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Sex and drugs

Many drugs, both legal and illegal, have side effects that affect the user's sexual function.


The side effect of many legal antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs is the reduction of sexual desire.

Some drugs, such as cocaine and MDMA, increase sensual and erotic sensations, though both may inhibit sexual intercourse itself by causing temporary erectile dysfunctions.

Date rape drugs, such as rohypnol, are notorious for being used to render victims unconscious, dissociated, or severely sedated and thus easy targets for sexual assault.

Perhaps the most common drug used is alcohol. At low concentrations of blood alcohol, social inhibitions are reduced, though in higher concentrations it can also inhibit performance. Many other drugs also inhibit sexual performance.

Because drug and alcohol use is commonly presented as an excuse for unacceptable behaviour, it is necessary to treat the idea of a direct causal relation between drug use and unsafe sex with caution. Drugs may provide a socially acceptable excuse for engaging in sexual behaviours in which people may want to engage but perhaps know that they should not.[1]

Tobacco use (e.g., cigarette smoking), also reduces sexual function, with the incidence of impotence being approximately eighty-five percent higher in male smokers compared to non-smokers.[2]

Hormone therapies can also change sexual arousal levels and levels of sexual aggression.

Since the partial cause of the refractory period is the inhibition of dopamine by an orgasm-induced secretion of prolactin,[3] such potent dopamine receptor agonists as cabergoline may help achieve multiple orgasms as well as the retention of sexual arousal for longer periods.[4] In theory, it can also help to preserve erection after orgasm.

A few drugs can actually increase sexual performance when used to treat erectile dysfunction. These include sildenafil (marketed as Viagra) and tadalafil. Bremelanotide appears to affect sexual desire directly, making it the first scientifically recognized aphrodisiac.[medical citation needed] This is also true of melanotan II, upon which bremelanotide is based.[medical citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Race K (2009): Pleasure Consuming Medicine: The queer politics of drugs Durham: Duke University Press.
  2. ^ "The Tobacco Reference Guide". Retrieved 2006-07-15. 
  3. ^ Haake, P.; Exton, M.S.; Haverkamp, J.; Krämer, M.; Leygraf, N.; Hartmann, U.; Schedlowski, M.; Krueger, T.H.C. (April 2002), "Absence of orgasm-induced prolactin secretion in a healthy multi-orgasmic male subject", International Journal of Impotence Research 14 (2): 133–135, doi:10.1038/sj/ijir/3900823, retrieved 2007-07-30 
  4. ^ Krüger TH, Haake P, Haverkamp J et al. (December 2003). "Effects of acute prolactin manipulation on sexual drive and function in males". Journal of Endocrinology 179 (3): 357–65. PMID 14656205. doi:10.1677/joe.0.1790357. 

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