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Sexual Dysfunction and Psychotropic Medications

  • Glen L. Stimmel (a1) and Mary A. Gutierrez (a2)

Psychotropic drugs are often associated with sexual dysfunction. The frequency of antidepressant-associated sexual dysfunction is greatly underestimated in clinical trials that rely on patient self-report of these adverse events. Direct inquiry reveals that delayed orgasm/ejaculation occurs in ≥50% and anorgasmia in at least one third of patients given selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction can be successfully managed. A different antidepressant without significant sexual effects, such as bupropion or mirtazapine, can often be substituted. Other strategies involve drug holidays or adjunctive therapy with drugs such as sildenafil. Dopamine antagonist antipsychotic drugs are most commonly associated with decreased libido. The newer atypical antipsychotics, with less effect on dopamine, are less commonly associated with sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction is commonly reported with seizure disorders, and many anticonvulsant drugs affect levels of sex hormones. Because sexual dysfunction can be related to many factors, care must be taken to establish the patient's baseline sexual functioning before the initiation of psychotropic drug therapy and to rule out other etiologies before drugs are implicated as causative.

Corresponding author
Glen L. Stimmel PharmD, USC School of Pharmacy, 1985 Zonal Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90089-9121; Tel: 323-442-1463; Fax:, 323-442-1681; E-mail:,
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