Reminder: The 6 Most Unsettling Medication Side Effects


We're going to take a stand here: We're in favor of medicine. Modern medicine ranks with internet porn and the George Foreman grill as one of the greatest achievements of mankind. But there are drawbacks in the form of side effects, some of which are far more off-putting than the inability to operate heavy machinery.

Most of them only happen to an infinitesimally small group of people, but they can still happen. Behold, six side effects that would suck for anyone unlucky enough to experience them, while being indisputably awesome for any onlooker with a video camera and a YouTube account.


Alli is a weight-loss medication that prevents fat absorption. When you eat fat, the medication stops you from digesting it and helps it pass right along through.

Side effects may include ...
According to their website, Alli calls these "treatment effects." Which implies that these effects can happen to pretty much everybody under the right circumstances. It's nothing major, mind you, just things like "gas with oily spotting." This would be a polite way of describing a fart that spackles your chair with a greasy stain of ass buckshot. In some cultures that's a great compliment for the host.

Of course, that's not all. Prominently displayed on their list of treatment effects are also "loose stools" and "more frequent stools that may be hard to control." Again, this should not be that alarming as these events are quite humorous when portrayed in the realm of slapstick comedy.

Alli, purveyors of hilarity that they are, go on to describe in gut busting detail just what to expect from your twitching, out-of-control rectum, including this gem: "You may recognize it as something that looks like the oil on top of a pizza." Recognize what? The slurry that leaked out of your ass and into your khakis, that's what.

Should you worry?
Their site makes it sound like anyone who eats too much fat in one sitting can wind up with leakage. It makes sense; you're not absorbing the grease from the fries you ate, the grease has to go somewhere.

The Alli people, ever the optimists, imply this is all part of the plan:

"In fact, anecdotally, many users have told us that treatment effects served as a signal that helped them adopt healthier eating patterns."

As in, people start limiting their fat intake out of fear of uncontrollable pooping in the middle of, say, giving a eulogy at a loved one's funeral.


Finally, the curse of the Jimmy Legs can come to an end thanks to Requip, a medication that helps manage Restless Leg Syndrome. And thankfully, most people can take it without incident.

Side effects may include ...
Mind you, there's always a chance you'll be one of the lucky ones who, inexplicably, is struck with "an unusual urge to gamble or increased sexual urges and/or behaviors."

We totally did not make that up. If you take Requip, you might turn into James Bond in Casino Royale.

Now, to the few of you who still have not left your computers to go get Requip prescriptions, it's probably wise to consider the warning against increased sexual "behaviors." Not just urges.

It's not enough that in your quest to have stationary legs you'll get oddly horny, but apparently you could find yourself actually doing things. Sexual things. Against your will. As a bonus, you may also start betting on the likelihood on whether or not you'll be arrested for these various sexual endeavors.

Not to be forgotten, however, are the visual, aural and tactile hallucinations that Requip can potentially cause. Factor in your new horny behavior and it's entirely possibly you'll find yourself on a bus humping a seat and think you're in New Jersey banging Aunt Gladys against your will with 50 bucks riding on whether you'll be done before Uncle Paul gets home. It could get complicated.

Should you worry?
All of these are extremely rare and most common to people who also have Parkinson's disease. The gambling thing seems to have the experts baffled, though it didn't stop this guy from suing the drug maker for a gambling addiction that lost him $14 million. What would he have done if he'd won?


The fear of hair loss grips many a man, because we know the odds are overwhelming we will not turn into a cool, suave bald guy like Patrick Stewart, and will instead wind up more like our weird Uncle Paul with his increasingly desperate comb-overs.

Thankfully, science stumbled upon an answer in Propecia, a drug invented to treat prostate problems that messes with the testosterone in your body enough to help you hang on to your hair. What could possibly go wrong?

Side effects may include ...
It's called "gynecomastia," the first four letters of which should make any man arch his eyebrow and feel wary. And with good cause, as gynecomastia means boobs. Boobs that can make milk. No, seriously.

There's got to be a Rob Schneider movie in here somewhere.

Should you worry?
Propecia is powerful shit; if you've seen the ads on TV you know that pregnant women aren't even allowed to touch the pills. The little bit that seeps in through the skin can mess the baby up so bad that even having a mom and a dad able to nurse couldn't save them.

Still, the odds on the man-boob thing are extremely small, which probably doesn't make the few lactating bald dudes out there feel any better. What will make them feel better is knowing that the effects are reversible and the man-boobs go away when you stop taking it. Of course, the luxuriant head of hair you grew goes away, too.


Being the kid who resembles a cross between the pock-marked crater that is Bryan Adams' face and the blistery red ass of a toad is no fun. Trust us, we know.

Thus, acne treatments are huge business. When the standard wipes and ointments have failed, there is the drug Accutane. This is the loose cannon cop of the acne drug world, the last resort when all other options have failed.

Side effects may include ...
Side effects can include crying spells, rectal bleeding and bone fractures.

Uh, wow. OK. Though all of this could be kind of funny if it happened to a friend, we suppose.

Somewhat less amusing, and well worth the description of "alarming" are side effects like hepatitis, psychosis and hirsutism. That last one is, in fact, an overabundance of hair. Finally, and we're unsure of the logistics on this one, but according to, you can also, somehow, end up with herpes.

Basically, in your quest to get rid of acne, it's not outside the realm of possibility, slim though it may be, that you could end up as a psychotic wolfman with VD. One with anal bleeding.

Should you worry?
OK, each of those are just barely in the realm of possibility, and winding up with all of them has probably never happened. If it has, we'd have to speculate it was less the Accutane and more the vengeance of an angry Old Testament God trying to teach someone a lesson about vanity.


Anti-depressant Zoloft comes with enough side effects to turn anyone's terminal frown upside down.

Side effects may include...
While Viagra, predictably, comes with amusing warnings about prolonged erections, Zoloft too can saddle users with a "persistent, painful erection." So whether or not Zoloft actually makes you feel better about the world, the world will at least get the impression you're happy to see it.

This awful wood you're sporting also has the advantage of shooting blanks, as the mechanically labeled "ejaculation failure" is a fairly common side effect of the drug. While ejaculation failure is probably no laughing matter, the combination of words always makes us think of a very important military operation that has gone horribly awry. When the good guys attempt to deploy ejaculation, a computer screen flashes the words "Ejaculation Failure!" in bright, red letters, and the only choice left to save the world from the forces of evil is for the hero, possibly Patrick Swayze, to go out on the wing of an F-16 and ejaculate into the wind. Don't ask why, just accept that it will save the day.

Should you worry?
The ejaculation failure thing happened in about 14 percent of the patients in one study. The persistent painful boner thing is common to most drugs of that type, and shouldn't cause major problems, though can create issues in the workplace if you wrestle or teach ballroom dancing for a living.


Treating bacterial infections has been close to the hearts of sailors, businessmen and dad for years. Knowing this, the medical world wouldn't stop at just penicillin, it had to go out and create many drugs, such as Levaquin, to help battle the nasty souvenirs we get from rusty nails and drunken whores in foreign ports.

Side effects may include ...
It can turn you into a vampire.

Seriously. We mean, it can't make you immortal or bloodthirsty, but it can kill your ability to handle sunlight. It's called "phototoxicity," which is characterized by rapid, second-degree sunburns. So, basically a poor man's vampirism.

To some of us, the ones who took a lot of art in high school and play role playing board games, a side effect that makes you a little more vampiric could be cool. On the other hand, you're also courting some "ruptured tendons." So while you may think you've just become Crypt Lord Lesbos, you take a step towards the closet to put on your black velvet underwear and snap, there goes your Achilles tendon, exploding along with any hopes of ever getting laid.

Should you worry?
The bad stuff is rare and happens mainly to the elderly. If your body is a cesspool of bacteria and your doctor has prescribed you Levaquin as a result, please, please don't stop taking your pills as a result of this article. If your skin starts smoking in the sun or you suddenly start fearing crosses, call the doc and do whatever he says.

For an article about side effects that are a little more useful, check out our rundown of 5 Mental Disorders That Can Totally Get You Laid. Or if you're concerned about how you're going to pay for all of your painful-boner-giving, gambling-problem-inducing medicine, head over to the blog and see what John Edwards plans to do about it.

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