Many people suffer from depression. Doctors will usually prescribe antidepressants (commonly SSRIs) to treat the condition. However, the medication can cause low libido, in women and men, which can affect your sex life. Here’s what you need to know.
Why do antidepressants cause low libido?
Antidepressants are part of a family of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). As the name suggests, they raise the level of serotonin in your body, which results in calmness and a decrease in anxiety.
However, the sense of calm and decrease in anxiety lessens your body’s sex hormones from transmitting a signal to the brain, resulting in a lower sex drive.
According to an article published on Healthline, the following antidepressants are reportedly the most problematic:
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Paroxetine (Paxil and Paxil CR)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
Sexual side effects in women
Sexual side effects of SSRIs include delayed vaginal lubrication; difficulty having an orgasm; lack of sexual desire. If you’re taking antidepressants and are thinking about having a baby, please talk to your doctor. Certain antidepressants can affect the unborn baby resulting in birth defects.
Sexual side effects in men
Is your partner taking antidepressants? Common sexual side effects include difficulty getting an erection (medically known as erectile dysfunction); a delay, or inability to have an orgasm. Certain antidepressants can also severely decrease your partner’s sperm count. So, if you’re having difficulty falling pregnant, it could be due to antidepressants.
Emotional and physical side effects in men and women
Both genders can experience the following effects
- Weight gain – According to an article published by VeryWellMind, ‘It may be the drugs trigger changes in metabolism that cause the body to use up calories less efficiently, or that they affect the appetite, leading a person to overeat.’ Speak to your doctor about possibly switching to another brand of antidepressant if you experience weight gain.
- Lethargy (Feelings of laziness/sluggishness)
Ways to reduce sexual side effects
Ask about a lower dose
Speak to your doctor about lowering your dose. Lessening the dosage, slightly, can reduce the sexual side effects.
Consider taking medication to treat low libido
Your doctor may add medications used to treat sexual dysfunction to your daily regimen. For men, drugs such as vasodilators such as Viagra or Cialis can heighten your sex drive.
Take your antidepressant after having sex
Having sex when the level of your antidepressant is at its lowest could make a difference to sex drive. However, consult your doctor about when you should take your pill(s) because the timing may increase other side effects such as nausea or insomnia.
How Marie Stopes can help you
Marie Stopes is the global leader in women’s sexual and reproductive health. As part of our Women’s Wellness services, we can take a medical history. If you’re taking antidepressants that may be preventing you from falling pregnant, we can give you relevant advice.
If your libido does increase and you end up having an unintended pregnancy, we also provide a safe abortion service if you wish to terminate the pregnancy. It will be performed in a sterile clinic by a medical professional.
Schedule an appointment at your nearest centre, and a medical professional will answer any questions you may have about low libido and ways to reduce the sexual side effects.