Antipsychotic drugs are associated with sexual dysfunction but the mechanisms are poorly understood.
To ascertain the frequency of sexual dysfunction in patients taking conventional antipsychotics and to determine the possible underlying mechanisms.
Sexual dysfunction was assessed in 101 patients receiving conventional antipsychotic medication, 57 normal controls and 55 controls attending a sexual dysfunction clinic.
Sexual dysfunction occurred in 45% of patients taking antipsychotic medication, 17% of normal controls and 61% of controls attending a sexual dysfunction clinic. Sexual dysfunction was associated with autonomic side-effects in normoprolactinaemic males, but the presence of hyperprolactinaemia overrode other causes of sexual dysfunction. For women, hyperprolactinaemia was the main cause of sexual dysfunction.
Conventional antipsychotic medications cause significant levels of sexual dysfunction. Clinicians should routinely enquire about sexual symptoms prior to the prescription of antipsychotics and on follow-up.
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