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Vyvanse Sexual Side Effects in Females and Males

Last Updated: September 9, 2021

Authored by Isaak Stotts, LP

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Vyvanse, the brand name of drug Lisdexamfetamine, is a highly effective medication used for the treatment of symptoms associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in patients over the age of five, as well as moderate-to-severe Binge Eating Disorder (BED) in adults. Although very effective, similar to other amphetamine stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin, it has a high potential for abuse. As such, under the policy of the United States regarding controlled substances, Vyvanse is a Schedule II drug. Furthermore, several of Vyvanse side effects can be quite unpleasant to users and some of them may even pose a serious risk to their health, mostly due to the drug interactions. This article will focus on Vyvanse sexual side effects in men and women and discuss how they may manifest themselves and how users can manage them.

Influence Of ADHD Medications On Sexual Behavior

To understand what possible effects Lisdexamfetamine may have on a user’s sexual function, one must first understand Vyvanse’s mechanism of action. Similar to other amphetamine medications in use for ADHD, Lisdexamfetamine is a central nervous system stimulant. Through its stimulant action, it promotes the release of monoamine neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin from presynaptic neurons, and prevents their reuptake from the synaptic cleft. The end result of this action is the elevated levels of the aforementioned neurotransmitters within the central nervous system. While this is desirable for the management of conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Binge Eating Disorder (BED), it also has a variable impact on other physiologic functions which are regulated by these neurotransmitters. One such physiologic function governed by these neurotransmitters is human reproductive behavior and its various stages outlined by the Whipple and Brash-McGreer Sexual Response Cycle.

A woman looks at Vyvanse pills.

It is commonly conjectured that Dopamine increases sexual desire, whereas Serotonin decreases it. Based on this information, Lisdexamfetamine would have a dual effect on reproductive behavior. One, through increasing levels of Dopamine it would stimulate this behavior, and two, through increasing levels of Serotonin it would suppress it. Therefore, this medication simultaneously increases and decreases reproductive behavior and desire. Although this may seem confusing, it makes sense when information from various studies, albeit very few and with mostly inconclusive results, that take a look at the effects of amphetamines on sexual behavior and functioning is analyzed. The results show variable effects of Lisdexamfetamine use on reproductive behavior.

According to an analysis published in the American Medical Association’s Journal of Psychiatry, amphetamine use had the ability to both increase and decrease sexual behavior, and in some cases have completely no effect. Thus, a reader can conclude that the exact effect that the use of Lisdexamfetamine may have on their sexual functioning is quite variable and may include a decrease, an increase, or completely no change in libido.

Lastly, the reader should also keep in mind that conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Binge Eating Disorder (BED) can have their own impact on an individual’s sexual drive and behavior. For example, patients with ADHD report increased desire, more masturbation frequency, less satisfaction, and more sexual dysfunctions than the general population. Therefore, it is important to define and differentiate the characteristics of the reported dysfunction and to delineate their true cause in order to identify whether they are true Vyvanse sexual side effects or related to another medical condition.

Changes In Sex Drive During Vyvanse Treatment

As mentioned previously, Vyvanse sexual side effects related to changes in either behavior or desire during treatment are variable. What is more, these types of adverse effects appear to not be frequent as they are not included within the prescribers information published by the FDA that provides a list of commonly reported side effects associated with Vyvanse use.

Furthermore, changes in sexual behavior and desire could be ascribed to the therapeutic effect of the medication rather than its adverse effects. For example, if a patient with untreated Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder experiences more sexual desire and increased frequency of masturbation, they may report a decrease in the level of sexual desire as well as the frequency of masturbation upon beginning therapy with Vyvanse. This does not mean that the medication has a side effect of decreased libido, rather it returned the patient’s ADHD-related increased sex drive back to normal levels, which a patient may misconstrue as a side effect. The same phenomenon may work in reverse as well and can similarly be applied to adults with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) being treated with Vyvanse.

In the following section, a slightly more detailed view of Vyvanse side effects in females as well as Vyvanse side effects in males will be discussed in order to provide more specific information.

Vyvanse Side Effects In Males

In addition to variable Vyvanse side effects in males related to changes in desire or libido, male patients may experience Erectile Dysfunction (ED) as a result of amphetamine action on peripheral circulation. Erectile Dysfunction or male impotence is defined as the inability to achieve or sustain an erection sufficient in rigidity or duration for sexual intercourse, which is present for a minimum of 6 months.

To achieve an erection, a male’s body must produce vasodilation of the helicine arteries within the corpora of the penile shaft, which subsequently become engorged with blood to maintain an adequate erection. Amphetamines are known to cause constriction of smaller peripheral blood vessels, such as the helicine arteries, and can contribute to the development of organic Erectile Dysfunction. Organic Erectile dysfunction, itself may lead to more sex-related problems. Males with erectile dysfunction may feel embarrassed and suffer from performance anxiety and may even lose interest in sexual intercourse all together.

Typically, these particular ​​Vyvanse side effects in males are manageable and can be helped either by “watching and waiting” to see if it will dissipate itself as the body gets used to lisdexamfetamine or by altering the dose, or as a last resort, switching medications. The latter two options should only be tried in those men who have persistent erectile dysfunction related to Vyvanse use and only through consultation with and the help of a medical doctor, as the alterations in dosage may result in Vyvanse overdose.

Vyvanse Side Effects In Females

Information on Vyvanse side effects in females is even more ambiguous. The range of experienced sexual Vyvanse side effects in females  can include lack of sexual desire, inability to become aroused or maintain arousal, difficulty achieving orgasm, or pain during sexual stimulation, also known as dyspareunia.

One more aspect that warrants a mention is the effect of Amphetamine abuse on female sexual behavior, which could very well be applied to Vyvanse if abused. A study conducted at the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine showed that use of methamphetamines, which are chemically similar to amphetamines, dramatically increases the female sexual drive which is subsequently associated with increased engagement in risky sexual behavior and adverse health outcomes.

A man drinks Vyvanse pill.

Vyvanse Hypersexuality

Vyvanse Hypersexuality or increased sexual behavior, whether expressed by increased sexual desire, excessive masturbation or even intrusive and time-consuming thoughts and fantasies about sex can be uncommonly associated with Vyvanse use. The reason for this hypersexuality is unknown. However, the same study as mentioned above, conducted by the  University of Maryland Baltimore School of Medicine conjectured that interactions of amphetamines and sex hormones leads to changes in the neural substrate of key nuclei involved in mediating reproductive behaviors, and these changes may underlie ability of amphetamines and amphetamine-like drugs to enhance reproductive behaviors.

More public health and scientific studies are required to investigate and shed light on the link between amphetamines, including this medication, and reproductive behavior. Only then can a concrete answer be given based on the provided information.

Ways To Minimize Vyvanse Sexual Side Effects

Vyvanse side effects in females and males can be managed in several ways. The primary step should always be to contact the prescribing physician to determine the type and the true cause of the experienced dysfunction.

  • One approach that can be taken is “watching and waiting” to see if the body will adjust to Lisdexamfetamine and the symptoms of sexual dysfunction will dissipate on their one.
  • Another approach involves a dose alteration with the help of the prescribing doctor. The average dose of Vyvanse is 30 mg daily, and some patients may need to start with 10 mg, gradually increasing the dose as it becomes necessary.
  • The last and the most drastic option involves switching to a different medication. This last option is reserved for cases in which Vyvanse causes intolerable and long-term adverse effects, as well as discomforting withdrawal symptoms.

Stimulant drugs which can be used for alternative treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) include Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta. While Adderall is known to cause erectile dysfunction, Ritalin and Concerta both work on methylphenidate that often increases sex drive. Among non-stimulant ADHD medications, Wellbutrin is best known for having few adverse effects related to.

Lisdexamfetamine Related Sexual Dysfunction And Medical Help

Vyvanse affects sex life in different ways. Physically, Vyvanse sometimes causes erectile dysfunction or hypersexuality in both males and females. Psychological effects may include lack of interest in sex, obsessions, and hyperfocus. While some people may feel shy or embarrassed to discuss their problems related to intercourse with their doctors, it is a crucial step towards improvement. Usually, sex dysfunction caused by lisdexamfetamine are treated with watching and waiting, dosage correction, or switching to a different ADHD medicine. In extreme cases, it is better to join an addiction treatment program to speed up recovery.

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Published on: April 1st, 2019

Updated on: September 9th, 2021

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.

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