Let’s Talk About Sex
You may be thinking that sex is a rather “Cosmopolitan” topic to be discussed by an addiction treatment facility. The topic of sex makes many people uncomfortable. It is 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. After all, without it, there would be no human experience to speak of!
Plus, sexual intimacy is a beautiful thing and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Sex should be enjoyed and it actually has a number of surprising health benefits.
So, it really doesn’t matter if we want to talk about sex. We NEED to talk about it. The future of the human race depends on it. (And, quite frankly, so does our happiness!)
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.
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 a deficiency in androgen (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.
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.