Vyvanse is the brand name of a drug called lisdexamfetamine dimesylate, which doctors often prescribe to treat people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or severe binge eating disorder. Vyvanse belongs to a class of drugs called amphetamines, and some research links these drugs to hypersexuality.
Hypersexuality means abnormally increased sexual activity or sexual thoughts and urges.
It is perfectly normal to think about sex, and most people experience periods when they think about it more than usual. However, with hypersexuality, these thoughts or behaviors interfere with everyday life and relationships.
As with most amphetamines, changes in libido and sexual function are among the possible side effects of Vyvanse. All drugs have potential side effects, but it is important to remember that not everyone will experience them.
People commonly go through stages of feeling more or less sexual. However, the symptoms of hypersexuality, which is also called hypersexual disorder, tend to persist for longer periods.
The symptoms of hypersexuality may include recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, urges, or behavior that meets four or more of the following criteria:
- spending excessive amounts of time being fully preoccupied with sexual thoughts or planning for and engaging in sexual behavior
- repeatedly engaging in sexual fantasies, urges, or behavior in response to feeling anxious, depressed, bored, or irritable
- frequently engaging in sexual thoughts and activities in response to stressful life events
- being unsuccessful in attempting to control or reduce the frequency of sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior
- engaging in sexual behavior with no regard for the risk of causing physical or emotional harm either to themselves or to others around them
Sexual behaviors may include:
- having sex
- watching pornography
- taking part in telephone sex or cyber sex
- going to strip clubs
Research has linked hypersexuality to the use of amphetamines, particularly in males.
In a study of 1,159 males who were using the drugs illicitly, half of the participants said that the drugs had affected their sex life. They reported reduced sexual satisfaction and more intense orgasms. Some said that the drugs had increased their sexual desire, but others felt that this had decreased.
Some doctors prescribe Vyvanse to treat the symptoms of ADHD, which include:
- difficulty paying attention
- acting without thinking
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the warning signs of ADHD can include:
- overlooking or missing details and making careless mistakes
- problems sustaining attention while listening, having conversations, or reading
- inability to listen to direct communication
- not being able to follow instructions
- losing focus or becoming easily sidetracked
- problems organizing tasks and activities
A growing body of evidence suggests that ADHD also has an effect on sexual activity. In one study from 2006, researchers found that people who had ADHD from childhood tended to start having sex earlier and have more sexual partners and more casual sex than people without ADHD.
Binge eating disorder
Doctors may also prescribe Vyvanse to help treat BED. People with this condition typically have binge eating episodes that last about 2 hours and involve at least three of the following behaviors:
- eating much more quickly than usual
- eating to the point of feeling uncomfortably full
- eating large amounts despite not feeling hungry
- eating alone to hide feelings of embarrassment relating to eating
- feeling disgusted, distressed, depressed, or guilty after the binge
Such binge eating tends to happen at least once a week for a minimum of 3 months. The person does not usually purge, or make themselves sick, afterward.
Females living with eating disorders are more likely to suffer from sexual dysfunction. A review of current research reported that women with anorexia, bulimia, or BED had fewer sexual partners and fewer sexual relationships than women without any of these conditions.
Eating disorders can cause sexual dysfunction and decreased libido. A person who has an eating disorder may also avoid sex because they feel anxious or self-conscious.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, hypersexuality is not a formal diagnosis because there is a lack of evidence to show that it is a health condition rather than a set of symptoms.
It is normal for both males and females to go through periods of increased sexual interest or activity.
When hypersexual thoughts are interfering with a person’s everyday life or relationships, however, it is a good idea for them to see a doctor.
If the person’s hypersexual thoughts are a side effect of a medication, their healthcare team will be able to help.
Doctors may reduce the dosage or suggest a different type of medication. They may also recommend counseling or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). These forms of therapy may help a person alter their sexual thought patterns and behavior.
Vyvanse is a type of amphetamine. A known side effect of amphetamines is hypersexuality, which is an all-consuming preoccupation with sex that can border on obsession.
Doctors may prescribe Vyvanse to treat mental health conditions, including ADHD and BED. Both of these conditions can also affect a person’s libido and sexual function.
Anyone who experiences intrusive sexual thoughts after starting this medication should speak to their healthcare team. Options for treatment include reducing the dosage or switching to a different type of medication.