Exploring the Relationship Between Antidepressants and Sexual Dysfunction

Selective Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a common cause of sexual dysfunction, for both men and women. This is because of an increase in serotonin, affecting the other hormones and neurotransmitters, such as testosterone, dopamine, and estrogen. While some individuals may experience only mild sexual side effects that diminish as their bodies adapt to the medication, others may face persistent challenges. 


Antidepressants’ Effects on Sexual Functioning


  • A decrease in sexual desire or libido.
  • Difficulty achieving orgasm or delayed orgasm. For women, this is called anorgasmia.
  • Erectile dysfunction or difficulty maintaining an erection
  • Vaginal dryness.
  • Pain during sex.


Antidepressants With the Lowest Rate of Sexual Dysfunction Side Effects


  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin XL, Wellbutrin SR)
  • Mirtazapine (Remeron)
  • Vilazodone (Viibryd)
  • Vortioxetine (Trintellix)


Antidepressants With the Highest Rate of Sexual Dysfunction Side Effects


  • SSRIs such as citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva) and sertraline (Zoloft).
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which include venlafaxine (Effexor XR), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) and duloxetine (Cymbalta).
  • Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline (Pamelor) and clomipramine (Anafranil).
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate). 


Does Everyone On Antidepressants Experience Sexual Dysfunction?


It’s important to note that not everyone experiences sexual dysfunction while taking antidepressants. The prevalence and severity of these side effects can vary widely among individuals. 


Factors such as age, gender, dosage, duration of treatment, and underlying medical conditions may influence the likelihood and intensity of sexual dysfunction.


How Do I Address Sexual Dysfunction On Antidepressants?

If you’re taking an antidepressant that causes sexual side effects, your doctor may recommend one or more of these strategies:


  • Waiting several weeks to see whether sexual side effects get better.
  • Adjusting the dose of your antidepressant to reduce the risk of sexual side effects. But always talk with your doctor before changing your dose.
  • Switching to another antidepressant may be less likely to cause sexual side effects.
  • Adding a second antidepressant or another type of medication to counter sexual side effects.
  • Adding a medication to improve sexual function.


Psychosexual Counselling for Sexual Dysfunction


Non-pharmacological interventions, including psychosexual counselling and sexual counselling, can also be beneficial.  These approaches provide individuals and their partners with a supportive environment to address sexual concerns, enhance communication, and develop coping strategies.


Why Choose Lena Fenton for Psychosexual Counselling?


Lena Fenton Counselling provides a remote service that specifically addresses concerns related to sexual dysfunction. This service encompasses issues such as premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, vaginismus, lack of sexual desire, and dyspareunia


To find out more regarding this service, fill out the contact form here. Alternatively, call us on 07721 633 521 or email [email protected]