The Effects Of Concerta (Methylphenidate) On Sex Drive

Concerta is an extended-release medication containing the stimulant drug methylphenidate, an amphetamine. Concerta influences neurotransmitter levels and central nervous system activity over prolonged periods of time, which can impact libido and sexual energy in conflicting ways.

Methylphenidate is a stimulant generally similar to other amphetamine-class drugs. It is produced in various forms, including both brand-name and generic stimulant medications like Ritalin and Concerta.

Concerta, an extended-release medication, is most commonly prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also occasionally used to treat the sleep disorder narcolepsy.

While it is considered to be safe for long-term use, Concerta is sometimes abused in various ways which can increase a person’s risk of side-effects, including some related to sex drive and sexual function.

Amphetamines & Sexual Function

Concerta is formulated so that, once a tablet is consumed, small amounts of methylphenidate are released over an extended period of time. The estimated length of effect is around twelve hours per dose

During this period, the drug increases the effect of specific neurotransmitters, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.These neurotransmitters all have different functions, but are generally related to wakefulness, energy level, pleasure, concentration, and feelings of wellbeing. 

When taken by those with ADHD, these increased neurotransmitter levels improve concentration, impulsivity, hyperactivity, and other symptoms of ADHD in around 80% of those who try them.

However, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels also have effects related to human sex drive, sexual impulses, blood flow, mental health, and physiological arousal. 

This means that Concerta can have a wide variety of different and often paradoxical sexual side effects on different people at different doses.

Does Concerta Increase Sex Drive?

Many people report increased sexual satisfaction after beginning treatment with Concerta or similar medications used for adult ADHD treatment. There are at least two possible explanations for this, including:

  • The hyperactivity and distractibility that come with ADHD may contribute to an unsatisfactory sex life. This means that effective treatment with Concerta may help people focus on their arousal and the sensations of sex, improving the overall experience.
  • As a stimulant, methylphenidate can increase extraversion, confidence, energy level, blood flow, and sensation (as well as euphoria). All these effects can correspond with increased sexual desire, stamina, and performance.

Elevated dopamine levels are associated with increased libido and pleasure-seeking behavior. The reputation of stimulants like Adderall and Vyvanse for increasing libido and sexual performance is well-known enough that many abuse these medications as sexual enhancers.

Likewise, hypersexuality, an excessive preoccupation with sexual activity, is a known sign and symptom of high-dose amphetamine abuse.

Does Concerta Cause Sexual Dysfunction?

Methylphenidate impacts so many bodily systems the drug can sometimes impair sex drive or sexual performance of some who take it, especially those who take the drug at lower doses over a long period of time.

Methylphenidate-related sexual dysfunction may involve:

  • abnormally low sex drive
  • erectile dysfunction in men
  • issues with arousal and lubrication in women
  • difficulty achieving orgasm in men and women

These side effects are generally associated with elevated serotonin levels, which can increase a person’s overall sense of personal wellness while also reducing sexual interest and sometimes interfering with sexual functions. 

In fact, these are also commonly reported side effects of serotonin-focused antidepressants.

It’s Complicated 

It’s important to note that the sexual side effects of Concerta are not mutually exclusive and can be complex. 

For example, many who use Concerta have reported increased interest in sexual behavior and increased sexual pleasure despite also experiencing erectile issues, delayed orgasm, or difficulty achieving orgasm.

Other Sexual Side Effects Of Concerta

Use of Concerta, including high-dose Concerta abuse, is also associated with serious side effects including an unwanted, persistent, and/or painful erection known as priapism, which continues for longer than four hours. 

Priapism is also sometimes associated with methylphenidate withdrawal.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of methylphenidate, including problems with sleep, headaches, dry mouth, weight loss, tics, and changes in blood pressure and heart rate, may also be contributing factors for sexual dysfunction in some people.

Serious Side Effects

Serious side effects of Concerta use, especially at high doses, can include:

  • heart-related problems including chest pain, stroke, and heart attack (especially in those with pre-existing health conditions)
  • seizures
  • psychiatric problems including hostility, irritability, hallucinations, or depression
  • circulation issues in the fingers or toes
  • vision problems
  • delayed growth rate in children
  • dependence and withdrawal symptoms

Managing Concerta’s Sexual Side Effects

If you experience problems with the sexual side effects caused by Concerta, let your prescribing healthcare provider know. They may be able to adjust your dosage or move you to another ADHD medication that may be a better fit for you.

If your symptoms are a result of stimulant abuse, you should discontinue taking any medications not prescribed to you and seek out help from a professional recovery service.

To learn about our addiction treatment services offered in a comfortable, supportive, and residential environment, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. ADDitude Magazine https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-sex-drive-do-medications-help-or-hurt/
  2. European Neuropsychopharmacology https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25498417/
  3. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682188.html

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: August 22, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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