A medical practitioner at the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, Dr Arikawe Adeolu, said that long use of analgesics and antidepressant drugs (painkillers), could cause sexual dysfunction and low sperm count.
Dr. Adeolu revealed this on Tuesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). According to him, the class of analgesics that could cause this condition was the narcotic analgesic, an example of which is morphine.
Morphine affects the hormonal balance of the body and causes an increase in production of prolactin and increased prolactin in the body can led to infertility in both men and women.
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He further explained that Prolactin is a hormone released by the pituitary grand in the brain. Its primary role is to help initiate and maintain breast milk production in pregnant and nursing women.
And because prolactin could be induced by the use of this drug, men who used it would experience low sperm count, while women would experience menstrual irregularities.
Both sexes will also experience decreased libido as prolactin blocks the other hormones responsible for reproduction.
Adeolu also added that a class of anti-hypertensive drugs can also cause sexual dysfunction. These drugs are centrally acting anti-hypertensive medication, one of which is methyldopa, commonly known as aldomet. For antidepressants, they affect a particular neurotransmitter which is called serotonin. Serotonin is very important in the control of sexual behaviour.
Once the neurotransmitter level is affected, there is a risk of sexual dysfunction which leads to reduction in sexual drive, inability to have an erection and ejaculation in men. For women it can cause a decrease in libido, that is the sexual drive, delayed orgasm and wetness of the vagina.
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He said that other commonly used medications that could cause sexual dysfunction included antihistamines, ketoconazole (an antifungal), anti-seizure drugs and alcohol. He however, stressed that the risk of sexual dysfunction was only significant with long term use of these medications or overdose. Adding that the sexual dysfunction was not permanent, and that cessation of use of the drugs could reverse the condition.