How to Reduce Antidepressants Sexual Side Effects

A loss of sex drive and difficulties performing during physical intimacy can be one of the symptoms of depression, but they can also be the side effects of certain medications used to treat this condition.

What effects can you experience under antidepressants and why? Also, more importantly, is there a way you can help reduce these side effects if you experience them? We’ll be discussing these questions below, so read on for advice on dealing with this issue. 


Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants -
What Are They and What Causes Them

Both depression and antidepressants can cause a variety of negative side effects to the libido, that affects both men and women. These can include a decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction in men, and vaginal dryness in women. 

Sexual side effects are more common than you’d think, with 50-70% of people in a group of 14,000 diagnosed with depression at risk of suffering sexual dysfunction issues. This is increased (albeit slightly) in those taking antidepressants from 65% to 71%. The statistics may be even higher, however, as many people are hesitant to report sexual issues with either their partner or a healthcare professional.

What causes these side effects? Most prescription antidepressants are within the same group of drugs called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). By raising levels of serotonin in the body, the person should experience increased calmness and less anxiety overall. However, this feeling of calm that helps with the person's stability can also lower sex drive, potentially preventing the hormones that cause our bodies to react to sex from communicating with our brains.

Communication is key to addressing these issues, both with your partner and your doctor if you are experiencing any sexual dysfunction due to medication. There are also some other measures you can use to try and address them.

Reducing the Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressants

While antidepressants are often essential in helping certain people manage depression, sex is an essential part of leading a fulfilling life for many. If you experience sexual side effects from antidepressants, this can be frustrating and discouraging, but there are many ways you may help reduce them.

  • Adjust your Dosage
  • While antidepressants at any level have the potential to affect your sex drive, lowering the dosage can help. With your doctor's advice, you may be able to find a lower dose of antidepressant that still works for you. You may find this change alone is enough to reduce the sexual side effects while still effectively treating depression. 

    Please note that if you decide to try this method, you will likely need to be monitored closely for a few weeks while switching to a lower dose. Also, do not stop taking your antidepressants entirely without consulting with your physician first, as this can be dangerous.

    • Timing
    • When it comes to sex, timing is important, but it can be especially so if you are taking medication. For example, if you are taking only one dose of antidepressants a day, you could wait to take your next dose until after you have sex. It does have the potential downside of causing additional stress from managing this timing and making sexual intercourse less spontaneous for some people, but it can also lead to greater sexual fulfilment.  

      • Change your Medication
      • If other methods have not worked for you, consider changing your medication. By communicating openly with your doctor about the negative side effects you’re experiencing, they may be able to suggest another prescription you could switch to. If your issues include erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness, your doctor could also suggest an additional medication that can help supplement your current treatment to reduce side effects. 

        • Try Alternatives
        • If you’ve tried making adjustments to your antidepressant or switching medications, but you are still suffering sexual side effects, you may want to try an alternative approach to addressing them. Psychotherapy, and other such alternatives are just some of the options you could consider. You might also try exercising both alone or with your partner to naturally raise both your mood and sex drive. As mentioned above, you should always consult with your doctor if you are planning to implement any significant changes. 

          • Talk to your Partner
          • For some people, the dilemma of dealing with the sexual side effects of taking antidepressants can be severe. This can often cause people to give up their medications in hopes of regaining a better sex life. However, it is important to keep in mind that suddenly stopping taking antidepressants means the symptoms of your depression may return or cause worse, more debilitating side effects.

            When deciding on how you want to improve your sex drive, it is important to discuss any changes with your sexual partner. With their input and advice, you can work on an answer that will hopefully aid both your mental health as well as your sexual needs.

            What to Do / What Not to Do

            When working towards addressing any issues with sexual dysfunction, you should also try to consider the following:

            • Do Not Blame Yourself - Whether it is yourself or your partner suffering from sexual issues, you should always avoid blaming either yourself or others in conversation. Blaming either yourself or your partner may only exacerbate the issues.
            • Do Not Ignore the Problems - Ignoring any issues you may be experiencing may seem the easiest option if you are hesitant to talk to someone, but it could lead to further depression, increased stress, and even cause the problems to worsen
            • Do Be Honest - Be honest about what you’re experiencing, both with yourself and those who can offer help and advice. This could be a sexual partner or your doctor. Communicating clearly with them will help them understand how best to support you.
            • Do Work Together - Depression can be difficult to deal with, often leaving you feeling alone and isolated. This can still be the case if you are suffering side effects from the medicines that should be helping you. Working together with your sexual partner can help you feel more understood and supported. If you are struggling to express yourselves, you and your partner may benefit from trying relationship counselling to provide a safe environment to communicate.


            Sexual side effects from antidepressants are an extremely common occurrence, so don’t be nervous about discussing how to solve these issues with your partner and/or doctor. Communication is key in starting the process of helping you to regain a healthy sex life while maintaining treatment for your mental health. A good balance of mental health and sexual wellness can be achieved with a willingness to talk through your experiences, and patience in finding what works for you.

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