing erectile dysfunction in men and reduced vaginal lubrication in women.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: Prolonged opioid use can lead to hormonal imbalances, such as decreased testosterone levels in men, which worsen sexual dysfunction.
  • Relational Conflict: Opioid abuse or addiction can strain relationships, leading to decreased intimacy and communication between partners.

The Takeaway about Opioids and Sex

Most people who are abusing opioids know they are dangerous. They understand the risks. They know that an overdose is a very real possibility. The problem is, those who are addicted always think “it won’t happen to me.” The truth is, it COULD happen to you.

In the meantime, if you are addicted to opioids, you may already be experiencing some sexual problems as a result. You may have a decreased sex drive or you may not enjoy sex like you used to. The other problems you have might be unseen. You may be destroying your reproductive system, making it difficult for you to produce children.

There are a hundred reasons to get help for an opioid addiction. A substance use disorder affects women in profound ways. The negative impact these deadly drugs have on your sex life and your reproductive system is just one more reason to get sober.

If you’re ready to get help, we’re here.

What You Should Know About Opioids and Sex

New Directions for Women

Frequently Asked Questions About Opioids and Sex

Yes, opioids can lower libido and sexual desire in some individuals. They can also impact arousal and sexual performance.

Opioids can diminish the intensity of sexual pleasure by dampening physical sensations and reducing emotional connection during sexual activity.

Pain pills, including opioids, can potentially delay ejaculation but may also diminish sexual desire and overall sexual performance. They’re not intended to improve sexual performance or prolong intercourse. In fact, opioids can often have the opposite effect by suppressing the central nervous system, potentially leading to decreased sexual arousal and performance.

Opioids can lead to erectile dysfunction in men and reduced lubrication and difficulty achieving orgasm in women.

Yes, opioid withdrawal symptoms can include decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and difficulties with arousal and orgasm.

Yes, there are non-opioid pain management options such as physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, and non-opioid medications that may have fewer effects on sexual function.

It’s essential to discuss any concerns about sexual function with your healthcare provider. They can help assess the cause and explore potential solutions, which may include adjusting the dosage or trying alternative pain management strategies.

Yes, opioids can interact with other medications that affect sexual function, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics. It’s crucial to inform your healthcare provider of all medications you are taking to avoid potential interactions.

It can be safe to engage in sexual activity while taking opioids, but it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and impaired judgment. It’s also crucial to communicate openly with your partner and practice safe sex.

Yes, opioid addiction can strain sexual relationships due to changes in libido, sexual dysfunction, and the emotional and psychological effects of addiction on intimacy and trust. Seeking support through therapy or support groups can be helpful for addressing these challenges.

Don’t forget to share this post!


Call Now Button