Depression can be notoriously difficult to treat and even when the right meds are chosen, you may still experience side effects. A profound negative impact on your libido is one of the most common problems you’re likely to experience as a result of being on anti-depression medicines.
Are you going to experience such problems and if so, is there anything you can do about it? Here’s how to cope with the sexual issues stemming from the use of antidepressants.
Do Antidepressants Really Kill Your Sex Drive?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Depression is a condition that’s typically treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. Prozac and Zoloft are two of the most popular medications that belong to the group. Clinical research suggests that they’re likely to cause three common sexual issues in men – lack of libido, a poor erectile response and a difficulty in achieving an orgasm.
Such side effects happen to be fairly common among the individuals taking anti-depression medications. Depending on the specifics of the drug being taken, anywhere between 15 and 70 percent of the people taking the specific pill will experience a sexual dysfunction.
In general, approximately 60 percent of all men being treated for depression will report sex drive problems.
The most important question here is why do SSRIs cause sexual dysfunction. There are a few hypotheses. SSRIs affect serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that in larger quantities will have a negative impact on sexual desire. The production of serotonin probably leads to a dopamine and norepinephrine inhibition and these neurotransmitters are very important for a healthy sexual response.
There’s one more way in which SSRIs could be causing a low sex drive. Researchers have found out that these medications inhibit nitric oxide production and they also reduce the sensitivity of sexual organs. In essence, they make it much more difficult to get aroused and to experience pleasure during sex. If sex isn’t particularly exciting and pleasurable, chances are that a man would be wishing intimacy less frequently.
Solution #1: Changing Your Meds
If you’re experiencing a low sex drive as a result of SSRIs treatment, you’ll need to talk to your doctor about it. Chances are that a few treatment adjustments can be made to bring your sex life back to normal.
For a start, some people may experience improvements as a result of a changed medication dose. Lower doses of SSRIs are typically linked to less prominent side effects. Thus, if a physician decides you’ll still get anti-depression benefits from smaller quantities of medications, you’ll get to try this approach.
Alternatively, a physician may recommend another SSRI. Chances are that an alternative form of the medicine is not going to produce the same side effects.
Finally, depression could also be treated with a different class of medications. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are a newer class of anti-depression drugs. These come with less pronounced side effects but they’re not suitable for every depression patient. A doctor will figure out whether making the switch from SSRIs to SNRIs is reasonable.
Other Treatment Options
Often, medication adjustments will not be suitable for depression patients. This is when you’ll have to consider an alternative approach for restoring your sex life.
One of the best things you can do to counter the effects of SSRIs is increasing your testosterone levels.
Testosterone, the primary male sexual hormone, is the one that plays the biggest role in maintaining a healthy sex drive. Thus, an increase in testosterone could potentially counter the effects of the depression medicines.
There is some evidence antidepressants could be causing a decrease in testosterone levels but more research will be required to identify the exact mechanism.
Testosterone boosters are natural supplements that can play a supportive role during the treatment of depression. These natural products are aimed at helping the body produce more testosterone on its own. Such products are free from synthetic hormones, which makes them suitable for use by all men out there. You can find out more about testosterone boosters here.
When it comes to supplements, other options could also deliver good results. Research shows that 76 percent of the male participants in a study who were on SSRI therapy and who took ginkgo biloba experienced improvements in their sexual function. Ginkgo biloba-based supplements delivered even more pronounced results for women undergoing anti-depression treatment and experiencing sex drive issues because of it.
One more thing you can do to make things better is a bit of timing. Yes, scheduling sex isn’t the best when it comes to spontaneity but it can help you overcome the effects of antidepressants.
This approach is particularly beneficial for the people who take antidepressants once per day. You may want to take your medications in the evening after you’ve had sex with your partner. If you engage in sexual activity prior to taking your daily dose, chances are that you’ll be less likely to experience the side effects of the medication.
Before doing any of these changes on your own, you will have to talk to a doctor. The treatment of depression is complex and challenging. Don’t make drug adjustments or changes on your own. In an attempt to overcome the side effects, you can potentially mess with the effectiveness of the overall treatment. If possible, your doctor will switch the medicine that’s causing problem. Alternatively, the two of you will come up with a supportive therapy that will likely improve your sex life.