Management Strategies in Opioid Abuse and Sexual Dysfunction: A Review of Opioid-Induced Androgen Deficiency

Sex Med Rev. 2018 Oct;6(4):618-623. doi: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2018.04.003. Epub 2018 Jul 26.


Introduction: Over the last several decades, the opioid epidemic has become a national crisis, largely spurred by the spike in the use of prescription painkillers. With the epidemic came a concomitant rise in the incidence of opioid-induced androgen deficiency (OPIAD). Although OPIAD can significantly impact male sexual function and quality of life, it is an overlooked and poorly understood clinical entity that requires more attention from healthcare providers.

Aim: The objectives of the current review are to highlight the increasing incidence of OPIAD and the importance of an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to identify and treat patients with the condition.

Methods: This review presents the epidemiology surrounding the current opioid epidemic, with a focus on its origin, followed by a literature review surrounding the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of OPIAD.

Main outcome measure: Single-center studies were used to determine the safety and efficacy of various opioid and testosterone formulations on analgesia, sexual function, and quality of life.

Results: There should be a low threshold for obtaining laboratory studies (testosterone, luteinizing hormone [LH], follicle-stimulating hormone [FSH]) on symptomatic patients who have a history of chronic opioid use. Treatment options include opioid cessation, short-acting opioids, and testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). The patient and physician should weigh the risks and benefits of TRT against more conservative approaches. Options such as clomiphene and anastrozole are available for patients who wish to preserve fertility.

Conclusion: Because OPIAD is an underappreciated and underdiagnosed consequence of chronic opioid abuse, healthcare providers should be particularly vigilant for signs of hypogonadism in this patient population. It is reasonable for pain specialists, urologists, and primary care physicians to closely monitor patients on prescription opioids and discuss available options for treatment of hypogonadism. Hsieh A, DiGiorgio L, Fakunle M, et al. Management strategies in opioid abuse and sexual dysfunction: A review of opioid-induced androgen deficiency. Sex Med Rev 2018;6:618-623.

Keywords: Hypogonadism; Opioid-Induced Androgen Deficiency; Opioids; Testosterone Replacement Therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Deficiency Diseases / chemically induced
  • Deficiency Diseases / physiopathology
  • Deficiency Diseases / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / chemically induced
  • Hypogonadism / physiopathology
  • Hypogonadism / therapy
  • Male
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / complications
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / therapy
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological* / etiology
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological* / physiopathology
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological* / therapy
  • Testosterone / deficiency*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Testosterone