London - Men who take drugs are more likely to have performance issues in the bedroom – even years after they stop taking them.

New research has overturned previous thinking that the body recovers in a matter of weeks, issuing a fresh warning to men who take illegal substances or drink heavily.

During the study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the researchers assessed the sexual performance of 906 men.

Of them, 550 had been diagnosed with an addiction to either alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, speedball (a combination of cocaine and heroin) or an addiction to both cocaine and alcohol, but not dependent at the time of the study.

The other 356 men had never taken drugs or drunk heavily.

The researchers, from the University of Granada, Spain, and Santo Tomas University in Colombia, examined and evaluated four areas of sexual performance: sexual desire, sexual satisfaction, sexual arousal and orgasm.

They found that drug users had “moderately to significantly impaired sexual performance” compared with their “clean” counterparts.

Alcohol was found to be the worst cause of erectile dysfunction, whereas men who took heroin, cocaine, alcohol and speedball had difficulty in achieving orgasm.

They also examined how the substances affected sexuality. Cocaine users were found to have very high sexual desire during peak periods of drug abuse.

Speedball users, on the other hand, were found to have enhanced sexual pleasure, but slightly reduced desire.

Previous research indicated that chronic cocaine use could impair sexual function in men and women.

In men, cocaine can delay or impair ejaculation.

Even prescription drugs can affect sexual function. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – a modern family of antidepressants including Prozac, Seroxat and sertraline – cause a loss of libido and delayed orgasm in most of the people who take them, says Professor David Taylor, director of pharmacy and pathology at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.

They are sometimes prescribed to patients suffering from premature ejaculation for this reason. He said: “These drugs work by increasing levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that stimulates certain receptors in the brain to improve mood.

“However, this also stimulates other receptors, which appears to lower libido.” – Daily Mail