Meth’s Effects On Sexual Drive & Health

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One of the most widely used and extremely potent amphetamines available today is methamphetamine (also known as meth). This synthetic substance created from common household chemicals produces an intense euphoric high lasting for hours. As it interacts with the brain’s reward system, many find themselves in cycles of repeated use leading to a host of unwanted consequences. Some of the most prevalent side effects of both immediate and extended periods of meth use are how it affects the user’s sexual drive and health.

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How Does Meth Affect Sexual Drive & Libido?

A common connection that many drug users make is how their drug of choice impacts and affects their sexual drive and performance. When speaking of stimulants, and specifically amphetamines, there is a general understanding amongst many who use meth that one of its side effects is the increase in both immediate sexual drive as well as sexual gratification. Though it is often a secondary side effect, the interaction between meth use and sexual desire and behavior is a significant enough benefit that many users report it high on the list of reasons that they continue to use.

Libido is the clinical term for the encompassing factors that produce a sexual drive instinctive to humans. Factors that can impact this drive are hormonal balances, energy levels, diet, and age. Along with the natural factors, substances ingested, specifically illicit amphetamines, can play an important role in the sudden spike in libido. A study published in 2011 (1) found that the sex drive among the rats who were tested was 7 times higher than the baseline for sexual desire for the same animals when given methamphetamine. This included both when the rats were under the influence of methamphetamine as well as 2 weeks after they were administered a dose.

Short-Term Effects on Sexual Performance

As with most illicit substances, the effects of methamphetamine on the user’s sexual drive and performance is only in the short term. Users report increased sexual drive in both men and women. Users also report heightened sensation throughout the sexual experience with more intense orgasm. Stamina is also reported to dramatically increase throughout the sexual experience when one or both partners are under the influence or have recently used powerful stimulants like methamphetamine.

Many of the related side effects of meth use on the user’s sexual performance and experience were centered around both the physical stimulation of the brain and body as well as the decreased inhibition (2) that came as a result of being high. Many users report that they were able to have a more enjoyable sexual experience while high due to the stunted levels of shame or embarrassment that they had associated with sexual behaviors in the past.

Meth Use May Cause Increased Risk of Unsafe Sex

Many studies conclude that the use of methamphetamine is associated with its effect on the judgment of the user, especially related to sexual activity. Recent research (3) concludes that when both men and women were administered moderate amounts of methamphetamine they were between 67% and 87% more likely to choose someone as an acceptable sexual partner for unprotected sex based solely on appearance.

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Sexual Dysfunction Caused By Meth

Due to methamphetamine having such a dramatic effect on the brain and body, over extended periods of time (4) with such high levels of unnatural stimulation, the nervous system begins to struggle to regain normal function. Neuropathy and other miscommunications throughout the nervous system develop over time causing the user to have decreased or impaired sensation when engaging in sexual behavior.

Long-Term Effects of Meth on Sexual Performance & Health

Along with its effect on the central nervous system, methamphetamine also impacts the release of chemicals within the brain itself causing an imbalance in the natural release of these chemicals. Many of these chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, are responsible for sexual drive and connection to sexual partners. Over time this can lead to lack of sexual drive or desire and poor intimacy when engaging in sexual behavior.

Does Meth Cause Different Effects In Men & Women?

Many of the effects of long term meth use on sexual drive and experience cause similar side effects in both men and women. Decreased sexual drive and sensation over time appears to affect both men and women with the same general effect. Problems such as impotence can come as a result from poor circulation caused by extended periods of meth use as well impacting men specifically.

Can Meth Cause Fertility Issues?

Though the impact of methamphetamine on fertility has not been determined, there is growing research showing that use of meth throughout a pregnancy can lead to health impacts on the development of the fetus. Low birth weight and poor fetal maturation have been related to frequent meth use throughout the developmental stages of a pregnancy.

Along with the direct impacts of methamphetamine, a growing concern is the potential for the introduction of unknown substances into the meth and how it will affect development during pregnancy. With an increase in foreign substances like fentanyl showing up in meth, another risk is added to the already dangerous meth use behavior.

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If you or someone that you love has felt the impact of a methamphetamine use disorder in their life, Guardian Recovery is here to help. We have committed ourselves to provide the highest quality of substance use treatment to those who may be struggling. Our admissions team is available 24/7 to answer questions and assess you for the best path towards achieving your long term recovery goals. Call Guardian Recovery today for a free, no obligation, insurance check.

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  1. https://www.jneurosci.org/content/31/45/16473
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3466046/
  3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/newsroom/news-releases/study-explores-link-between-methamphetamine-use-and-risky-sexual-behavior
  4. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-are-long-term-effects-methamphetamine-misuse

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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