Bipolar Disorder and Sexuality

Patient Expert

Having bipolar disorder can have a powerful impact on sexuality. Mania and hypomania can cause a powerful increase in sexual desire and can lead to reckless sexual behavior. It's all too common for manic people to have affairs, one-night stands with strangers, or gobble up money using phone sex lines or internet pornography sites. Marriages, partnerships and commitments can be ruined; sexually transmitted diseases can have a lifelong impact or even be deadly.

On the other hand, depression can cause a dramatic loss of interest in sex. A depressed person can feel unattractive, may be just too fatigued for sexual activity, or may be unable to get any physical pleasure out of having sex. Over time, this too may cause serious problems in relationships.

In addition, many medications can cause sex drive to plummet, and others can cause problems with sexual performance. Bipolar disorder drugs that can affect libido or sexual function range through all types - mood stabilizers, antidepressants, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety meds.

If you or your significant other has hypersexuality, loss of interest or problems with sexual performance, it's essential that this be shared with the treating doctor. An out-of-control sex drive is a sign that mania or hypomania is not being well-controlled, while the opposite means re-examining medications, whether it be to control depression better or to address the situation as a side effect of drugs.