5 Questions women have before starting Suboxone®

Find answers about Suboxone use for women. From menstrual cycles to pregnancy, get insights to make informed decisions about MAT treatment.

Ophelia team
5 FAQs women have about Suboxone
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Fact checked by
Dana Drew, NP

Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a widespread problem across the United States and has even been referred to as an epidemic. Although OUD persists, hope has been found in medications for addiction treatment (MAT).

MAT is considered the gold standard of care for OUD by expert organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes for Health (NIH). One commonly prescribed medication in MAT programs is Suboxone® (important safety information).

Suboxone can have implications for women, potentially impacting menstruation and pregnancy. Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about Suboxone as a medication and discuss the logistics of undergoing treatment for women.

5 FAQ about Suboxone use in women

Suboxone is a combination medicine that consists of two key components: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine activates opioid receptors, which helps reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings, while naloxone blocks the action of opioids at the brain's opioid receptors.

When prescribed as part of a comprehensive MAT program overseen by a healthcare provider, Suboxone can help effectively treat OUD and has even been shown to reduce OUD-related deaths.

That said, you want to understand how any new medication may impact your body before starting a prescription. Here are some of the ways that Suboxone may affect women who are prescribed the substance as part of a MAT program.

Will Suboxone interfere with my menstrual cycle?

Although there isn't a great amount of data on the topic, research does suggest that buprenorphine may disrupt menstrual cycles. A patient’s periods may be shorter and lighter than usual, or the number of days between periods may change. 

Period irregularity is a potential side effect for many prescription and over-the-counter medications, so it usually isn't any cause for major concern. If it does occur, it rarely makes significant enough of an impact to interfere with an individual's quality of life. 

Can I take Suboxone during pregnancy?

Pregnant women can safely use MAT. In fact, doing so can improve outcomes for mother and child alike. Untreated OUD can increase the risk of issues like preterm birth, stillbirth, neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS), and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Untreated OUD can also increase the risk of maternal death.

Some studies suggest that buprenorphine products like Suboxone have advantages over methadone treatment (an alternative MAT) for women who are pregnant.

So, can you take Suboxone while pregnant? The best answer is to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new medication, regardless of whether you're pregnant.

Can Suboxone make it harder to get pregnant?

Suboxone does have sexual side effects, however it does not appear to negatively impact a person's fertility. Suboxone also should not increase the risk of potential birth defects. In fact, it can allow for a healthier pregnancy for mother and child alike, as OUD treatment can help reduce the risk of problems like NOWS and SIDS.

Women with OUD are also at a higher risk of complications during delivery. For example, they may be more likely to require a C-section. Additionally, the cycle of withdrawal can be harmful to the fetus, making prompt, effective treatment even more important.

Overall, the benefits of undergoing OUD treatment while pregnant are significant and likely outweigh any potential drawbacks, such as the sexual side effects described above.

What sexual side-effects might I experience, and how do I cope with them?

Men and women alike may experience lower sexual desire when undergoing Suboxone treatment. However, research on the topic is minimal and will require larger, more focused studies to paint a more conclusive picture.

When dealing with sexual dysfunction of any kind, for any reason, the best approach is to discuss it with a healthcare provider. Although these side effects aren't necessarily a health risk, they can impact quality of life. Trust a professional to help, and avoid over-the-counter products that promise quick fixes, which are likely ineffective and may even be harmful.

How can I get treatment with Suboxone if I don’t have childcare or other family caregiving support?

Women who serve as caregivers for children or aging relatives—whether that’s their full-time role or on top of a job—may worry that MAT is not readily available to them. Going to rehab can be tricky if you take care of another person or are already trying to coordinate care with work. The good news is that telemedicine has generally made MAT more accessible.

Ophelia allows individuals to get personalized support online; if you're eligible, an online provider will call a Suboxone prescription into your local pharmacy and ensure it’s available for you to pick up. You can set up a meeting schedule that fits into your routine, so you don’t have to worry about work and family obligations.

Telemedicine also allows for more discrete treatment, removes location barriers to care, and reduces disruptions to daily life. You can get treatment while still caring for your loved ones and keeping your job.

Connecting women with MAT

When pursuing treatment for OUD, women face unique challenges. Rehab can be especially challenging for various reasons, from a lack of childcare to financial barriers. Ophelia helps simplify access by offering MAT online. Flexibility is a core component of our methods because treatment should fit into your real life, not put it on pause.

Our process starts by getting to know you and determining the best approach based on your needs and goals. If you are eligible for Suboxone treatment, we make sure you get the medication you need. Your care team is available every step of the way, so you can schedule check-ins 7 days a week, from morning to evening. We work with a growing list of insurance providers, including Medicaid, and accept private pay patients to make our services as accessible as possible. 


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