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  • The Effects Of Heroin On Sex & Intimacy

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    The Effects Of Heroin On Sex & Intimacy

    The illicit drug heroin is a potent opioid that can impact sexual activity. In fact, there are a number of side effects of heroin use which may contribute to sexual dysfunction. Both men and women may experience unwanted side effects that cause problems with sexual function. 

    Heroin is a schedule I controlled substance which has a high potential for abuse, yet has not been accepted by the United States as appropriate medical treatment.

    Effects Of Heroin On Sexual Health

    Heroin use can lead to problems with sexual function as well as other sexual health issues, depending on the severity of drug abuse.

    Sexual Side Effects Of Heroin In Men

    Men who abuse heroin may suffer from erectile dysfunction, or difficulty maintaining an erection. Those with a long history of opioid use may suffer from premature or delayed ejaculation.

    This may lead to a decrease in sexual performance or sexual behavior, which can impact intimacy between sexual partners. Over time, heroin-related drug use may lower the testosterone levels in men as well.

    Sexual Side Effects Of Heroin In Women

    According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), those with a heroin addiction may have a decrease in sexual desire. In addition to this, women may develop irregular menstrual cycles.

    Amenorrhea, or the full absence of menstruation, may occur due to how this central nervous system (CNS) opiate drug affects the pituitary hormones. 

    Those who experience general side effects from heroin such as depression or other mental health issues may also lead to an absence of sex or a lack of interest in sexual activity.

    Heroin Abuse & Intimacy

    Although those who abuse heroin long-term may suffer from sexual dysfunction or develop a lack of interest in sex, other problems may arise which can impact intimacy between lovers. 

    Since heroin is an opiate which attaches to opioid receptors in the brain, releasing dopamine and creating euphoric effects, those who abuse the drug may seek out pleasurable activities, including sex.

    Sex With Multiple Partners

    Sex is an intimate act, but those who abuse heroin may experience extreme side effects such as a lack of inhibition, sedation, and seeking out pleasure. For some, sexual behavior may be desired while on heroin.

    However, those who have multiple sexual partners or engage in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex, may have an increased risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) which can correlate to sexual function. 

    This can also lead to intimacy problems, as couples may have different sexual wants and needs.

    Infections & STDs

    Those who transition from smoking or snorting heroin to injecting the substance may experience a rush of euphoria almost instantly. This is because the heroin enters your bloodstream much more quickly.

    Not only can this increase the likelihood of an overdose, it can lead to the use of unclean needles. This form of drug abuse is a risk factor for developing infections including hepatitis and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

    Since STDs pass from one person to the next, if a person develops a STD, intimacy between spouses may be affected. This is why safe sex is important, but due to the lack of inhibitions caused by heroin, a person may make poor choices which can impact sexual health.

    Heroin Addiction Treatment

    If you or a loved one struggles with a substance use disorder, substance abuse treatment programs offering medication-assisted treatment can help. 

    Medication-Assisted Treatment

    Methadone is one medication that may be prescribed to treat heroin addiction. While methadone maintenance treatment may prove beneficial, the medication can impact sexual health and result in erectile dysfunction in men. 

    The same can be true for the medication buprenorphine, another drug used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs. While sexual side effects may occur in MAT, the benefits of no longer using heroin likely outweigh the potential risks or side effects.

    To learn more about how we treat drug addiction in inpatient or outpatient healthcare settings, please contact Ark Behavioral Health today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
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