Medical and Psychological Risks and Consequences of Long-Term Opioid Therapy in Women

Beth D. Darnall, Brett R. Stacey, Roger Chou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Background. Long-term opioid use has increased substantially over the past decade for U.S. women. Women are more likely than men to have a chronic pain condition, to be treated with opioids, and may receive higher doses. Prescribing trends persist despite limited evidence to support the long-term benefit of this pain treatment approach. Purpose. To review the medical and psychological risks and consequences of long-term opioid therapy in women. Method. Scientific literature containing relevant keywords and content were reviewed. Results and Conclusions. Long-term opioid use exposes women to unique risks, including endocrinopathy, reduced fertility, neonatal risks, as well as greater risk for polypharmacy, cardiac risks, poisoning and unintentional overdose, among other risks. Risks for women appear to vary by age and psychosocial factors may be bidirectionally related to opioid use. Gaps in understanding and priorities for future research are highlighted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1181-1211
Number of pages31
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Chronic pain
  • Gender
  • Opioid
  • Opioids
  • Risks
  • Sex
  • Treatment
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Medical and Psychological Risks and Consequences of Long-Term Opioid Therapy in Women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this