Sexual dysfunction in selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and potential solutions: A narrative literature review

Ment Health Clin. 2016 Jun 29;6(4):191-196. doi: 10.9740/mhc.2016.07.191. eCollection 2016 Jul.


Sexual dysfunction is an underdiscussed adverse effect to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and may increase the risk for discontinuation and nonadherence to antidepressant pharmacotherapy. Given the prevalence of depression, health care providers should educate patients about SSRI-associated sexual dysfunction in order to promote patient awareness and medication adherence. This study evaluated primary literature from 1997 to 2015 to identify SSRI-related sexual side effects, therapeutic alternatives, and treatment strategies. The results indicate that paroxetine is associated with the greatest rate of sexual dysfunction among the SSRIs. Potential alternatives to SSRI treatment include bupropion, mirtazapine, vilazodone, vortioxetine, and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. In the event that a subject responds solely to SSRIs but experiences unwanted sexual side effects, bupropion may be added as an adjunctive medication. Some limited evidence also suggests that saffron may reduce some aspects of sexual dysfunction, excluding ability to reach orgasm.

Keywords: SSRI; bupropion; citalopram; delayed ejaculation; escitalopram; fluoxetine; mirtazapine; paroxetine; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; sertraline; sexual dysfunction; sexual side effect; venlafaxine.