Sex Drive

Your libido is your drive for sex, and men and women are motivated to have sex because it produces pleasure. Unfortunately, many people who use opiates experience a reduction in sexual activity. Men who use opiates often lose interest in having sex and have problems with arousal. Women tend to skip periods and have problems with moisture. Moreover, there’s very little health information available on the subject of opiates and sex. Consequently, many people never connect reductions in sex with opiate consumption.


Scientific Study

A scientific study of 56 men and women (24 males and 32 women) who received opiates for an average of 26 months, showed decreased sex drive or impotence in 96% (23/24) of the men and decreased sex drive in 69% (22/32) of the women.


Opiates And Sex

We know now that opiate use curtails sexual activity, in both quantity and quality. To what degree depends heavily upon the average daily dose, frequency and duration of use, as well as overall general health.


Why does this happen?

The main reason appears to be that opiates suppress the body’s endocrine system. The endocrine system is a collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate growth and development, sexual function, reproduction, and more.


Opioid Induced Endocrinopathy

Suppression of the endocrine system can lead to a condition known as Opioid Induced Endocrinopathy (OIE). Opioid Induced Endocrinopathy means that one or more endocrine glands are not functioning properly. The result being hormone imbalances such as decreased sex hormones, growth hormones, DHEAS and cortisol production. The primary type of OIE is “hypogonadism,” which is atrophy of the gonads. The sexual side effects associated with hypogonadism may include depression, painful periods and skipped ovulation for women, and erectile dysfunction, decreased sexual appetite, and depression for men.


Are Opiates Worse For Men or Women?

A recent study on 26 opiate users (12 men and 14 women), showed hypogonadism in 75% of the men and 21% of the women, suggesting that opiate use may be associated with a higher prevalence of hypogonadism in men than in women. We also know that hypogonadism adversely affects testicular health, which negatively impacts testosterone levels, amount of ejaculate as well as sperm health. If you add in the fact that most opiate addicts are men, than the answer is clearly men.


Male Sexuality

Opiates are associated with decreased serum testosterone levels in men, potentially causing fatigue, hot flashes, weight gain, and depression. As a matter of fact, a substantial proportion of men treated with opiates are testosterone deficient. Infertility is also a very real possibility for male opiate users. Studies indicate that male opiate addicts between the ages of 18 and 64 are infertile at a much higher rate than non-opiate addicts of similar ages. There is also considerable evidence suggesting that prolonged opiate use in men results in harmful autoimmune effects on sperm production.


Opiate consumption has significant adverse effects on sperm quality. Opiates typically affect male sperm in three ways – lower sperm count, poor sperm motility and abnormal sperm morphology. Sperm count is the number of sperm in a man’s semen. Sperm motility is the ability of sperm to swim to the female egg (oocyte). Sperm morphology is the size and shape of the head and tail of each sperm. A fourth way that opiates affect sperm is by DNA fragmentation.

Male DNA

Opiates and other drugs tend to hurt the quality of sperm DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA is the material that carries genes to the offspring.


Female Sexuality

Opiates interfere with the pituitary release of Leutenizing Hormone (LH) and to a lessor extent Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). In females, inhibiting the release of LH interferes with the menstrual cycle. Sexual reproductive hormones in women are called estrogens. There are three primary estrogens – estradiol, estrone and estriol. Estradiol is the predominant estrogen during a woman’s reproductive years.


Female opiate use is commonly linked to decreased estradiol, which may result in menstrual irregularities and infertility. Women who regularly use opiates commonly suffer from one or more of four sexual reproductive irregularities – anovulation, amenorrhea, irregular menses or galactorrhea.

  1. Anovulation: A menstrual cycle without release of an oocyte.
  2. Amenorrhea: Absence of menstruation of at least one menstrual period.
  3. Oligomenorrhea: Irregular Menses: Variation in cycle of more than 8-days.
  4. Galactorrhea: Non-pregnant discharge of milk-like substance from the breast.

Female DNA

Opiates and other drugs tend to harm the quality of oocyte DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA is the material that carries genes to the offspring.

Sex Appeal and Opiate Abuse

Many chronic opiate users consider personal grooming low on the list of priorities. If you consider poor dental hygiene, unwashed hair, and disheveled appearance to be unattractive, than chronic opiate use and sex appeal are inversely related.

Treatment for OIE

The primary treatment for men with opioid induced endocrinopathy is testosterone supplementation. The primary treatment for women with opioid induced endocrinopathy is DHEA supplementation. DHEA is available as a dietary supplement and daily treatment is thought to improve muscle strength, sexual performance, and memory. It would behoove you to see an endocrinologist, because they specialize in the endocrine system.