Anti-depressants & sexual dysfunction

We know that SSRI and NSRI’s (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor anti-depressants like Prozac, Effexor, Lexepro) can cause sexual problems. The most common sexual side effects in women include decrease in libido, and decreased ability to have an orgasm, or weaker orgasms. In most cases these side effects go away after someone stops taking the medication.

Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD) is a new term which doctors and patients are using for the condition in which sexual function does not completely return to normal after the discontinuation of SSRIs or another antidepressant medication. It is not common, but it does occur.

How do I know If I have PSSD?

There is no specific test to determine if you have PSSD. However, if you had a good libido, became easily aroused and had orgasms before taking SSRI’s and now that you have stopped using them your desire is low, you have a hard time becoming aroused and have weak or no orgasms you may be suffering from PSSD.

Does every woman who uses anti-depressants get PSSD?

Many practitioners who prescribe anti-depressants insist that these negative sexual side effects will be completely eradicated once they stop their medication. Unfortunately, there is recent data and studies that find that is not always the case. Even after several months, or years, off antidepressant medications there are some individuals who continue to suffer the negative sexual side effects. They often feel every frustrated as their depression has been treated, but now they are unable to enjoy sex the way they had before taking antidepressants. Many women find that while they no longer suffer from depression they have a decreased libido or are not able to have orgasms.

Is there a way to avoid PSSD while still taking antidepressants?

Prevention of PSSD is not possible although certain anti-depressants are less likely to cause sexual problems even while on them. While it seems as though only a small percentage of women suffer from PSSD and it should not discourage you from treatment for your depression, it is important that you know about possible long and short term side effects.

It is hard to know who will suffer from sexual side effects, and who will not. It is also not possible to know who will continue to suffer from these side effects once they are off the medication.

How do you treat PSSD?

Treatment of PSSD is dependent on which symptoms you are suffering from. Our treatments often include a combination of medical and behavioral components and are tailored for the individual patient. If you had a healthy desire for sex or have experienced pleasurable orgasms in the past, it is likely that with the proper combination of medical and emotional support you can do so again. We have had good success with treating PSSD, and encourage you to call us to discuss your situation.

Birth Control can also be a factor for low libido. Learn more here.