medications and sex

Are Medications Sapping Your Desire?

Side effects. They’re usually buried in the fine print of those intimidating pamphlets that come with your new prescription. If you read carefully, you may find that the list of side effects may be more inconvenient than your original condition.

Decreased sex drive is a common side effect that’s often underestimated and can have a significant psychological impact on women and their relationships.

The most common medications known to potentially affect libido include:

  • Hormonal contraceptives (prevent pregnancy)
  • Anti-depressants (combat depression)
  • Antihistamines (fight allergy symptoms)
  • Opioids (kill pain)
  • Beta-blockers (lower blood pressure)

Virtua OB/GYN Kimberly Bridges-White, MD, offers several strategies to manage these common libido-busters and restore that bedroom spark.

Take your medications at bedtime

This way, when you wake up in the morning refreshed and relaxed, your medication levels won’t be at their highest point. Take advantage of this time to be intimate with your partner.


Physical activity has countless health – and libido – benefits. Improving your mood, increasing your heart rate and blood flow, boosting endorphins, improving sleep, lowering stress, and enhancing your self-image are all positive effects that can improve sex drive.

Mix it up

Treat yourself to a new hairstyle or shop for a new outfit. Do something that makes you feel sexy. Also, consider another space for intimacy other than your bed. Changing your appearance or location breaks the monotony, enhances anticipation, and consequently improves libido.

Discuss the issue with your physician

Fortunately, there are a variety of prescription options to treat medical issues. If you’ve noticed that your current prescription affects your sex drive, it’s best to openly and honestly discuss it with your physician.

Dr. White encourages you to approach your gynecologist if you feel most comfortable, even if he/she wasn’t the prescribing doctor. If necessary, your doctors can work together to help you.

Remember, medications can affect individuals in different ways. It’s also good to reflect on common life stressors and life stages that may contribute to a lower sex drive. Body chemistry and hormone levels vary between women and among different age groups and can play a part too. Re-assess your expectations and then discuss how to meet them.

Updated December 29, 2017

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