Zoloft and Sex Drive Effects: Can Sertraline Kill Libido?
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According to the World Health Organization, about 300 million people suffer from depression globally. However, treating it with antidepressants like Zoloft can decrease sexual life. Sexual side effects are considered one the most common and bothersome side effect of Zoloft antidepressant. About 50% of people taking antidepressants are likely to stop medications due to sexual dysfunction. This can lead to depression relapse if not attended to on time. Hence, there is a need to examine the relationship between antidepressants such as Zoloft and sex drive. In the study published by NCBI, was concluded that antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction occurs in approximately 30% to 70% of patients who are treated with sertraline or paroxetine. This infers that anyone on antidepressants, especially on Zoloft should be examined for signs and symptoms of Zoloft sexual side effects.
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Can Zoloft Decrease Sex Drive?
Sexual dysfunction is a common side effect of Zoloft and can have the significant impact on the person’s quality of life, relationships, mental health, and recovery. Zoloft medications like other SSRIs cause sexual side effects due to sertraline mechanism of action. SSRIs raise the body’s serotonin level thereby making the individual taking the meds feel calm and less anxious. This sense of calm and stability prevents the body’s sex hormones from transmitting to the brain thereby hampering sex drive drastically.
Possible Sertraline sexual side effects include:
- decrease in sexual desire and excitement
- delayed or diminished orgasm
- painful ejaculation
- penile anesthesia
- loss of sensation in vagina and nipples
- persistent genital arousal
- non-puerperal lactation in women among others
According to the NCBI study, a prevalence of SSRI sexual dysfunction ranges approximately between 5%-10% with few presenting with delayed orgasm and erectile dysfunction. NCBI also claims that SSRIs have an approximate prevalence of 58%-70% with most men presenting with erectile dysfunction and abnormal ejaculation while females present with delayed or absent orgasm.
Sexual Side Effects of Zoloft for Women
Due to article in Harvard Health Publishing, 23% of women in the U.S. between the ages of 40 and 50 are on antidepressants. It’s also been established that women are two and a half times more likely to use antidepressants than men. This fact illustrates to us that women are more likely to become depressed than men.
The common Zoloft sexual side effects in women are:
- Non-puerperal lactation
- Engorgement of the clitoris
- Delay or absence of orgasm
- Unlubricated vagina
- Sexual discomfort and
- General loss of sexual interest
Sertraline Sexual Side Effects for Men
Erectile dysfunction affects about 30 million American male. This problem touches patients of all ages. Studies have even shown that men have a higher frequency of medication-induced sexual dysfunction than women although women have a higher severity of dysfunction than men.
Possible Zoloft side effects in men include difficulty in getting and maintaining an erection, delayed or blocked orgasm and it is also possible for the sperm count to drop drastically.
Ways to Decrease Zoloft Sexual Side Effects
The first step in combating sertraline sexual side effects is affirming the sexual side effect is drug-induced. Thereafter, the following steps can be taken:
- Adjust dosage: although sexual effects of SSRIs and other antidepressants can occur at any dose, it is a good idea to talk to a doctor about switching to a smaller dose. It is also noteworthy that reducing dosage without talking to a doctor is dangerous. It is vital for a patient to be closely monitored for a couple of weeks after a dosage adjustment. Don’t try to increase sexual desire by combining alcohol with sertraline dose.
- Medication timing: timing can go a long way to affect sexual drive and performance especially when a prescription like Zoloft affect libido. It might be a great idea to take Zoloft after sex especially if the medication is once daily.
- Sex scheduling: time of the day in which sertraline side effect are more pronounced vary. It might be a great idea to schedule the sexual activity for the time of day in which medications’ side effects are less pronounced. Ask a doctor when to take Zoloft to minimize sexual adverse effects.
- Taking a Drug Holiday: Zoloft can be stopped for a few days before sex depending on how long it stays in the body. This requires careful, conscious sex planning and although it isn’t an automatic solution, it can work well when the doctor’s instruction about stopping and resuming a medication is followed correctly. However, there is a high chance of relapse especially if the medication is one whose effects leave the body system very rapidly.
- Reassessing prescription: if sertraline dosage is changed, but medication still fail to give desired results, another step is switching the brand of antidepressants in use. The doctor is in the best position to suggest if there is a brand with a less sexual side effect. They might also be able to add another drug to the prescription such as Viagra for maintaining an erection in men and bupropion as an antidepressant aid in women.
- Timeline: a straightforward solution for side effects of SSRIs is waiting it out. These side effects might go on their own after a couple of weeks or months depending on how an individual’s body adapts to them. It is a good idea to wait and see if the sexual side effects go away. Establishing a timeline is also essential even after dosage change or patient had switched to sertraline alternative. It is necessary that the doctor and patient work together to determine if the symptoms improve or not.
- Use lubricants: sertraline sexual side effects such as vaginal dryness can be treated with a lubricant. Women are even more likely to benefit from the water-based vaginal lubricant.
- Foreplay: spending more time during foreplay will also help overcome delayed physical response to sex.
- Physical activity: another great way to counter the sexual side effects caused by Zoloft is to exercise frequently especially before sex. 20 minutes of exercise has been found to relatively boost sexual defects due to antidepressant medications.
- Talking about it: a lot of individuals find sexual side effects of antidepressants like Zoloft agonizing. These leads to giving up on medications with a hope of having better sex lives. Weaning off Zoloft without medical support mean symptoms of depression may return, and this will likely lead to more problems such as poor quality of life and mood swings. It is necessary to discuss with a sexual partner when deciding on a course of action to take in managing Zoloft induced sexual dysfunctions. This will help in deciding on a course of action that will not hurt both parties’ mental health.
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