Ask the Experts

ADHD Sex Drive: Do Medications Help or Hurt?

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

There is no formal or published research that I am aware of that addresses the question of how ADHD medication affects the level of interest a diagnosed adult 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 ADDer 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 ADD/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.

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