Opioid addiction and dependence may also have direct effect on the testes and ovaries causing reduced testosterone (male sex hormone) and estrogen (female sex hormone) secretions (Pic. 3). Also, long term use could result in opiate induced endocrinopathy which could predispose users to cases of infertility for both male and females.
Chronic opiate addicts experience sexual dysfunction including reduced libido and sexual performance in males and females, erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation in males.
Psychological factors, such as sedation, euphoria, and the chaotic lifestyle of addicts can impair sexual desire and performance, and these patients often prefer drug-procuring behaviors to opportunities for sexual encounters.
There could be a direct interference of opioid consumption with pituitary release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which could interfere with the menstrual cycle (such as amenorrhea (absent period) in women by blunting of the normal pulsatile release of LH. Regular, periodical menstruation represents for women an aspect of normality and an indicator of female fertility. Menstruation plays an important role in women’s lives and any abnormalities interfere with their fertility and quality of life.
LH and FSH cause the testes to produce testosterone and sperm. The pituitary gland, located in the brain, makes these hormones. Any condition that lowers LH and FSH levels, such as use of opiods, can result in low or no sperm production and low blood testosterone levels. Also, opiods consumption may cause damage of sperm DNA (genetic information). The genetic integrity of the sperm is crucial for successful fertilization and normal embryo development. Thus, natural pregnancy is less likely.
Opioid addiction and dependence may also cause problems with erection. Erectile dysfunction refers to men’s failure to achieve or maintain full erection to the end of coitus. Sexual dysfunction is difficulty experienced by an individual or a couple throughout any phase of normal sexual activity, including physical pleasure, desire, preference, arousal, or orgasm.