ADHD Sex Drive: Do Medications Help or Hurt?


"Do the drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cause side effects that improve or negatively affect an adult's libido, or interest in sex?"

ADHD drugs and medicine

ADDitude Answers

There is no formal or published research that I am aware of that addresses the question of how medication affects the level of interest an adult with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has for sex, just anecdotal experience of practitioners. In general, people see one of two opposite responses. By far, the most common is that sex becomes better because the ADHDer isn’t distracted in the middle of making love. Medication helps patients — men and women — focus, pay attention, suppress distractions, and stay in the moment.

The other side effect of ADHD medication affects males only. Sex drive and the ability to maintain an erection are impaired presumably due to the mild to moderate serotonergic effects of both methylphenidate and especially amphetamine. Impotence is not uncommon with alpha-2 agonists, such as clonidine and guanfacine and, when coupled with the serotonin effects of amphetamine, is often the reason (along with severe dry mouth) that adult males stop taking guanfacine. Adult male patients who do well on amphetamine, not methylphenidate, have to plan for sexual activity by forgoing medication prior to anticipated sexual activity. Drugs like Viagra help, if the patient can get an erection to begin with.

ADDitude does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this web site is provided for educational purposes only. See additional information.

Posted by William Dodson, M.D.

A Reader Answers

In my case, Adderall totally zapped my desire and ability to enjoy. My husband is normal and healthy — this is not fair to him. Any other ADHD meds that don’t do this? I’m very frustrated by this. He tries to understand but still thinks I no longer desire him.

Posted by theresaADHD

A Reader Answers

I’m on Vyvanse and actually found this thread in the course of looking to see if anyone else is having the opposite effect. I feel like on Vyvanse my sex drive is stronger! Of course I am a guy, so who knows if it’s really the meds but, it sure seems like it!

Posted by ADDWarrior5

A Reader Answers

I’m a woman, so my perspective is probably different, but stimulants definitely help me stay more focused during sex. I can be more “present” rather than thinking about irrelevant, random stuff that pops in and out of my mind! It’s definitely been a help there!

Interesting thread...

Posted by ADD_Coach_Lynne

A Reader Answers

After time it does get a little better, but generally stimulants and sex life don’t go together well. They are mostly vasoconstrictors which cause reduced blood flow to the extremities. I switched to Dexedrine because the active ingredient doesn’t affect me that way — Ritalin was really bad at first, got a little better but was still bad. Adderall was horrible (for me, in that way) and I got off it immediately. I have had no negative side effects pertaining to sex life with Dexedrine ER.

Posted by JetDesign

A Reader Answers

My husband started Ritalin in September. I think it’s a catch-22 — I feel like he’s more in the moment and pays more attention to me during sex, but he does at times have a hard time performing. He prefers to stay on the quick release form of Ritalin. Yes, he has to take it every 4 hours, but we’ve found that at the end of the 4 hours that side effect has worn off. It takes some planning and working around, but we’re finding what works.

Posted by niklongenecker

Read the original ADDConnect discussion here.


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Dr. Bill Dodson is a board-certified adult psychiatrist who has specialized in adults with ADHD for the last 23 years. He has written on how the basic research on ADHD can be applied to everyday clinical practice.

Dr. Dodson is currently in private practice in Denver, Colorado, at the Dodson ADHD Center. A former faculty member at Georgetown University and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Dodson is a Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and was the 2006 recipient of the Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished National Service Award for his work with people with disabilities.

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