How Heroin Affects Your Sex Drive


You have to read this. You won’t believe what’s coming next.

Sex is a critical part of a well-adjusted human being. That’s why it’s important to understand the full impact that heroin and other opiates have upon your sex life.

Can heroin impair your sex life?

sex-heroin-opiates-opioidsWe know now that drugs such as heroin, methadone, and oxycodone exert an inhibitory influence on sexual activity. Male heroin users often have difficulty attaining and sustaining erections (erectile dysfunction). Though much of the evidence points to less arousal as opposed to actual impotence. Female heroin users may experience vaginal dryness, or skip menstrual cycles.

We also know that sexual side effects can lead to secondary psychological effects such as depression and anxiety. If sex changes from a pleasurable to a painful experience, it may inhibit development of new relationships.

What’s more…prepubertal opiate exposure may inhibit sexual maturation, especially in males. In other words, delayed onset of puberty, significantly smaller testes and sex-accessory glands (seminal vesicles, prostate, and bulbourethral glands).

Scientific proof

We know now that opiate use impairs sexual behavior. Scientific studies show that opiate use inhibits interest in having sex, depreciates the capacity to enjoy sex and diminishes the ability to start a family. Other studies show that opiates produce disturbances in sexual need, sexual desire, sexual fantasy, erections, orgasms and fertility.

Scientific studies on male rats by M. Leyton and J. Stewart indicate that stimulation of kappa opioid receptors decreased male sexual behavior, locomotor activity, bodily grooming and body temperature. The study also showed that male rats had a decrease in the average number of ejaculations, and longer dormancy periods between sexual activity.

Doctors Katz and Mazer wrote that long-term opioid therapy for either addiction or chronic pain often induced hypogonadism.


Hypogonadism is a medical condition characterized by the body’s gonads producing little or no hormones. Opiate induced hypogonadism is owed primarily to suppression of hypothalamic secretion of gonadotropin-releasing hormone.

Symptoms of opioid-induced hypogonadism include loss of libido, infertility, fatigue, depression, anxiety, loss of muscle strength and mass, osteoporosis, and compression fractures in both men and women; impotence in men; and menstrual irregularities and galactorrhea in women. Sex hormones help control sex characteristics, such as breast and testicle development, and pubic hair growth. They also play a role in menstrual cycles, sperm production and sex drive.

Hypothalamic Pituitary Gonadal Axis

It has been reported on many occasions that opiates suppress the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis and have a measurable impact on gonadal function. The hypothalamus is critically involved in coordinating sexual behavior, including drive, anticipation of sex and sexual function.

Pituitary Gland

As stated above, when opiates such as heroin and prescription painkillers activate opioid receptors within the hypothalamus brain region, they suppress hypothalamic function. Opiate use inhibits the release of Gonadatropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) from the hypothalamus to the pituitary gland. Consequently, the pituitary gland does not release leutenizing hormone (LH) and to a lessor extent follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), into the bloodstream. Insufficient levels of LH in the bloodstream suppresses testicular and ovarian function in both males and females.

Sexual Side Effects of Hypogonadism:

The sexual side effects of hypogonadism include loss of libido, infertility, fatigue, depression, anxiety, loss of muscle strength and mass, alteration of gender role, osteoporosis, and compression fractures and, in men, impotence, and, in females, menstrual irregularities, galactorrhea and infertility.

Opiates and sperm

Science has long understood that if a testicle is damaged to the point where sperm production is compromised, for whatever reason, it is unlikely to regain its sperm making abilities. In fact, many male long-term methadone users are found to be infertile.

Opiate consumption of any sort can produce significant adverse effects on sperm quality. Opiates like heroin typically affect male sperm in three ways – lower sperm count, poor sperm motility and abnormal sperm morphology. Sperm count is the number of sperm in a man’s semen. Sperm motility is the ability of sperm to swim to the female egg (oocyte). Sperm morphology is the size and shape of the head and tail of each sperm. A fourth way that opiates affect sperm is by DNA fragmentation.

Opiates and DNA

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecule that carries the hereditary material in all known living organisms. The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). Human DNA consists of about 3 billion of these bases, and more than 99 percent of those bases are the same in everyone. Current scientific evidence indicates that opiate use can fragment DNA within sperm. DNA fragmentation occurs when there is an alteration in the DNA strands. A high level of DNA fragmentation may cause male infertility leading to lower fertilization rates and/or miscarriage.

Treatment for OIE

The primary treatment for men with opioid induced endocrinopathy is testosterone supplementation. The primary treatment for women with opioid induced endocrinopathy is DHEA supplementation. DHEA is available as a dietary supplement and daily treatment is thought to improve muscle strength, sexual performance, and memory. It would behoove you to see an endocrinologist, because they specialize in the endocrine