Changes that can have adverse effects on the sex life
Many people have reported experiencing sexual dysfunction during the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions on people’s activities, economic issues, increased psychological stress and reduced entertainment have impacted the quality of their sex life.
Other physical problems, such as erectile dysfunction and lack of vaginal lubrication in women, can interfere with sexual pleasure. Some medications can also affect libido.
It is widely known that being overweight can lead to several health issues, including heart disease, high cholesterol, joint pain and sleep apnea. However, it is less well known that obesity can also impact the sex life by lowering libido.
In men, obesity may cause an increase in the levels of SHBG which binds testosterone and makes it less available to stimulate sex drive. In addition, the narrowing of blood vessels caused by obesity can make it difficult to get to a climax during intercourse.
In women, obesity can also lower sex drive because it can lead to a low self-esteem and body image. This can make women feel like they are unattractive or not worthy of a relationship. Fortunately, many people find that their sex life improves after they lose weight. It is important to be able to love oneself and accept their body size whatever it is.
Depression affects the brain chemicals that control both mood and libido. Those affected by the condition are less likely to be interested in sex, and they may even lose interest in other activities that bring them pleasure. These changes are caused by imbalances in neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Depression can also affect the libido of both men and women. In women, it can cause anorgasmia and reduce the natural lubrication of the vagina. In men, it can lead to erectile dysfunction and delayed orgasms.
Many antidepressants can have adverse sexual effects. These include drugs that boost the levels of brain chemical serotonin, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These can interfere with normal communication between the brain and sex organs. However, there are other medications that focus on different brain chemicals and are less likely to have these side effects. Your healthcare provider can help you find the right balance between treating depression and preserving your sexual functioning.
Blood pressure medications
Persistent high blood pressure reduces blood flow throughout the body, including to the pelvic area. This lowers libido in men and can cause erectile dysfunction.
For women, it may decrease vaginal lubrication and reduce the ability to achieve orgasm. If this happens, it is important to discuss it with your doctor and explore other options for birth control or medications.
Medications used to treat mental health conditions can also reduce libido, especially among young people. For example, atypical antipsychotics like haloperidol (Haldol) and risperidone (Risperdal) can reduce sexual desire, but other types of antipsychotics do not have this effect.
Almost all drugs used to treat high blood pressure affect sexual function to some degree. However, one study found that ACE inhibitors (which block a key enzyme that creates angiotensin II, a hormone that raises blood pressure) do not seem to have the same effect on libido as other antihypertensive medications. Another study found that b blockers and diuretics are more likely to cause sexual dysfunction than angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor antagonists.
Cancer or its treatment
It’s a sobering fact that cancer and its treatment can squelch libido, make sex painful or even impossible, mess up the ability to reach orgasm, or cause other changes in sexual desire. This is true for both men and women. Surgery for prostate, rectal and testicular cancers, radiation therapy to the pelvic area or certain medicines may all affect a person’s ability to engage in sexual activity.
It’s important for couples to talk about how cancer and its treatment might affect their sex lives. Then, if problems arise, they can work together to find solutions. Also, cancer patients who are in their childbearing years should learn about the possibility of chemo-related pregnancy because chemotherapy drugs can remain in semen for some time after treatment is over. For this reason, they should use barrier protection, such as condoms or dental dams. These are available at drug stores. They also should ask their health care team about this before starting treatment.