Sex-related side effects

Description: for women undergoing treatment with cortisone, some changes in the menstrual cycle may be experienced. Menstruations can be longer or shorter than usual. Men have reported on occasion that they had decreased libido and/or erectile dysfunction during corticosteroid therapy.

Frequency: the frequency of the sexual side effects caused by cortisone are difficult to track. Alterations of the menstrual cycle may affect up to 15-40% of women treated with high doses of corticosteroids. There is very little research on male-specific reactions to cortisone treatment, notably changes in libido and erectile dysfunction.

Subjects at risk: we do not currently know which factors predispose patients to sexual side effects at this time.

Long versus short-term treatment: the side effects mentioned above have been observed in the first days of treatment.

Prevention/treatment: if these disorders are bothersome, your physician will decrease the dose of cortisone.

Reversibility: these side effects disappear within a few days of stopping corticotherapy.

Good to know
  • Sexual disorders caused by cortisone treatment are common. Don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.


  • Rizzato G et al. The long-term efficacy and safety of two different corticosteroids in chronic sarcoidosis. Respir Med. 1997
  • Contreras LN et al. Glucocorticoids: their role on gonadal function and LH secretion. Minerva Endocrinol. 1996
  • Fardet L et al. Corticosteroid-induced clinical adverse events: frequency, risk factors and patient’s opinion. Br J Dermatol. 2007