Monday, December 12, 2005

Sexual Problems and Prescription Drugs

by Leonard DeRogatis, Ph.D.

When your physician prescribes a medication for a medical problem, the last thought on your mind is that it could cause another problem. But did you know that one of the most common causes of sexual dysfunction in men and women is a prescription drug?
Unfortunately, a large number of common drug classes can trigger sexual dysfunctions ranging from desire and arousal disorders to problems with orgasm and ejaculation. Frequent offenders are drugs used to treat high blood pressure and depression, to name just two. There are, however, strategies to deal effectively with this problem.
The first step your physician can take is to reduce the dose of your medication. Many times a slight reduction in dose will not affect a drug’s effectiveness but can eliminate bothersome side effects. A second approach is to switch to another drug that has less of the problematic side effect. This strategy may take some trial and error but is often effective. A third strategy is taking a drug holiday: stopping the drug for a few days. During the holiday period the sexual dysfunction may no longer be a problem. Finally, in some cases the addition of a prosexual drug (such bupropion added to an SSRI regimen for treatment of depression) can be very helpful in diminishing sexual side effects.
None of these approaches is foolproof but all have worked in relieving sexual problems. As a patient, it is your responsibility to report the problem to your physician and to work patiently with your doctor to find a solution to this common problem.

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