Efficacy of acupuncture treatment of sexual dysfunction secondary to antidepressants

J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Nov;19(11):862-9. doi: 10.1089/acm.2012.0751. Epub 2013 Jun 21.

Abstract

Background: Antidepressants including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are known to cause secondary sexual dysfunction with prevalence rates as high as 50%-90%. Emerging research is establishing that acupuncture may be an effective treatment modality for sexual dysfunction including impotence, loss of libido, and an inability to orgasm.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the potential benefits of acupuncture in the management of sexual dysfunction secondary to SSRIs and SNRIs.

Subjects: Practitioners at the START Clinic referred participants experiencing adverse sexual events from their antidepressant medication for acupuncture treatment at the Mood and Anxiety Disorders, a tertiary care mood and anxiety disorder clinic in Toronto.

Design: Participants received a Traditional Chinese Medicine assessment and followed an acupuncture protocol for 12 consecutive weeks. The acupuncture points used were Kidney 3, Governing Vessel 4, Urinary Bladder 23, with Heart 7 and Pericardium 6. Participants also completed a questionnaire package on a weekly basis.

Outcomes measured: The questionnaire package consisted of self-report measures assessing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and various aspects of sexual function.

Results: Significant improvement among male participants was noted in all areas of sexual functioning, as well as in both anxiety and depressive symptoms. Female participants reported a significant improvement in libido and lubrication and a nonsignificant trend toward improvement in several other areas of function.

Conclusions: This study suggests a potential role for acupuncture in the treatment of the sexual side-effects of SSRIs and SNRIs as well for a potential benefit of integrating medical and complementary and alternative practitioners.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / chemically induced*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Substances

  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors