Sexual and reproductive function

Ironically, some of the drugs that increase a teen's risk of engaging in sexual activity can also impair his or her sexual and reproductive functioning. A large number of studies have shown a link between alcohol use and sexual dysfunction. According to "Medications That May Contribute to Sexual Disorders," a 1997 article in the Journal of Family Practice, chronic alcohol abuse can suppress normal hormonal functions such as sexual arousal. It can also reduce the size of the testes. The 2003 Health Professionals Follow-up Study reported that impotence was more common among men who drank alcohol.

Drugs other than alcohol can also have a negative effect on sexual function. The 1997 article reported that cocaine use may hinder the ability to attain an erection or achieve orgasm. Like cocaine, chronic use of amphetamines also affects orgasm and erection. Barbiturates can impact sexual function as well by reducing desire and making it difficult to achieve erection or orgasm. A 1996 article, "Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants," that appeared in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, found that antidepressant medications may also reduce sexual desire and interfere with orgasm. A 2000 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology reported that sexual dysfunction can occur in up to half the patients treated with certain types of antide-pressants. The wide range of sexual problems associated with drug use undermines the myth that using drugs enhances pleasure or is somehow "sexy."

See also: Drugs and Disease; Drugs and Drinking; Injection Drugs; Risk Factors and Risk Taking

FuRTHER READING

Aggleton, Peter (ed). Sex, Drugs, and Young People: International

Perspectives. London: Routledge, 2006. Brown, Waln K. Drugs and Sex. Talahassee, Fla.: William Gladden Publishers, 2008.

Plant, Moira, and Martin A. Plant. Risk Takers: Alcohol, Drugs, Sex, and Youth. New York: Routledge, 1992.

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