You have to read this. You won’t believe what’s coming next.
Sex is a critical part of a well-adjusted human being. That’s why it’s important to understand the full impact that heroin and other opiates have on human sexuality.
The next question is ….
Will opiates harm your sex life?
Indeed, opiates definitely impair sexual behavior. As a matter of fact, opiates are commonly described as exerting an inhibitory influence on male and female sexual activity. Opiate users often joke that sex is very low on the list of important things to do. Male opiate users may develop erectile dysfunction, i.e. difficulty in attaining and sustaining erections. Female opiate users may have problems with moisture, menstruation and orgasms. Unfortunately, sexual side effects often lead to secondary psychological effects such as depression and anxiety. If sex changes from a pleasurable to a painful experience, it may inhibit development of new relationships.
Sexual health studies
Studies show that opiate use inhibits interest in having sex, depreciates the capacity to enjoy sex and diminishes the ability to start a family. We know now that opiate use produces disturbances in sexual need, sexual desire, sexual fantasy, erections, orgasms and fertility.
- Scientific studies on male rats by M. Leyton and J. Stewart indicate that stimulation of kappa opioid receptors decreased male sexual behavior, locomotor activity, bodily grooming and body temperature. The study showed that male rats had a decrease in the average number of ejaculations, and longer dormancy periods between sexual activity.
- The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) wrote in 2010 that, “In humans and laboratory animals, opioids generally increase GH and prolactin and decrease LH, testosterone, estradiol, and oxytocin.” Later in that same report the NCBI wrote, “Increasing opioid abuse primarily leads to hypogonadism but may also affect the secretion of other pituitary hormones. The potential consequences of hypogonadism include decreased libido and erectile dysfunction in men, oligomenorrhea or amenorrhea in women, and bone loss or infertility in both sexes.”
The hypothalamus is critically involved in coordinating sexual behavior, including drive, anticipation and function. In the medial pre-optic nucleus (MPON) of the hypothalamus, high dose opiate use inhibits male drive for and anticipation of sex. In the para-ventricular nucleus (PVN) region within the hypothalamus, high dose opiate use impairs penile erection. In the venture medial nucleus (VMN) of the hypothalamus, high dose opiate use inhibits female sex drive.
Sex on heroin
As stated above, when opiates such as heroin bump into and activate opioid receptors in the hypothalamus brain region, they suppress hypothalamic function. High dose opiate use inhibits the release of Gonadatropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus to the pituitary gland. Consequently, the pituitary gland cannot release leutenizing hormone (LH) and to a lessor extent follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), into the bloodstream. Insufficient levels of LH in the bloodstream suppress testicular and ovarian function in both males and females.
Effects on testes and ovaries
Many things can damage gonads. Trauma, alcohol, marijuana, opiates and environmental toxins can all damage gonads. Decreased gonadal function can easily lead to lower than normal hormone levels. Hormonal dysfunction may lead to a medical condition known as hypogonadism, or gonadal atrophy. Hypogonadism occurs when the body’s gonads produce little or no hormones. Sex hormones help control sex characteristics, such as breast and testicle development, and pubic hair growth. They also play a role in menstrual cycles and sperm production.
One in depth scientific study showed that heroin misuse led to hypogonadism. The potential sexual side effects included loss of libido, infertility, fatigue, depression, anxiety, loss of muscle strength and mass, alteration of gender role, osteoporosis, and compression fractures and, in men, impotence, and, in females, menstrual irregularities, galactorrhea and infertility.
When heroin users run out of heroin or quit they tend to experience a reemergence of sexual function. However, the longer a person uses heroin and the older that heroin user is, the less sexual rebound occurs.
Consequences of hypogonadism
Loss of muscle mass and strength
Oligomenorrhoea (irregular menses)
Amenorrhoea (no menses)
Flushing and sweating
Loss of sex drive
Depression and anxiety
Low energy levels
Osteoporosis and fractures
Men on opiates
Men who use opiates such as oxycodone or heroin might be asking themselves, “Why don’t I think about sex as often as I used to?” The answer is quite simple really.
Opiates affect the brain’s ability to produce precursor chemicals required to stimulate testicular production of testosterone (androgens), resulting in low testosterone, which adversely affects the male libido. Testosterone levels are consistently lower in opiate addicts as compared with control groups. Furthermore, lower daily-dose opiate users have higher testosterone levels than higher daily-dose opiate users.
Men on heroin
Men on heroin are likely to perform with less vigor (strength) and less vitality (life force). There is also considerable scientific evidence suggesting that prolonged heroin use has harmful autoimmune effects on sperm production.
Heroin and sperm
Science has long understood that if a testicle is damaged to the point where sperm production is compromised, for whatever reason, it is unlikely to regain its sperm making abilities. The fact is that many male long-term heroin users are found to be infertile.
Women on opiates
Female opiate users often experience fewer sexual thoughts, dreams, and fantasies. Women who use opioids such as heroin or prescription painkillers may notice that their menses is not as on-schedule as it used to be. Opiates affect the female brain in the same way as men but with different results because of the differences in male and female sexual reproductive systems. For females it’s typically missed periods and skipped ovulation.