Background: In laboratory studies, exercise immediately before sexual stimuli improved sexual arousal of women taking antidepressants . We evaluated if exercise improves sexual desire, orgasm, and global sexual functioning in women experiencing antidepressant-induced sexual side effects.
Methods: Fifty-two women who were reporting antidepressant sexual side effects were followed for 3 weeks of sexual activity only. They were randomized to complete either three weeks of exercise immediately before sexual activity (3×/week) or 3 weeks of exercise separate from sexual activity (3×/week). At the end of the first exercise arm, participants crossed to the other. We measured sexual functioning, sexual satisfaction, depression, and physical health.
Results: Exercise immediately prior to sexual activity significantly improved sexual desire and, for women with sexual dysfunction at baseline, global sexual function. Scheduling regular sexual activity significantly improved orgasm function; exercise did not increase this benefit. Neither regular sexual activity nor exercise significantly changed sexual satisfaction.
Conclusions: Scheduling regular sexual activity and exercise may be an effective tool for the behavioral management of sexual side effects of antidepressants