Suboxone

Suboxone’s sexual side effects in men

Learn about Suboxone's potential sexual side effects in men. Explore how Suboxone can impact libido, erectile function, and fertility, and find solutions.

By:
Ophelia team
Suboxone’s sexual side effects in men
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Fact checked by
Dana Drew, NP

Opioid addiction affects every aspect of a person’s life. While opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment is designed to help patients recover and achieve a happy, healthy life, it can also have some side effects of its own. 

Suboxone® treatment specifically can cause changes in sexual health and performance for men who take the medication (important safety information). As sexual Suboxone side effects in males are understandably concerning to many patients who might use the medication, it’s worth exploring further.

How common are sexual side effects in men?

Sexual side effects only occur in some patients using Suboxone, and there’s debate over how common these side effects are. The prevalence of sexual dysfunction reported by men taking Suboxone for OUD treatment varies widely. Based on different studies, you’ll find it ranges from 30% to 90%.

A later study found that 77.5% of patients on buprenorphine-naloxone experienced at least one form of sexual dysfunction. The sample sizes in both of these studies were small, casting doubt on the applicability of these statistics to all male Suboxone patients. More current, thorough research is needed to support or refute these claims, as these studies are small and limited. 

What are some sexual Suboxone side effects for men?

Male patients taking Suboxone may experience sexual side effects, including:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Decreased libido
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Difficulties reaching orgasms
  • Male infertility

Sexual side effects will vary between patients, as will levels of severity. Many male patients taking Suboxone report no sexual side effects at all, while others report some form of a side effect. 

Why does Suboxone sometimes cause sexual dysfunction in males?

Suboxone is a medication for addiction treatment (MAT) that contains buprenorphine and naloxone. As a partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine activates opioid receptors in the brain but less intensely than full agonists like heroin. Previous research has shown that opioid use in men is associated with a significantly increased risk of erectile dysfunction. Opioid use, in general, is associated with several forms of sexual dysfunction. 

Additionally, Suboxone may inhibit testosterone, causing sexual side effects. Buprenorphine’s interactions with opioid receptors in the brain can affect the neurotransmitters that control the release of testosterone and other sexual hormones. If the brain doesn’t produce sexual hormones like testosterone, the patients may experience erectile dysfunction or decreased libido as a result. 

Low testosterone may also lead to significantly reduced sperm count, leading to reduced fertility. If you’re trying to conceive, talk to your doctor about the potential sexual side effects of Suboxone. 

What are my options if I experience sexual dysfunction while on buprenorphine?

Sexual dysfunction can damage a patient’s self-esteem and start to impact their dating life during OUD treatment. Luckily, patients who experience sexual side effects while taking Suboxone during treatment have several options to help minimize side effects.

One common option is to take erectile dysfunction medications alongside Suboxone that address the sexual dysfunction side effects. But is it safe to take Viagra and Suboxone at the same time? Yes — you can safely take Suboxone and Viagra at the same time. For some patients, Viagra may address erectile dysfunction side effects.  

Before introducing new medication into your routine, speak with your care team first. Some ED medications, such as vardenafil (Levitra), could affect medication interactions. Combining Levitra and Suboxone may affect heart rhythm, for example.  

Your treatment team can help you find a medication that adequately and safely addresses sexual dysfunction without interrupting your Suboxone treatment. 

How Ophelia Can Help

While more research is needed about how many male patients experience sexual side effects from Suboxone, it’s a growing concern among those undergoing OUD treatment. With the right care team by your side, you can manage uncomfortable side effects. While Ophelia does not treat sexual side effects, including ED, patients should still discuss these issues with their primary care physician.

The best way forward is with a personalized, evidence-based OUD treatment plan from Ophelia. Your dedicated Ophelia care team will consider all your concerns and priorities when designing your plan, including possible sexual side effects. And if you experience unexpected side effects later, you can reach out seven days a week to get the support you need. Your team will adjust your treatment plan as needed for the safest and most effective personalized plan.

See if you’re a candidate for OUD treatment with Ophelia today.

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