How methadone affects sex and pregnancy (INFOGRAPHIC)

Check out the effects methadone can have on the sexual and reproductive health in men and women. Also, the risks of methadone in pregnancy and early child development are shown here.

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minute read

How does methadone affect sexual health? We review here. Then, we invite your questions about long term use of methadone as an opiate/opioid substitute at the end.

Methadone affects libido and fertility

Don’t have the urge to have sex? While you’re on methadone, this is normal.

How methadone affects sex and pregnancy (INFOGRAPHIC)

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Long-term use of methadone can cause a loss of libido and significantly lower the desire for intercourse in both, men and women. In medical studies, menstrual cycle irregularities, erectile dysfunction and sperm damage have been noted. So, methadone abuse can not only lower your interest in sexual activities, but can also harm your fertility.

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Pregnancy complications with methadone use

At the beginning of the pregnancy, women should be given solid medical advice by their prescribing doctor and gynecologist. Basically, your dosing is best when it stays in the same. Most pregnancy complications are observed when methadone users try to reduce doses during pregnancy. In fact, medical professionals advise that methadone use throughout pregnancy should be continued (unless the risk is greater than the benefit and a doctor recommends).

Still, methadone is listed in the Pregnancy Category C and prolonged use of the medication can result in side-effects, including:

  • physical dependence in the neonate
  • neonatal abstinence syndrome
  • decreased fetal growth in infants
  • deficit in performance on psychometric and behavioral tests
  • methadone withdrawal symptoms

Effects of methadone on breastfed babies

In the mother’s body, peak methadone levels will occur within 4-5 hours after taking an oral dose. If a baby is breastfed during this time it will receive 2%-3% of the oral maternal dose through the milk.  As a result of ingesting methadone through mother’s breast milk, effects such as sedation and respiratory depression in babies have been observed.

Mothers should be informed and instructed by doctors on how to identify side effects in their baby that have occurred as a result of having too large dose of methadone in the milk. More importantly, mothers should be informed about the choice not to breast feed their babies, but to use a formula instead, or about when is the safest period of time for breastfeeding.

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Methadone’s effects on sexuality and fertility questions

It is a fact that methadone helps addicts stay clean and live a drug-free life. But, when it comes to libido, fertility, conception, pregnancy and breastfeeding, it’s best to listen to the doctor’s guidelines, thus risks will be minimized. If you have any further questions or concerns feel free to ask us by posting your questions in the comments section below.

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About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.

31 Comments

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  1. I am wondering if methadone can make me permanently not able to have children me and my husband tried for over 2 years and i never got pregnant then i got off of methadone and got pregnant now im on methadone again and cannot seem to get pregnant can it cause permanent damage

    1. Hi Aliyah. Have done any tests for your pregnancy issues? I suggest that you consult with a fertility doctor about this.

  2. I’m trying to reduce my methadone before becoming pregnant, what is the usual ml reduction? This is my first time being on it as before I just went cold turkey for ten years but I think that’s too much for my body this time!

    1. Hi Lisa. I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule. Withdrawal can be hard. Here is some suggested reading on the topic:
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310658/
      http://www.agencymeddirectors.wa.gov/files/WA_P&T_Opioid_Dosing_Guideline_092303.pdf
      https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/clinical_pocket_guide_tapering-a.pdf
      Also, consider enrolling into a detox clinic for safe stabilization, and avoiding relapse. You may call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with trusted treatment admission navigator.

    1. Hi Robert. Methadone can cause erectile dysfunction and sperm damage. The side effects will depend on the length of treatment, and previous substance use history. I advise you and your wife to consult a doctor, so they can assess your situation and propose the next steps.

    1. Hi James. Yes! A woman can still get pregnant and have a normal pregnancy and delivery while on methadone. However, it should be closely monitored by her prescribing doctor and obstetrician.

    1. Hi RICKY. I suggest you consult an urology specialist. They should be able to evaluate your situation and prescribe suitable therapy.

  3. I’m on a low dose of methadone only 40mg and I’ve been really thinking about wanting another baby, I’m getting older. Since I’m on a low dose does it still reduce my chance of getting pregnant?? Does this risk continue even if methadone use was stopped? I just wanted to know if you knew of the chances of someone on a low dose and having sex while ovulating and someone who has regular periods of getting pregnant.

    1. Hi Laney. Just like it says in the article, you should consult you prescribing doctor and gynecologist. They should be able to evaluate you individual situation and give you advice on dosage and risks involved. Good luck.

  4. I have a question abput the methadone. I have just recently started dosing and was wondering if your not on any birth control. Basically I see alot of woman at the clinic I go to that have babies under 5 months of age and about a handful of pregnant woman at that. So being on methadone, does that make you have a better chance at pregnancy or something from all these woman with newborns and being pregnant have me wondering is all. Thank you

  5. My cycle stop a month after taking it. My husband really wanted to have another child but it’s really hard being on methadone. I only take 50 milligrams. What can I do

  6. My partner currently on methadone am currently 5 weeks pregnant will the baby be OK from him been on that before me getting caught?

  7. I’m 42 on methadone for 6yrs now and want to get pregnant but don’t know if it’s possible, what do you think, please respond

  8. The only way to pass a drug screen for opiates is to not do it! It takes at least 72 hrs for the body to metabolize opiates! Also with the advances in today’s test kits there is nothing you can do to speed up the process! This includes drinking a lot of water! I drank at least 3 or 4 gallons of water and other juices and still tested positive! And this was a test that I bought from the pharmacy! I hope this helps someone! And if you are thinking about using,think long and hard about the consequences!

  9. Hi I stay in Glasgow and I want to stop to taking methadone anymore. Where I can get help? I’m on mets 60 mlg nearly a year so I want to stop my myself or get the help but don’t know where… Thanks

    1. Hi Aivars. I did a research on Google using these key words: Glasgow addiction treatment, and I found many options: https://www.google.com/search?safe=active&ei=2H_QWpSLPIrNwQKEha7wAg&q=Glasgow%20addiction%20treatment&oq=Glasgow+addiction+treatment&gs_l=psy-ab.3…488.5497.0.5671.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.0.0….0.IKv3Dszv09g&npsic=0&rflfq=1&rlha=0&rllag=55868009,-4231949,2800&tbm=lcl&rldimm=18089349067166005218&ved=0ahUKEwiZqZSa_7baAhVNZVAKHeNEDiQQvS4IaTAA&rldoc=1&tbs=lrf:!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:2#rlfi=hd:;si:18089349067166005218;mv:!1m3!1d72378.66609677894!2d-4.228967199999999!3d55.87107185!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i366!2i388!4f13.1;tbs:lrf:!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:2

  10. I haven’t had a period in 3 months not pregnant especially because I really want it so bad. Am I ruined I’m also 24 with a 6 yr old I’ve only been on methadone for 1 yr

  11. @Lena I strongly recommend stop trying to intentionally get pregnant while on methadone and seek help/treatment immediately. Coming from the bottom of my heart: you have to STOP trying right now, NOW IS NOT THE TIME, what you are doing is extremely irresponsible because of the side-effects to the baby. While I’m sure you would make a wonderful, loving parent IN THE FUTURE; do not bring a child into the world under these circumstances. Even if you were completely healthy (not addicted or dependent to any drugs) there are already risks which are out of your control. Intentionally getting pregnant while addicted to methadone, will gaurentee the baby will be addicted too. This will be very painful to the baby, even if you were on a low dose, you’re not. That’s a very high dose and will be very harmful to the baby. It has likely effected your ability to think clearly because this is a very bad idea. Listen to yourself, just because your not taking street drugs, YOU’RE TAKING DRUGS AND TRYING TO GET PREGNANT. Honestly, it’s really horrible. You are not, the idea is. You don’t want to bring a child into the world addicted to drugs, it’s unfair to the baby. Please seek help for yourself immediately, tell the person who prescribes and gives you your meds that you have been trying. We are praying for you over here. God bless

  12. @john. My husband went to a 38 Day in-patient TX facility a number of years ago. His DOC was opiates/methadone/benzodiazepines. After 3 weeks of sober living in the facility his libido came back, before that he was sexually active once every 3 months or less. When he was discharged it was back to normal. We were not trying to get pregnant then, So I cannot tell you if his fertility was there. Hope this helps!

  13. I have very very low levels of testosterone,it must be my methadone daily addiction for 20 yrs consistent ie 75mg daily,i have tapered down to 25mg daily but still had no lobido,i am very fit,dont drink alcohol; atall & eat a testosterone friendly diet,i have daily avidly tried researching how to increase my testosterone levels naturally & have put them to practice without any success atall,NOONE CAN ADVISE MYSELF PERSONALLY IF I WERE TO TAPER DOWN TO ZERO OPIATES IE METHADONE DAILY UNDER SUPERVISION IF MY TESTOSTERONE LEVELS WERE TO RETURN TO NORMAL,I AM VERY DEPRESSED FROM THE LACK OF ADVICE & INFORMATION FROM THE PROFFESSIONALS I SEE REGULARLY REGARDING THIS ISSUE,COULD YOU PLEASE PLEASE HELP MYSELF AS I HAVE TRIED TO INCREASE MY LEVELS NATURALLY WITHOUT ANY SUCCESS,I THINK IT MUST BE MY METHADONE DAILY ADDICTION THATS THE CAUSE AS I THOUGHT IT WAS MY LEFT SIDED VARICOCELE & BPH THATS THE CAUSE NOTE IM NOT ON ANY OTHER MEDS ATALL & HAVE NOT TRIED TO TAKE ANY MEDS FOR MY BPHIVE ADRESSED MY LEFT SIDED VARICOCELE HOLISTICALLY IE NATURALLY BUT IVE HAD MY VARICOCELE SINCE TEENAGE DAYS & ITS NOT CAUSED MY SEXUAL DISFUNCTION PROBLEMS BEFORE,IM IN DESPERATE NEED TO KNOW IF MY VERY VERY LOW TESTOSTERONE LEVELS I HAVE AT PRESENT IS A RESULT OF 20 YRS OF DAILY METHADONE ADDICTION & IF I WAS TO GO RIGHT DOWN TO ZERO METHADONE DAILY UNDER STRICT MEDUICAL ASSISTANCE WILL I REGAIN MY NORMAL ENDROCINE LEVELS OF TESTOSTERONE EVENTUALLY IE 1 YEAR AFTER STOPPING AL;TOGETHER OF METHADONE FOR MY BODY TO START WORKING PROPERLY AGAIN IE MY LH LEVELS FROM THE BRAIN TO SEND NORMAL SIGNALS TO MY TESTES TO PRODUCE TESTOSTERONE AGAIN AS IT HAS TO BE MY LONG TERM METHADONE DAILY USE THAT HAS CAUSED MY SEXUAL DISFUNCTION,PLEASE CONTACT MYSELF IF POSSIBLE,MANY THANKS JOHN

  14. My boyfriend has been on methadone for a number of years, we have been trying for a baby for 2 and a half years now. Could him taking methadone be responsible for me not getting pregnant?

  15. I’ve been on methadone for 14 years as long term treatment for heroin addiction. I also have degenerative spine disease. I have a lot of pain associated with my back. I’ve recently been self convicted of wanting to be free of the dependence of methadone. So far Ive dropped from 140 me to 116. This is a huge deal as I had given in to the thought of being on it forever. My question /concern is Does the brain efectivly take over at some point, making it’s own natural endorphins, the body’s “feel good” chemical. Are these occurances of people who cant sufficiently make enough endorphans to be able to live a relatively normal happy life? Are the folks who relapse after weening off methadone the proof that not all people can make their own endorphans? I have been a person who has felt with depression on and off through my life, and it makes me wonder if I was already deficient in being able to make my own endorphans sufficiently. Your thoughts on this. An good reading material or studies showing either support or denied studied on the brains abilities to start to remake enorphans after years of abuse and opioid Maintenence .

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