Sexual dysfunction with antihypertensive and antipsychotic agents

P. J. Smith, R. L. Talbert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


The physiology of the normal sexual response, epidemiology of sexual dysfunction, and the pharmacologic mechanisms involved in antihypertensive- and antipsychotic-induced problems with sexual function are discussed, with recommendations for patient management. The physiologic mechanisms involved in the normal sexual response include neurogenic, psychogenic, vascular, and hormonal factors that are coordinated by centers in the hypothalamus, limbic system, and cerebral cortex. Sexual dysfunction is frequently attributed to antihypertensive and antipsychotic agents and is a cause of noncompliance. Drug-induced effects include diminished libido, delayed orgasm, ejaculatory disturbances, gynecomastia, impotence, and priapism. The pharmacologic mechanisms proposed to account for these adverse effects include adrenergic inhibition, adrenergic-receptor blockade, anticholinergic properties, and endocrine and sedative effects. The most frequently reported adverse effect on sexual function with the antihypertensive agents is impotence. It is seen most often with methyldopa, guanethidine, clonidine, and propranolol. In contrast, the most common adverse effect on sexual function with the antipsychotic agents involves ejaculatory disturbances. Thioridazine, with its potent anticholinergic and α-blocking properties, is cited most often. Drug-induced sexual dysfunction may be alleviated by switching to agents with dissimilar mechanisms to alter the observed adverse effect while maintaining adequate control of the patient's disease state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-384
Number of pages12
JournalClinical pharmacy
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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