Xanax (alprazolam) can cause sexual side effects including low libido (libido) and erectile dysfunction (ED). Xanax is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder. It is also sometimes used to treat insomnia, muscle spasms, and seizures.
Xanax belongs to the class of benzodiazepines, which works by slowing the activity of the central nervous system (CNS). Some of the most common side effects of Xanax include drowsiness, dry mouth, irritability, dizziness, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.
This article will explain why Xanax causes sexual dysfunction in some people, how to deal with Xanax and ED, and more.
Does Xanax cause erectile dysfunction?
Many prescription drugs used to treat mental health issues have sexual side effects. Recent research shows that Xanax (alprazolam) has been linked to erectile dysfunction (ED). Erectile dysfunction can involve difficulty getting or keeping an erection, abnormal ejaculation, and delayed or diminished orgasms.
In clinical trials, people who took Xanax for symptoms of panic disorder experienced sexual dysfunction. Among people who took Xanax, 7.4% reported having sexual side effects compared to 3.7% of people who received a placebo (an inactive pill).
In another study, people with symptoms of panic disorder experienced reduced libido, orgasm dysfunction, and erectile dysfunction when taking Xanax. Findings from a 2013 Boston-area community health survey also associated long-term benzodiazepine use with increased symptoms of erectile dysfunction in people aged 30 to 79.
Xanax Sexual Side Effects
Xanax has been linked to a number of possible sexual side effects, including:
The risk of sexual side effects from Xanax may increase for people who take it more often, for a longer time, and/or at a higher dose. A 2018 case study found that higher doses of alprazolam may increase the risk of anorgasmia in male patients.
Causes of erectile dysfunction
Why Xanax sometimes causes erectile dysfunction is not entirely clear. However, the researchers believe the answer may be related to how the drug affects the central nervous system (CNS).
Benzodiazepines like Xanax work by slowing CNS activity and increasing levels in the brain of certain neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry signals between nerve cells), particularly dopamine and gamma-amino-butryric acid ( GABA) – a neurotransmitter that acts as a kind of sedative.
Although this mechanism is effective in reducing stress, it can have the same inhibiting effect on libido and libido. A low libido can lead to erectile dysfunction and other types of sexual dysfunction.
Even if your erectile dysfunction symptoms started around the time you started taking Xanax, it’s possible that your symptoms are due to another physical or mental health issue. Other common causes of erectile dysfunction can include:
Most people take Xanax to treat symptoms of anxiety and other mental health issues. Because anxiety and depression have both been linked to (and can exacerbate) erectile dysfunction, it’s important to treat your underlying conditions as well as any sexual side effects you may be experiencing with Xanax.
Manage erectile dysfunction with Xanax
There are several ways to manage Xanax-related sexual dysfunction, including:
- Lower your dose: Under the supervision of your health care provider, you may be able to take a lower dose of Xanax to decrease the severity of sexual side effects.
- Take Xanax less frequently: Chronic and frequent use of benzodiazepines is linked to higher rates of erectile dysfunction. Taking Xanax less often can improve your sexual functioning. Discuss your dosage schedule with your healthcare provider.
- Switch to another drug: Your healthcare professional may be able to prescribe another anti-anxiety medication with a lower risk of erectile dysfunction.
- Take medication for erectile dysfunction: Taking prescription drugs to treat erectile dysfunction may counteract the sexual side effects of Xanax.
- Treat underlying conditions: Treating the symptoms of underlying conditions, such as anxiety and depression, can improve your overall sexual health.
Talk to your health care provider
If you experience erectile dysfunction or other sexual side effects while taking Xanax, talk to your healthcare provider. He may be able to prescribe you another medicine, reduce your dose or refer you to another specialist who can help you.
Xanax (alprazolam) is a common prescription medication that belongs to the class of medications called benzodiazepines. Usually, Xanax is prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorder. It may also be prescribed to treat seizures, insomnia, and muscle spasms.
Some people who use Xanax report having sexual side effects. In addition to erectile dysfunction (ED), some people with Xanax experience reduced libido, anorgasmia, ejaculation problems, and orgasmic dysfunction. These sexual side effects may be due to the drug’s effects on the central nervous system.
People who experience erectile dysfunction while taking Xanax should discuss with their healthcare provider how their treatment might be changed to reduce this side effect.
A word from Verywell
If you experience any sexual side effects while taking Xanax, don’t be afraid to contact your health care provider. They can offer alternatives and other solutions to help you treat your condition while improving your sexual functioning.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do antidepressants cause erectile dysfunction?
Antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs can cause erectile dysfunction (ED) by affecting the activity of hormones and neurotransmitters. For example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can cause sexual side effects due to the drug’s impact on serotonin, dopamine, and testosterone levels.
Xanax (alprazolam), which is usually prescribed to treat anxiety, can cause erectile dysfunction and lower libido by slowing central nervous system activity.
What are the other side effects of Xanax?
In addition to sexual side effects such as erectile dysfunction and low libido, Xanax can cause side effects like headache, drowsiness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, difficulty urinating, dizziness, nausea, constipation and changes in appetite.
More serious side effects may include difficulty breathing, skin rash, speech or coordination problems, seizures, and disorientation. If you have any of these side effects, seek immediate medical attention.
Does Xanax lower testosterone?
It is unclear exactly how Xanax (alprazolam) affects testosterone levels, as research is limited. The only study found was an older study on rats that showed Xanax did not affect testosterone levels.