Dilaudid & Sex | Effects Of Dilaudid On Sexual Function

Opioids like Dilaudid may affect the sexual function of both men and women. Although more research is needed, there may be a correlation between hydromorphone use and sexual dysfunction like lack of libido or erectile dysfunction.

Dilaudid is the brand name for the opioid analgesic hydromorphone/hydromorphone hydrochloride. The prescription drug is used to relieve severe pain. It’s similar to other opioids like oxycodone and works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and changing how the central nervous system responds to pain.

Like most medications, Dilaudid comes with a variety of side effects including constipation, drowsiness, sedation, irregular heart rate, low blood pressure, and lightheadedness. 

Unfortunately, another side effect can also be sexual dysfunction for both men and women, and this can affect someone’s mental health as well as lower their quality of life overall.

Effects Of Dilaudid On Male Sexual Function

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), long-term drug use of opioids like Dilaudid can lead to decreased levels of sex hormones and symptoms like reduced sexual desire, impotence, and infertility. 

Sexual dysfunction is, unfortunately, a common problem for people who experience chronic pain and opioids seem to make that even worse. 

Erectile Dysfunction

Long-term opioid use can bring on erectile dysfunction. A few studies found that males who were diagnosed with back pain and prescribed opioids would later be prescribed an erectile dysfunction medication or testosterone replacement.

Overall Sexual Health

Opioid abuse or taking the drug not as directed is particularly harmful to sexual health. Those who abuse opioids may do so to elevate their mood and their sex drive but, over time, the drug can have the opposite effect.

That being said, because there are not many studies on sexual health and opioids, it’s currently difficult to say that the drug directly causes sexual dysfunction.

But besides the lack of studies, depression can also be a factor affecting sexual health. 

And on top of that, antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can also lead to sexual dysfunction. This makes it unclear whether it’s the opioids, chronic pain, or depression that ultimately leads to sexual dysfunction. 

Effects Of Dilaudid On Female Sexual Function

Dilaudid use and abuse can also affect female sexual function as well. It can lead to a reduction in sexual libido and impotence.

Unfortunately, there is even less research associated with female sexual dysfunction and opioid use, and the relationship likely requires further study.

Why Does Dilaudid Affect Sexual Function?

The main reason it’s thought that Dilaudid and other opioids affect sexual dysfunction is because the drug affects hormones in the adrenal-hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal pathway in the endocrine system. 

This is where the production of sex hormones is controlled by the secretion of GnRH or gonadotropin-releasing hormone. 

Opioids stop GnRH which leads to a decrease in sexual hormone production. More specifically, it limits the amount of the luteinizing hormone. And that can lead to sexual dysfunction like lack of libido and erectile dysfunction.

Treating Opioid-Related Sexual Dysfunction

For men using opioids for pain relief and having issues with sexual dysfunction, testosterone supplementation is the primary therapy. 

However, erectile dysfunction medication like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), or vardenafil (Levitra) may work as well. Talk to your healthcare provider about different options if you are having issues.

For women, healthcare professionals often recommend androgen treatment/hormone therapy or oral contraceptive medication for the treatment of sexual dysfunction.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

For those wanting to get off of opioids for whatever reason, addiction treatment facilities, detox centers, and medications like methadone and buprenorphine are available. 

These treatment programs can help with cravings and withdrawal symptoms that make stopping opioid use so difficult.

If you or a loved one live with opiate/opioid addiction or any form of substance abuse, please contact us today for information on our inpatient and outpatient treatment options.

  1. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management — Altered sexual function and decreased testosterone in patients receiving intraspinal opioids https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7517429/
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Drugs that may cause erection problems https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004024.htm
  3. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus— Hydromorphone https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682013.html
  4. National Library of Medicine: PubMed — Erectile dysfunction in patients with chronic pain treated with opioids https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28236471/

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: March 6, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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