Scientists have made remarkable advances in medicine during the past century, finding treatments for everything from strep throat to Parkinson’s disease. Even vanity causes aren’t beyond the reach of drug companies, which offer solutions to even our most embarrassing physical shortcomings. Often though, the side effects of medication can be just as humiliating as the problem it was created to solve. If you take one of the following drugs, we hope you’re immune to either these cringe-worthy side effects or to total embarrassment.
- Alli and Xenical:
Orlistat, the generic drug for weight-loss pills like Alli and Xenical, is effective in making you lose weight, but that could be because it shames you into following a low-fat diet. The medication keeps you from absorbing all the fat you eat into your system, so that fat basically just comes out the other end … sometimes when you don’t expect it. You can have gas with oily discharge, loose stools, and more frequent stools that might be hard to control. Translated, that means grease-stained or poop-filled pants. The Alli website even used to recommend wearing dark pants and bringing an extra change of clothes with you to work until you understand these “treatment effects.”
We all know that Viagra can cause erections lasting four hours or longer from the drug’s commercials, but those people are kind of asking for it. Zoloft users, however, may not expect embarrassingly long erections when they take the medicine to treat their depression. It’s more likely that the drug will cause a decreased interest in sex or erectile dysfunction, but those side effects are arguably less embarrassing than the poor guy who has to cover his crotch half the work day.
Imagine you’re diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and start a drug regimen to help control it. Suddenly, you find yourself throwing all your money away at blackjack tables and the race track. The two probably seem unrelated and you might be embarrassed by your new lack of impulse control, but the Parkinson’s drug Mirapex has actually been found to increase gambling in some patients. So the next time you hear about some schmuck who gambled his family into debt, ask if he has Parkinson’s before you judge him.
Ever wonder how you woke up in the morning with frosting on your face? If you take Ambien, you could have your answer. Many users have reported sleepwalking, sleep-eating, and worse. Some have attempted to drive while asleep, made telephone calls, and some may even have had sex — and they all woke up in the morning with no recollection of the event. Besides being dangerous, this could be more embarrassing than drunk-dialing someone or having an alcohol-induced one-night stand. The sleep-eating can be more traumatizing than you’d think, too, as people under the influence of the drug sometimes eat things they shouldn’t, like raw meat and inedible objects.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that should be treated, but for some, the treatment can be almost as embarrassing and perhaps more unexpected than the disease itself. For a small number of patients, the drug Seroquel causes galactorrhea. Sounds disgusting, right? Galactorrhea is lactating spontaneously when you’re not pregnant or nursing, a horrifying leak to spring when you’re not expecting it.
If you thought it was bad for a woman to lactate spontaneously, imagine how much worse it must be for a man! In rare cases, Propecia, a drug many men use to treat hair loss, can cause a humiliating little side effect known as gynecomastia. In layman’s terms, that’s man boobs. And for a few unlucky patients, these man boobs can actually produce milk if stimulated too much. Here’s the question: would you rather be bald or have breasts?
The drug phenytoin helps control seizures in epilepsy patients. It also helps women fulfill their dreams of becoming a circus sideshow act: “Come one, come all, and see the famous bearded lady!” One pesky side effect of the undeniably useful drug is hirsutism, or the growth of unwanted hair. We’re talking 5 o’clock shadows and chest hair. So, ladies, if you find yourself sprouting fur in unattractive places, it might be time to stop the phenytoin and try a different treatment.
While men don’t actively look at each other while they urinate, you know that if something strange were going on, some heads would turn. Is blue urine weird enough for you? There are actually several drugs that will change your pee to an unnatural color. Blue or green can come from Indocin, Tagamet, and Elavil. Flagyl, an antibiotic, can even cause black urine. That’s not something you see at the urinal every day!