SSRIs and Libido: Antidepressants putting a stump in your hump?
A common query we often get is “What has happened to my sex drive since starting antidepressants and how the hell do I get it back?”
8.6 million people in the UK were reported to be taking antidepressants in 2023.. Whilst for many, they’re helpful treatment for depression or anxiety disorders, they can come with some less welcome side effects. Each SSRI is different, so not all will have the same effect, but the most prescribed SSRI Fluoxetine has been found to cause some sort of sexual dysfunction in a whopping 58-70% of users. It might sound intense, but sexual dysfunction can mean anything from a loss of desire to not being able to become physically aroused by sexual stimulation to the inability to achieve orgasm. Think of it like trying to scratch an itch you can never reach (frustrating, to say the least!). Join us as we explore the ins and outs of antidepressants and how they can potentially impact your sex life…
What are antidepressants and how do they work?
Despite their name, your GP might prescribe you one of many different types of antidepressant for a whole range of reasons - not just depression. The most commonly prescribed antidepressant is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) that plays a crucial role in moderating our mood and happiness. SSRIs help us to increase and maintain a stable level of serotonin in our brain.
What are the sexual side effects of SSRIs?
We’ve heard from many of our community who are taking antidepressants that they’ve experienced a negative impact when it comes to sex issues such as difficulty becoming aroused (experiencing less vaginal lubrication or vaginal dryness), having trouble staying aroused, lowered sex drive, and difficulty reaching orgasm. This can be distressing if you’ve previously enjoyed a rowdy, randy libido, and can be frustrating if the antidepressant is otherwise working well for you.
It is not entirely understood exactly how antidepressants negatively impact sex drive due to a lack of funding and/or research into the topic, but the theory is that antidepressants affect the complex interactions between neurotransmitters and our hormones. Although these side effects have been shown to be more prevalent in women, these issues are frequently seen in men, too. A recent study showed that about 1 in 216 men who were taking antidepressants were subsequently prescribed medication for erectile dysfunction.
How can I manage the sexual side effects from antidepressants?
In many cases, a watch and wait approach might be needed. In the first 6 months of taking antidepressants, you’re more likely to experience heightened side effects whilst your body gets used to the changing neurotransmitter levels. Don’t panic - these should diminish over time. Alternatively, you can discuss options with your doctor: lowering the dosage of your anti-depressant or trying a different type It might seem counterintuitive, especially if you are getting along well with it in every other area, but your sexual wellbeing is just as important as your mental health.
If you’re finding your interest in sex waning, it might be time to bring in a little novelty. Switching up your usual sex habits has been found to help boost libido, and could include anything from experimenting with audio erotica, to checking out a play party.. Similarly, scheduling sex might sound unsexy but sometimes the anticipation of the fun ahead can help build excitement and get you in the right headspace.
Another side effect of SSRIs can be reduced genital sensitivity. If your old faithful ways of getting off aren’t doing it for you anymore, it might be time to try out sex toys specifically designed for more intense orgasms. Our mini clitoral suction toy Cindy focuses pulsing air pressure and vibrations on your clit, and our community report pretty outrageous results.
Vaginal dryness can be a disorientating side effect, as it doesn’t necessarily correspond with our level of arousal. E.g. you might be feeling really, really mentally turned on, but you’re not getting wet. Our universal lubricant is perfect for keeping things nice and slippery whilst not feeling too sticky or creating any irritation.t’s also water-based, so perfect to use alongside condoms or toys! Using lube for the first time may feel daunting, or you may feel embarrassed to suggest using lube to your partner thanks to outdated and plain wrong ideas about vaginal dryness being a ‘bad’ or unsexy thing. Trust us, being open and honest about your what is only going to make your sex life stronger!
Can I use Libido Lift if I’m on Antidepressants?
We recently launched our first ever supplement, Libido Lift, and it’s becoming a bedroom staple. It’s an all-natural supplement created with nutritionist and gynae-approved ingredients that are scientifically backed, to help improve your libido. Libido Lift is safe to use alongside antidepressants, however we always suggest that you consult your doctor
- So, how does Libido Lift actually work? Read more about it here.
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