What antidepressants are less likely to affect your sex life?
Antidepressants are well known for their ability to affect your sex life. Possible sexual side effects of antidepressants include:
- reduced libido
- a lack of sexual desire
- an inability to orgasm
- erectile dysfunction
Sexual dysfunction is a common side effect of antidepressant medications — but some antidepressants are less likely to cause sexual side effects.
According to a 2010 study of 101 people taking antidepressants, 46.5% experienced sexual dysfunction. The researchers found that people taking mirtazapine had fewer sexual side effects than those taking citalopram, venlafaxine, paroxetine, or fluoxetine.
If you need help covering the cost of medications, Optum Perks free Discount Card could help you save up to 80% off prescription drugs. Follow the links on drug names to see how much you may be able to save on that medication or search for a specific drug here.
What antidepressants have lower rates of sexual side effects?
Mirtazapine is a type of antidepressant called noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NASSAs). These drugs are less likely to have sexual side effects, but they may cause more drowsiness when you start taking them.
Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is an “atypical antidepressant” as it falls outside the four main classes of antidepressants. Sometimes, doctors may recommend taking bupropion alongside other antidepressants to improve your side effects, including sexual dysfunction.
A 2016 review found that bupropion reversed sexual dysfunction in 66% of cases when taken consistently, and 38% when taken as needed.
What antidepressants have more sexual side effects?
Both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) have common sexual side effects.
SSRIs can decrease your sexual drive. SSRIs include:
- fluoxetine (Prozac)
- sertraline (Zoloft)
- escitalopram (Lexapro)
- paroxetine (Paxil)
- citalopram (Celexa)
- fluvoxamine (Luvox)
SNRIs, similar to SSRIs, can cause sexual dysfunction. SNRIs include:
- venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
- duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- milnacipran (Ixel)
- desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
- levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can also cause sexual dysfunction. MAOIs include:
Need help covering the cost of antidepressants? The Optum Perks free Discount Card may help you get up to 80% off your usual prescription cost.
What to do if your antidepressant is affecting your sex life
Many people experience sexual side effects when taking antidepressants. This is nothing to be ashamed of. If your medication is causing any undesirable side effects, consider talking with a healthcare professional about your options.
If you have just started antidepressant therapy, a doctor may recommend waiting to see if the side effects ease on their own. If your side effects aren’t going away, they may adjust your dosage or suggest changing medications.
Another option is to add a second antidepressant drug to your therapy, such as bupropion.
You can also discuss with a doctor if other medications could improve your sexual side effects, such as those prescribed for erectile dysfunction. These include:
It’s important not to change a medication without guidance from a doctor. The side effects may be frustrating, but there are often other options you can try.
Everyone reacts differently to antidepressants. It may take some time before your doctor can find the right dosage and balance between your new antidepressant medications.
When you take antidepressant medications, you may experience side effects that can affect your sex life. Sexual side effects are common, especially with SSRI medications. NASSAs and atypical antidepressants may have fewer sexual side effects.
If you are experiencing antidepressant side effects, consider contacting a doctor. They can adjust the dosage of your medications, suggest a different antidepressant, or recommend medications to improve your symptoms.
- Al Breiki M, et al. (2020). Prevalence of antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction among psychiatric outpatients attending a tertiary care hospital. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8015629/
- Antidepressants. (2021). https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/medicines-and-psychiatry/antidepressants/overview/
- Boyce P, et al. (2021). Choosing an antidepressant. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7900278/
- Edinoff AN, et al. (2021). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and adverse effects: A narrative review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8395812/
- Jing E, et al. (2016). Sexual dysfunction in selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and potential solutions: A narrative literature review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6007725/
- Lee K-U, et al. (2010). Antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction among newer antidepressants in a naturalistic setting. https://www.psychiatryinvestigation.org/journal/view.php?year=2010&vol=7&spage=55
- Montejo AL, et al. (2019). Management strategies for antidepressant-related sexual dysfunction: A clinical approach. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6832699/
- Santarsieri D, et al. (2015). Antidepressant efficacy and side-effect burden: A quick guide for clinicians. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4630974/
- Sheffler ZL, et al. (2022). Antidepressants. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538182/
- Yasin W, et al. (2020). Does bupropion impact more than mood? A case report and review of the literature. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6529042/