Opioidsa common class of drugs for chronic pain whose brand names include Vicodin, Percocet, and OxyContinare among the worst offenders, says Todd Sitzman, MD, a past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. According to studies, opioids can lower testosterone levels, suppress sexual function in men, and cause erectile dysfunction. They can also contribute to low libido and difficulty with orgasm in both sexes.
What you can do to get back on track
Dr. Sitzman says that men taking opioids for long periods can supplement with testosterone injections. If a drug causes erectile dysfunction, they can experiment with another medication, such as Viagra, to counter that effect. Women who experience decreased vaginal lubrication can try over-the-counter creams or lubricants; women who suffer from low libido or difficulty with orgasms may want to consider having their medication dosage adjusted or trying another kind.
Once you are able to tackle the physical impediments to a healthy sex life, there may still be lingering emotional issues getting in the way. For tips on rebuilding your self esteem and recapturing intimacy with your spouse, go to "How People in Pain Can Revive Their Sex Lives."