Are Medications to Blame for Your Lost Libido?

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Understanding the importance of the libido and being aware of the many medications that may reduce its activity can help you safeguard your sex drive and protect overall wellness.

The Importance of a Strong Libido

In addition to generating sexual desire and physical intimacy, libido may be used as a marker for overall wellness. Typically, those with a strong libido and regularly engage in sex with a committed partner have less stress, greater self-esteem, and improved mood. However, it appears that many individuals have trouble maintaining a healthy libido. Experts estimate that between 30 to 40 percent of the global population experience a decreased desire for sex or low libido for an extended period at some point during their life.

Not only does low libido inhibit the ability and desire to engage in sexual activity, low libido and may also be indicative of serious underlying disorders. Conditions such as thyroid disease, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular issues, and kidney problems can all cause low libido. Therefore, poor libidinal activity may point to these or other health issues. If you’re suffering from low libido or sexual dysfunction, it is important to seek out appropriate medical assistance to discover the underlying cause of the issue.

Learn more about the importance of a healthy libido here.

What Type of Medications Negatively Affect Libido?

Although there are many physiological, emotional, and lifestyle factors that can trigger a decline in libido some of the most prominent libidinal inhibitors are prescription drugs and over the counter medications. Unfortunately, many of these items come with the undesirable side effects of reduced libido and sexual dysfunction. Below is a selection of the most commonly used medications that may cause a libidinal decline.


SSRIs, or serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are typically one of the first medications prescribed when a patient is diagnosed with depression. Unfortunately, antidepressants such as these are widely recognized as having many unwanted side effects. Studies show that SSRIs specifically reduce the transport and activity of certain hormones and other chemicals in the brain, which inhibits sexual desire, ejaculation, and orgasm. Between 30 to 80 percent of patients on SSRIs experience notable sexual dysfunction. Although less commonly used than SSRIs, tricyclic antidepressants can also contribute to a decline in libido.

Birth Control Pills

Many women utilize oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. Women using such medications may also be lowering their libido. Studies show that nearly 15 percent of women taking oral contraceptives experience a decline in libido. It is posited that the hormonal influence of these medications, specifically regarding the elevated amount of sex hormone binding globulin, can significantly impede female libido. Some studies show that even after ceasing oral contraception, levels of SHBGs remain elevated. This suggests that the libido-suppressing quality of oral birth control may remain for some time after stopping dosage.

Birth control pills can also increase the risk of depression – learn more about the connection here.

Anti-Seizure/Anticonvulsant Medications

Some anti-seizure medications may prompt a decline in libido. Typically, anticonvulsants work by interrupting or stopping impulses from moving along nerve cells. By dampening these triggers, the medication helps prevent erratic and involuntary movements. However, the mechanism that reduces the body’s sensitivity to these impulses may also limit the physical pleasure gained from intimate physical contact. This may be due to the fact that seizure medications and anticonvulsants can reduce testosterone levels in both men and women.

Beta Blockers or Hypertension Drugs

The majority of cases of hypertension, or high blood pressure, do not require pharmaceutical intervention. However, many individuals are prescribed medications in the form of beta blockers to treat their condition. This is unfortunate as drugs containing beta blockers may also reduce libido.

Healthy blood flow, particularly to the genitals, is an important part of libido and arousal. Beta blockers and hypertension medications have a notable impact on blood flow that may trigger physical issues such as erectile dysfunction and poor lubrication.


Antihistamines are regularly used to treat symptoms such as congestion, itching, rashes, sinus issues, and more. Many individuals who use these medications may be unwittingly harming their libido. In most cases, libido remains suppressed when actively taking antihistamine and returns once they have been fully flushed from the system. This means that those who regularly take antihistamines to manage long-term issues such as allergies are likely to experience an extended period of reduced libidinal activity. Erectile dysfunction and ejaculation issues are two of the most common forms of sexual dysfunction associated with antihistamine use.


Cholesterol is a key component in the construction of hormones, including testosterone, estrogen and others necessary for healthy libidinal activity. Because statins reduce the prevalence of cholesterol, it is possible that these drugs may inhibit hormone prevalence and by extension libido.

One study found that declining LDL cholesterol levels, facilitated by statins, was associated with an equivalent reduction of sexual pleasure. Statin use may also contribute to joint pain and fatigue, which can limit enjoyment of intercourse and reduce the motivation to engage in it. Furthermore, studies show that statins may also contribute to erectile dysfunction and inhibit a woman’s ability to achieve orgasm.

Learn more about the negative side effects of statins here.

Restoring Libido by Safely Eliminating Medications

Libido is a critical component of wellness. Sadly, many individuals are unwittingly sabotaging their sex drive with over the counter and prescription medications. Rather than relying on additional medications to alleviate sexual dysfunction, it is far better to try and eliminate unnecessary drugs to restore libido. Additionally, you can naturally support your libido by reducing stressors, improving communication with your partner, and exercising.

If you are suffering from low libido while taking any of the medications discussed above, speak with your physician about other treatment options and natural methods of improving sex drive.


1. Rizvi SJ, Kennedy SH. “Management strategies for SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction.”J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2013;38(5):E27-8.
2. Claudia Panzer, MD. “Impact of Oral Contraceptives on Sex Hormone‐Binding Globulin and Androgen Levels: A Retrospective Study in Women with Sexual Dysfunction.” J Sexual Med. January 2006 Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 104–113.
3. Joseph Mercola, MD. “Low Libido? 11 Drugs That Affect Your Sex Drive.” Mercola.
4. Cleveland Clinic Staff. “Medications that Affect Sexual Function.” Cleveland Clinic.
5. Dr. Armon B. Neel Jr. “7 Meds That Can Wreck Your Sex Life.” AARP.

About Holtorf Medical Group

The Holtorf Medical Group specializes in optimizing quality of life and being medical detectives to uncover the underlying cause of symptoms, rather than just prescribing medications to cover-up the symptoms. We are experts in natural, prescription bioidentical hormone replacement and optimization, complex endocrine dysfunction, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease.

We’ve dedicated our practice to providing you the best in evidenced-based, integrative medicine that’s not only safe and effective, but provides measurable results.