A Real-World Study on Antidepressant-Associated Sexual Dysfunction in 2144 Outpatients: The SALSEX I Study

Arch Sex Behav. 2019 Apr;48(3):923-933. doi: 10.1007/s10508-018-1365-6. Epub 2019 Feb 21.


The objective of this cross-sectional study was to evaluate the frequency, impact, and management of sexual dysfunction associated with commonly prescribed antidepressants available in psychiatry outpatient clinics in Spain. We recruited 2163 adult patients who had undergone treatment with antidepressants for at least 8 weeks and had a history of normal sexual functioning before the prescription of the antidepressant, except for mildly impaired libido. We used the Psychotropic-Related Sexual Dysfunction Questionnaire (PRSexDQ-SALSEX) for evaluating the frequency and tolerance of sexual dysfunction and whether this side effect was spontaneously reported. Overall, 79% patients showed sexual dysfunction, as indicated by a total score ≥ 3 on the PRSexDQ-SALSEX; 64% showed moderate-severe sexual dysfunction, with no differences between men and women on these outcomes. In the multivariate logistic regression analysis, treatment with a serotonergic antidepressant and having a severe clinical state of psychiatric illness were the factors associated with the highest likelihood of presenting with sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction was spontaneously reported by 838 (41%) of the 2066 evaluable patients for this outcome. Among patients with sexual dysfunction, this condition was poorly tolerated by 22% of the patients, with these frequencies being significantly higher in men than in women. The most frequently used strategies employed by the psychiatrists in our study for dealing with sexual dysfunction were switching to another antidepressant (34%) and waiting for spontaneous resolution (33%). In conclusion, our results indicate that despite being a well-known, long-standing side effect of antidepressants, sexual dysfunction continues to be extremely common in patients receiving antidepressants, especially serotonergic ones, potentially jeopardizing treatment success in a substantial proportion of patients. There are important sex differences in the reporting and tolerance of sexual dysfunction that require further investigation.

Keywords: Antidepressant; Psychotropic; Sex differences; Sexual dysfunction; Sexual functioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / chemically induced*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / chemically induced*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents