Commonly prescribed drug linked to sexual dysfunction, experts claim

SSRI antidepressants have been found to cause libido drop and numbness in groin areas among certain people.

Commonly prescribed drug linked to sexual dysfunction, experts claim
© Getty/ Peter Dazeley
Commonly prescribed drug linked to sexual dysfunction, experts claim

Millions of Brits who are being prescribed antidepressants are not aware of the potential impact on their sex lives, according to experts. Some patients who have been taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – a class of antidepressants – to manage depression and anxiety, told the Mail on Sunday they’ve noticed serious changes in their sex lives even after they stopped taking the drugs.

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SSRIs and sex life

Antidepressants are one of the most widely prescribed drugs in England with over 70 million prescriptions dispensed in 2018. The DailyMail reports that in the past year alone, one in eight people in the UK had been prescribed SSRIs and other antidepressants. A recent study linked long term use of these drugs to increased risk of heart diseases. Other established side effects include a drop in libido in both men and women.

In the DailyMail article, some of the patients who reportedly reached out to the news outlet shared similar symptoms including absence of sensation around the groin and erectile dysfunction among men. Both sexes report having difficulty climaxing, a condition known as anorgasmia. More and more experts have cause to believe that people could still experience these symptoms long after they stop taking SSRIs. One of them is Dr Joanna Moncrieff, professor of critical and social psychiatry at University College London:

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The majority of people taking SSRIs will get some form of sexual dysfunction – there's no debate about that. They're prescribed to sex offenders to curb their libido, so it isn't a huge stretch to imagine that symptoms persist.

Important warning

Recent data from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency watchdog reveals one in five of the 1,762 reports of SSRI-related sexual dysfunction persisted even after they had ceased taking the drugs. Despite the addition of new warning to SSRIs leaflets inside their packaging after reports of post-SSRI sexual dysfunction in the EU, Dr Moncrieff says the caution is not far-reaching enough.

People need to be aware that we don't know much about it – we don't know how common it is and we don't know how to treat it. A rise in the number of young people being prescribed antidepressants made these warnings 'even more important

Sources used:

DailyMail: REVEALED: The hidden epidemic of sexual dysfunction which experts blame on SSRI antidepressants

The Sun: Taking antidepressants long-term ‘increases your risk of killer condition’

University of Bristol:Adverse health outcomes associated with long-term antidepressant use

Evening Standard: Long-term antidepressant use ‘may increase risk of heart disease’

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