A commonly undiagnosed problem among chronic pain patients is sexual dysfunction. Often times, opioid medications that are prescribed to patients with chronic pain can cause or contribute to sexual dysfunction by inducing deficiency in the endocrine system. This effects hormone production such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone in the testes and ovaries. Unfortunately, this condition often goes unrecognized since most physicians do not address sexual concerns with their patients, and there is a limited amount of literature available to offer insight on this problem.
Opioid-induced sexual dysfunction can sometimes be misinterpreted as a psychological problem, since the symptoms, which include decreased libido and erectile dysfunction are also results of emotional factors like stress or anxiety. Fortunately, screening and diagnostic testing can help identify this as a physical problem associated with prescription painkiller medication. It is recommended that chronic pain patients with daily treatments of prescription pills be routinely asked about symptoms suggestive of sex-hormone deficiency at all routine medical visits and follow-up appointments. Once diagnosed, hormone supplementation is an effective treatment for opioid-induced sexual dysfunction and can successfully bring balance back to the endocrine system.
There are several additional dangers associated with deficiencies in the endocrine system that can be caused by prescription painkiller use, beyond sexual dysfunction. Since the condition affects the hormonal balance in an individual’s body, additional side effects include weight gain, depression, fatigue, increased sweating and severe mood swings. For women, these symptoms can be similar to those of menopause since menstrual irregularities and hot flashes are also common side effects. However, there are also serious side effects that can have lasting damage on an individual’s health, including decreased muscle mass and osteoporosis. It is imperative that chronic pain patients on long-term prescription painkiller treatment have regular check-ups with their physicians and be mindful of all the potential dangers of their medication.
If you or a loved one is struggling with dependency to prescription painkillers, we urge you to contact your medical physicians. For more information on choosing an opiate detox program for yourself or a loved one, please feel free to contact our office directly. The Waismann Method is a safe and proven treatment for opiate dependency that utilizes the most advanced medical techniques available. The rapid opiate detoxification procedure is carried out in a full-service hospital in Southern California by board-certified anesthesiologists while patients remain under deep sedation, so they experience minimal conscious withdrawal or suffering.