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Ambien & Increased Sex Drive

by
author image Michele Noonan
Dr. Michele Noonan is author of "Train Your Brain To Get Thin," has published in journals including the "Journal of Neuroscience" and appears as a science expert on TV and radio shows. Noonan is a former Caltech scientist with a Ph.D. in neuroscience from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and a psychology B.A. from Boston College.
Ambien & Increased Sex Drive
Ambien is a drug prescribed for sleeplessness but often abused for its side effect of increased sex drive. Photo Credit pills image by Allyson Ricketts from Fotolia.com

Ambien, which is generically called zolpidem, is prescribed for insomnia, or sleeplessness. It is recommended that users go to sleep immediately after taking the drug and sleep for seven to eight hours, as side effects as feeling drugged, or memory loss during the period before sleeping can occur. Interestingly, some people abuse Ambien for its reported side effect of enhancing sex.

Clinically Reported Side Effects of Ambien

The most commonly reported side effects of Ambien include headaches, dizziness and drowsiness. Other side effects include balance problems, feeling of being drugged, gastrointestinal problems such as gas and heartburn, tingling feelings or shaking in extremities, changes in appetite, ringing in ears, dry mouth, eye redness, muscle cramps, joint pain, excessive menstrual bleeding, and vivid or unusual dreams. Interestingly, sexual side effects are not clinically reported.

If users do not go to bed immediately after taking Ambien, they can suffer memory loss for everything they do before they go to sleep. Some strange and scary side effects of staying awake on Ambien include eating, driving, making phone calls or having sex when not really desired, and then not remembering it. The makers of Ambien suggest these side effects have a greater chance of happening if Ambien is taken with alcohol.

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Anecdotal Reports of Ambien Sexual Enhancement

Golfer Tiger Woods made recreational use of Ambien for its sexual side effects a hot news topic. One of his mistresses, Rachel Uchitel, claimed,"You get into that Ambien haze. We have crazy Ambien sex." Many doctors refute this claim, stating Ambien has no sexual side effects. Most likely all anecdotal reports of enhanced sex on Ambien are due to reduced inhibitions after being in the drugged and sleepy state immediately after taking the drug but not going to sleep.

Mechanism of Increased Sex Drive

Any drug that decreases inhibitions, such as alcohol, cocaine or marijuana, can lead to increased initiation of sex. Ambien also decreases inhibitions, as seen by accounts of people eating tons of food they would normally avoid. Ambien leads to increased sex drive due to the drugged feeling users get right after taking the pill without going to sleep. Users may also feel uninhibited by the knowledge that they may not remember the sexual episode in the morning due to Ambien's side effect of memory loss. Ambien may also lead to more outgoing or aggressive behavior , leading to initiation of sex, or longer or more varied sexual encounters.

Misconceptions

Ambien does not have any direct sexual side effects. Ambien is a hypnotic drug, and its primary purpose is to cause sedation and treat insomnia. Ambien does not increase blood flow to the genitals or change levels of testosterone, two things that are known to increase sex drive. Thus, Ambien's effect of increasing sex drive is purely mental.

Abuse Liability

Those who use Ambien for its sex-enhancing effects may become dependent on it. Ambien abusers may switch from taking the drug orally to snorting it, leading to worse side effects. Ambien abuse can also lead to relationship problems, as not remembering sexual encounters leads to a lack of intimacy.

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