Cymbalta Sexual Side Effects In Females And Males

Last Updated: June 16, 2021

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Cymbalta sexual side effects, as well as other antidepressants, are one of the most complained among patients who are prescribed the drug. As a result, these duloxetine sexual side effects can make the patients stop taking the medication. It can be detrimental to their health and wellbeing. Therefore, having an understanding of Cymbalta sex drive changes and how to cope with them is crucial.

Why Does Cymbalta Cause Sexual Effects?

Depression is a common mental health condition. Around 7% of the US population had a major depressive episode in 2017. It makes the use of antidepressants not surprising. Sex problems are seen with most antidepressant drugs. However, with some, such symptoms are more common.

The reason behind Cymbalta sexual side effects lies in its mechanism of action. The Duloxetine drug class is SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor). The inhibition of these two neurotransmitters helps relieve depression and anxiety. Although this action is beneficial for mental health conditions, the feeling of calm the drug causes can lower libido. It affects the hormones in the body, leading to various sexual effects.

Young couple has sexual problems due to Cymbalta.

Cymbalta can affect sex drive both in men and in women. It’s essential to be aware of them so that users can understand the reason behind these symptoms. In case a patient experiences them, the doctor can change the medication and look into Cymbalta alternatives.

Duloxetine Sexual Side Effects In Men

The most common side effects in men are erectile dysfunction, difficulty reaching orgasm, reduced desire, and ejaculatory dysfunction. These duloxetine side effects are not pleasant, so many patients strive to find help.

Studies have shown that 35% to 50% of people with untreated major depressive disorder and 64% of people with depression experience some type of sexual dysfunction. Therefore, doctors find it challenging to find a direct link between Cymbalta and sex drive problems in patients.

Orgasm Problems

Orgasm is the last of the three sexual functioning stages in men after desire (libido) and psychological arousal. One theory that links Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) such as Duloxetine to orgasm problems is based on the drug’s effects on serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Serotonin tends to inhibit sexual activity, and once there is an increase in the brain, these functions tend to decline.

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is the difficulty of a man to have or maintain an erection. Generally, 4% of men on Cymbalta may experience erectile dysfunction at some point. This adverse effect can impact the patient’s quality of life and, therefore, they should consult a doctor to adjust the treatment plan with antidepressants.

Ejaculatory Dysfunction

Ejaculatory dysfunction as one of the duloxetine adverse reactions in men occurs either when a man ejaculates sooner or later than his partner expects on all occasions – delayed ejaculation or retrograde ejaculation. Ejaculatory Dysfunction occurs in about 3% of male patients on duloxetine. However, these sexual side effects of Cymbalta treatment can be managed.

Decreased Libido

Decreased libido is generally a lower interest and desire for sex. Duloxetine use and libido problems occur more predominantly in men than women. About 6% of men receiving treatment for depression are affected. Similarly, this side effect showing the connection between Cymbalta and sex is seen in about 7% of all patients getting treatment.

Cymbalta Sexual Effects In Females

The sexual side effects of Cymbalta in women affect their sexual health just as much as they do in men. Similar to men, female patients with depression experience a decreased sex drive. Furthermore, women experience delayed lubrication making sex quite unpleasant. Relative to men, women are at a higher risk of depression and anxiety but a lower risk of sexual effects.

Orgasm Problems

Women who are on duloxetine may find it difficult to reach an orgasm. Having an unsatisfying orgasm is another symptom of orgasm dysfunction in women. As a result, some of them may stop taking the drug altogether. The FDA reports that nearly 2% of women experience duloxetine orgasm abnormalities of any type. And once they become frequent, women stop taking antidepressant drugs.

Decreased Libido

Like men, women can also experience duloxetine libido changes, although to a lower extent: only 1% of women are reported to have such problems.

Managing Sexual Problems

The connection between Cymbalta and sex can be truly disturbing. Some patients might be ashamed and not talk to their doctor about it. But the truth is, it’s possible to find a way out of this situation. And there are steps one can take to manage the Cymbalta sex drive changes.

Woman patient discussing Cymbalta sexual side effects with doctor.

It is essential to talk to a doctor about these intimate problems with Duloxetine use. That is because not all remedies will work for everyone. Therefore, if a patient is experiencing sexual side effects of Cymbalta, it would be recommended to talk to a doctor to adjust a dose. If taking two 30mg capsules daily makes patients experience these symptoms, they should consider reducing the dosage.

Apart from the above-mentioned general advice, if Duloxetine is causing erectile dysfunction, here are some recommendations one can use to manage these effects:

  • Choose proper timing. Determining proper timing can be helpful. For example, if one takes the medicine once a day, taking it after sex may solve the problem.
  • Wait for the adverse reactions to disappear. Usually, the adverse reactions are felt the most at the beginning of the treatment. They tend to go away in several weeks, or sometimes months. Wait and see if the duloxetine erectile dysfunction will go away. It usually happens once the body has adjusted to the antidepressant medication.
  • Change the dosage. As already mentioned, lower doses might cause fewer negative reactions. Consult your doctor before doing so because lowering the dose can cause Duloxetine withdrawal.
  • Consider taking erectile dysfunction medication for men. As for women, Cymbalta and Wellbutrin may be used in combination to counter SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. However, these drugs should be used under close medical supervision.
  • Consider other causes. Apart from antidepressant medications, there are various reasons people may experience problems with sex. Depression itself is one of the causes. Before putting all the blame on the drug, make sure it’s the only cause of such problems.
  • Change the medication. If no other options help for Cymbalta effects on sex, it can be helpful to find some alternative medication. Some antidepressants are less likely to cause intimate problems, so this might be an option. However, only a doctor should facilitate this.

Consult your sexual partner on a possible solution that will be beneficial for both the patient’s mental health and their sexual lives.

The Other Side Of Sex Drive Problems

It is common for antidepressants to have sexual adverse effects on both genders. Cymbalta causes erectile dysfunction, ejaculatory dysfunction, and orgasm problems in men. Duloxetine causes similar intimate problems in females as well. Moreover, depression itself can be the cause of such problems.

Nonetheless, the patients with depressive disorder and taking the medication can use some techniques to manage these effects. Sometimes, sex drive changes can happen as a result of drug abuse. In this case, the only right solution is to find proper addiction treatment as soon as possible. Drug rehabs specializing in antidepressant abuse treatment are worth considering.

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Page Sources

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Published on: May 30th, 2019

Updated on: June 16th, 2021

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.