Introduction: Treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may lead to sexual dysfunction in up to 70% of patients. Because the SSRIs are widely used antidepressants, their propensity to cause sexual dysfunction may affect compliance with therapy and ultimately treatment success. To date, the pathophysiological mechanism of sexual dysfunction caused by SSRIs remains incompletely understood, and the management of SSRIs-induced sexual dysfunction remains unsatisfactory. We suggest that medications that antagonize serotonin receptors such as trazodone may improve sexual dysfunction reverting the stimulation of serotonin receptors by SSRIs.
Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of trazodone administration in the management of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction.
Methods: Twenty patients (11 men/9 women) with SSRIs-induced sexual dysfunction were recruited for the study. Trazodone was added to the existing SSRI regimen in open-label fashion for 4 weeks (50 mg for the first week increased to 100 mg until the completion of the study). The improvement in the 4 dimensions of sexual function (desire, erection or lubrication problems in women, ejaculation or orgasm in women, and overall satisfaction by both sexes) was the primary outcome measure of the study.
Results: Fifteen subjects completed the study. Results indicated improvement in sexual function and overall clinical improvement (depression, anxiety) as well. Specific gender differences indicated improvement in erectile performance in men and lubrication in women. No correlations were noted between clinical improvement of depression or anxiety and improvement in sexual dysfunction.
Conclusions: The 5-HT2 antagonist, trazodone, may be beneficial in the management of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. Large-scale, placebo-controlled, double-blind studies with 5-HT2 antagonists are required to substantiate these preliminary observations.