Is Your Heartburn Relief Hurting Your Sex Life?

We all reach for that quick fix sometimes, especially when it comes to managing uncomfortable symptoms like heartburn. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), like omeprazole and lansoprazole, have become a go-to medication for millions, offering fast and effective relief. But what if the convenience comes with a hidden cost? Recent research suggests a link between PPIs and sexual dysfunction, raising an important question: are these pills for our ills sometimes creating more problems than they solve?

PPIs and Sexual Dysfunction:

Recent research published in the European Review of Endocrinology explores the connection between the use of PPIs and sexual health issues. The study found that people who take PPIs might experience:

  • Erectile Dysfunction: Men taking PPIs were found to be up to three times more likely to have difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection compared to those not on these medications.
  • Decreased Libido: Both men and women reported a lower interest in sexual activity while on PPIs.
  • Other Sexual Problems: Some individuals also experienced other sexual issues, though the study didn’t specify what these were.

One of the key findings of the study was the association between PPI use and hyperprolactinemia, a condition characterized by elevated levels of the hormone prolactin in the blood. Prolactin plays a role in sexual function, and high levels can lead to decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and other sexual problems.

It’s also believed that PPIs might interfere with the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that plays a key role in achieving erections and maintaining sexual desire.

But the potential downsides extend beyond the bedroom. Studies suggest PPIs might also be linked to:

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies:

PPIs can interfere with how your body absorbs essential nutrients. For example, they can reduce the absorption of vitamin B12, magnesium, and iron, which are important for energy, muscle function, and overall health. This can lead to symptoms like fatigue, muscle weakness, and anemia.

Increased risk of fractures:

Long-term use of PPIs may be linked to a higher risk of bone fractures, especially in the hip and spine. This might be due to a decrease in calcium absorption or changes in bone remodeling, which can make bones more fragile.

Higher Risk of Infections:

PPIs can alter the natural balance of bacteria in your gut, potentially weakening your immune system. This can increase your risk of respiratory infections like pneumonia and gastrointestinal infections caused by bacteria like Salmonella and Campylobacter.

Kidney Health Concerns:

Some studies suggest that prolonged use of PPIs might be associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury. It’s important to monitor kidney function if you’re on long-term PPI therapy.


Some studies suggest that PPIs may be linked to an increased risk of developing dementia, possibly due to effects on vitamin B12 levels or direct inhibition of enzymatic clearance of β-amyloid, though more research is needed to understand this potential risk.

These side effects raise a crucial point: our bodies are complex systems, and treating one symptom in isolation can have unintended consequences elsewhere.

The Problem with Overuse:

While PPIs can offer temporary relief, there’s growing concern, for good reason, about excessive and unnecessary prescriptions. Studies reveal:

  • 25-70% of PPI prescriptions lack a clear medical indication.
  • PPI overuse in the US alone costs over $10 billion annually, with global costs exceeding $25 billion.
  • This raises concerns about the sustainability and potential harm of long-term use for non-essential reasons.

When Are PPIs Truly Necessary?

It’s crucial to understand that PPIs aren’t a magic bullet for heartburn. While they have a place in managing specific conditions, their long-term use requires very careful consideration and medical oversight. Remember:

  • PPIs should be used for the shortest duration possible.
  • Long-term use may pose potential risks like the ones mentioned above.
  • The decision to start, continue, or stop PPIs should be made in consultation with your doctor, considering individual needs and risks

Beyond the Pill: A Holistic Approach

The potential adverse effects of PPIs highlight the limitations of a purely pharmaceutical approach to health. While medications can play a role, they should be considered within a broader framework of holistic wellness and prevention. At MyHealth1st, we believe in empowering individuals to take charge of their health through a combination of:

  • Understanding root causes: Instead of simply suppressing symptoms, we focus on identifying and addressing the underlying factors that contribute to heartburn, such as food sensitivities, stress, hormonal dysregulation, and digestive imbalances.
  • Dietary changes: We recommend exploring personalized dietary approaches like the Blood Type Diet, which tailors food choices to your unique genetic makeup. This can help reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and alleviate heartburn naturally.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Stress management, regular exercise, and healthy sleep habits can significantly impact your digestive health and overall well-being.
  • Personalized coaching: Our health coaching can provide guidance and support to help you implement these changes and achieve your health goals.

Empowering You to Make Informed Choices:

At MyHealth1st, we believe in informed consent. We encourage you to:

  • Talk to your doctor: Discuss any concerns you have about PPIs or other medications you’re taking.
  • Explore alternative approaches: Consider dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and personalized coaching to manage heartburn naturally.
  • Take charge of your health: Become an active participant in your healthcare journey and make informed decisions about your well-being.

Remember, your body is a complex ecosystem, and true health comes from addressing the root causes of imbalances. Don’t settle for a pill that simply masks the problem. By taking a holistic approach, you can achieve lasting relief and enjoy vibrant health from the inside out.

Ready to explore a more holistic approach to heartburn? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.



  1. Cheungpasitporn, W., Thongprayoon, C., Kittanamongkolchai, W., & Ungprasert, P. (2015). Proton pump inhibitors linked to hypomagnesemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Renal Failure, 37(7), 1237-1241.

  2. Freedberg, D. E., Kim, L. S., & Yang, Y. X. (2017). The Risks and Benefits of Long-term Use of Proton Pump Inhibitors: Expert Review and Best Practice Advice From the American Gastroenterological Association. Gastroenterology, 152(4), 706-715.

  3. Goldstein, F. C., Steenland, K., Zhao, L., Wharton, W., Levey, A. I., & Hajjar, I. (2017). Proton pump inhibitors and risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 65(9), 1969-1974.

  4. Lazarus, B., Chen, Y., Wilson, F. P., Sang, Y., Chang, A. R., Coresh, J., & Grams, M. E. (2016). Proton pump inhibitor use and the risk of chronic kidney disease. JAMA Internal Medicine, 176(2), 238-246.

  5. Shah, N. H., LePendu, P., Bauer-Mehren, A., Ghebremariam, Y. T., Iyer, S. V., Marcus, J., … & Leeper, N. J. (2015). Proton pump inhibitor usage and the risk of myocardial infarction in the general population. PLOS ONE, 10(6), e0124653.

  6. Zhou, B., Huang, Y., Li, H., Sun, W., & Liu, J. (2016). Proton-pump inhibitors and risk of fractures: an update meta-analysis. Osteoporosis International, 27(1), 339-347.

  7. European Review of Endocrinology (2023). Proton pump inhibitors and sexual dysfunction.

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Lilly Young

Lilly Young, raised in the realm of health and wellness by her mother, Dr. Lari Young, blends her passion for writing and medical research to offer insightful contributions to the MyHealth1st blog.