Drug use may affect sexual health

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Reviewed by Michael Davies, MD Feb. 24, 2011

Males who frequently use cannabis may likely experience erectile dysfunction, according to a recent review conducted by doctor Rany Shamloul.

Previous studies have shown that marijuana affects specific brain receptors, but Shamloul's research found that these same receptors are also thought to be located in the penis.

The sex organ's receptors may become irritated by the active ingredients in cannabis, possibly causing difficulty in achieving and maintaining an erection.

Injection drug users who share infected needles and syringes are at high risk for serious sexual health problems such as HIV, along with their sexual partners and children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 36 percent of AIDS cases in the U.S. are either directly or indirectly related to injection drug use.

Marijuana and other noninjection drugs can also contribute to the spread of HIV through individuals who trade sex for drugs or money, or engage in risky sexual behavior when under the influence of drugs.

Any individual who has taken part in activities associated with high risk for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases may consider using online testing services to determine if they have an infection.

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