Background: Antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), venlafaxine, and clomipramine, are frequently associated with sexual dysfunction. Other antidepressants (nefazodone, mirtazapine, bupropion, amineptine, and moclobemide) with different mechanisms of action seem to have fewer sexual side effects. The incidence of sexual dysfunction is underestimated, and the use of a specific questionnaire is needed.
Method: The authors analyzed the incidence of antidepressant-related sexual dysfunction in a multicenter, prospective, open-label study carried out by the Spanish Working Group for the Study of Psychotropic-Related Sexual Dysfunction. The group collected data from April 1995 to February 2000 on patients with previously normal sexual function who were being treated with antidepressants alone or antidepressants plus benzodiazepines. One thousand twenty-two outpatients (610 women, 412 men; mean age = 39.8 +/- 11.3 years) were interviewed using the Psychotropic-Related Sexual Dysfunction Questionnaire, which includes questions about libido, orgasm, ejaculation, erectile function, and general sexual satisfaction.
Results: The overall incidence of sexual dysfunction was 59.1% (604/1022) when all antidepressants were considered as a whole. There were relevant differences when the incidence of any type of sexual dysfunction was compared among different drugs: fluoxetine, 57.7% (161/279); sertraline, 62.9% (100/159); fluvoxamine, 62.3% (48/77); paroxetine, 70.7% (147/208); citalopram, 72.7% (48/66); venlafaxine, 67.3% (37/55); mirtazapine, 24.4% (12/49); nefazodone, 8% (4/50); amineptine, 6.9% (2/29); and moclobemide, 3.9% (1/26). Men had a higher frequency of sexual dysfunction (62.4%) than women (56.9%), although women had higher severity. About 40% of patients showed low tolerance of their sexual dysfunction.
Conclusion: The incidence of sexual dysfunction with SSRIs and venlafaxine is high, ranging from 58% to 73%, as compared with serotonin-2 (5-HT2) blockers (nefazodone and mirtazapine), moclobemide, and amineptine.