Amitriptyline and Sexual Function: A Systematic Review Updated for Sexual Health Practice

Am J Mens Health. 2018 Mar;12(2):370-379. doi: 10.1177/1557988317734519. Epub 2017 Oct 11.


Amitriptyline is an old drug but is still prevalently used as the first-line treatment for a variety of common diseases. Surprisingly, knowledge of sexual risks with amitriptyline comes from only one clinical trial and several case reports from three decades ago. In the current study, a systematic review of the literature following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) related to amitriptyline and sexual dysfunction (SD) was performed. The frequency, gender-difference, types, disease-specificity and time course of SD, and the relationship between SD and nonsexual adversity were studied. A total of 14 publications, including 8 qualified randomized clinical trials, were eligible. The frequency of SD in overall, male and female patients was 5.7, 11.9 and 1.7%, respectively. SD was six-fold higher in men than women. The frequency of SD was 6.9% in depressive patients compared with 0.8% in non-depressive patients ( p = .008), and gradually decreased at 8 weeks after treatment ( p = .02). Amitriptyline impacted arousal and libido more than orgasm and ejaculation in male patients but mainly libido in female patients. SD was significantly correlated with insomnia linearly whereas somnolence and nausea dually. Therefore, amitriptyline-associated SD mainly occurs in depressive and male patients, disturbs each phase of the sexual response cycle in men but mainly libido in women, gradually decreases under long-term treatment, and can be predicted by the co-existence of insomnia, somnolence or nausea during treatment. Clinicians should caution and tailor the gender and disease vulnerability of amitriptyline in their practice.

Keywords: amitriptyline; ejaculation; impotence; libido; orgasm; sexual dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Amitriptyline / administration & dosage*
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / administration & dosage*
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / drug therapy*


  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Amitriptyline