Can Substance Abuse Cause Sexual Dysfunction?

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Love is in the air in February with Valentine’s Day, but if you’re abusing substances you might be having a common relationship problem–sexual dysfunction. You might be surprised to learn that substance abuse disorder can cause sexual problems in both males and females and can create yet another obstacle in a relationship. And let’s face it–if you’re struggling with the substance problem, you’re likely to have a whole world of problems already. So how do different drugs affect your love life and sexual health?

Which Drug Causes the Greatest Erectile Dysfunction?

Alcohol is the greatest culprit of sexual dysfunction and unfortunately, it’s not only used by alcoholics. Casual drinking has become one of the greatest factors for sexual dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction, or ED, affects males whether they drink alcohol chronically, casually, or binge drink.

Alcohol is a depressant so it depresses your ability to respond sexually whether you are male or female. You literally feel numb when you’re under the influence of alcohol. But there are physiological changes in your body that also contribute to diminished sexual performance. First, alcohol acts as a diuretic, which means it removes fluid from your body. When you’re dehydrated, your levels of angiotensin increase and this hormone is associated with erectile dysfunction. Second, alcohol causes your blood vessels to dilate, which changes the blood flow to sexual organs.

Anyone can experience these effects if they drink too much alcohol, but chronic alcohol abuse can cause long-term effects. In fact, 72 percent of alcoholics experience at least one symptom of sexual dysfunction. Along with a lack of interest in intimacy, there can be three physical symptoms:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  •  Premature ejaculation
  • Lack of orgasm

The good news is that once you stop drinking, the symptoms can subside and be reversed. Women also report sexual dysfunction related to alcohol. As many as 55% experienced a decreased sex drive and over 52% report an inability to reach orgasm.

What Do Opioids and Cocaine Do?

Opioids are notorious for causing ED even when the medications are used therapeutically. Prescription opioids can hinder orgasm in both sexes and decrease your libido. They can also lower your testosterone levels. When abused, the side effects become more severe. Unfortunately, some of the medications used in opioid withdrawal can also decrease testosterone levels.

Cocaine, on the other hand, is known as a great sexual stimulant. It may be able to give you greater stamina at times, but reaching orgasm is more difficult under the influence of cocaine. Why? Cocaine causes vascular damage, so while the body may be quick to reach an erection, cocaine use can lead to a condition called priapism. When priapism occurs, it means you have a painful erection that won’t go away and you need immediate medical attention. The trapped blood flow has to be extracted with a needle before serious damage occurs, including the possibility of amputation.

That should be reason enough not to mix cocaine with sexual activity, but bear in mind that the vascular damage can have long-term effects as well. It can lead to arterial aging and you may have an early onset of plaque or calcification in your arteries. Cocaine also reduces ejaculation volume by over 50%.

How Does Meth Affect Men and Women?

Methamphetamine (meth) seems like the perfect drug for sex and enhances all aspects of performance–or at least it does at first. But over time, the greater pleasure often experienced with meth use degenerates into decreased libido and loss of control. While you may once have been your partner’s dream in the bedroom, now may you suffer from erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.

There are also increased risks associated with promiscuous sex, which affects both genders. As many as 84% of female meth users admitted to having casual sex with partners, and 90% of those were other meth users. Unfortunately, the statistics for unprotected sex were as high as 98% for oral sex, 83% for anal sex, and 56% for vaginal intercourse. With women–and men–often engaging in sex for money, both genders engaged in risky behaviors that can lead to diseases such as HIV or hepatitis.

Is Marijuana Safe?

Marijuana is safe, right? It’s even legal in many states and can enhance sexual activity, right? Wrong. A 2015 study links marijuana use to erectile dysfunction. While some men swear that marijuana makes sex last longer, it may only be a perception that sexual activity is lasting longer. Research has shown that cannabis can create an inhibitory effect on receptors in the penises in animals. The jury’s still out for human usage, but the higher doses and chronic uses of marijuana are likely to inhibit sexual performance.

Prescription drugs and substance abuse can affect many aspects of your life, but particularly your sexual health. One of the most common side effects for men with an alcohol abuse problem is erectile dysfunction (ED). Approximately 72 percent will experience ED or some form of sexual dysfunction. Other drugs can cause sexual dysfunction or lack of interest in intimacy,  such as opioids. Even drugs with a reputation for enhancing sexual performance and drive may seem helpful at first, but eventually, those drugs’ effects wear off and cause problems. Women also suffer from sexual dysfunction related to substance abuse, manifested as decreased sex drive and inability to achieve orgasm. At Everlast Recovery Center, our sympathetic counselors can help with intimacy issues as well as providing behavioral counseling and holistic approaches to healing. Our facility in Riverside, California, can help you get sober and get your life back. Call us at 866-DETOX-25 to get the help you need today.

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