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Does Opioid Addiction Cause Sexual Dysfunction in Men?

A new study out of India has found that most men suffering from opioid addiction are also dealing with sexual dysfunction as a result.

The research paper, titled “Sexual Dysfunction in Men Seeking Treatment for Opioid Dependence: A Study from India,” appeared in the latest issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine. This project was led by scientists in the psychiatry department of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh.

One-hundred-fifty men in total were observed, 100 of whom were addicted to opioids for at least a year and 50 healthy participants with no addiction history. After surveying all of the participants, they found that 48 percent of the addicts were seeking treatment for sexual dysfunction partly due to their opioid addiction.

Researchers noted that, “in comparison with the healthy patients, the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in patients with opioid dependence was significantly higher by each measure.” This conclusion from the study in India also matches up with findings from similar research projects conducted in the United States. A 2009 analysis of data from male drug abusers currently enrolled at a treatment center, also published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, noted that erectile dysfunction rates were as high as 52 percent in opioid addicts. Meanwhile, a 2002 survey published in the Journal of Pain found that up to 62 percent of men receiving methadone maintenance for their addiction reported low testosterone levels.

Opioid addiction or using long-acting opioids for over a month can result in androgendeficiencies and menstrual cycle abnormalities, which in turn can lead to sexual issues. Opioids can also greatly affect the functioning of hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) pathways, which control the production of sex hormones, and also cause testosterone deficiencies in both men and women.

However, sexual dysfunction is far from the only symptom associated with an opioid addiction. Opioid users can suffer from a number of physical symptoms including:

  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasms
  • Exhaustion

Heavy opioid users can also experience a number of side effects related to their mood, behavior and overall psychological state including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Social isolation
  • Decreased performance at work or school
  • Hallucinations

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, take action today. Our toll-free helpline can connect you to the best addiction treatment centers to fit your needs. We’re available around the clock at .

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