Cutting the First Turf to Heal Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction: A Male Retrospective Cohort Study

Medicines (Basel). 2022 Sep 1;9(9):45. doi: 10.3390/medicines9090045.


Post-SSRI sexual dysfunction (PSSD) is a set of heterogeneous sexual problems, which may arise during the administration of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and persist after their discontinuation. PSSD is a rare clinical entity, and it is commonly associated with non-sexual concerns, including emotional and cognitive problems and poor quality of life. To date, however, no effective treatment is available. The aim of this study was to retrospectively evaluate the potential efficacy of the different treatments used in clinical practice in improving male PSSD. Of the 30 patients referred to our neurobehavioral outpatient clinic from January 2020 to December 2021, 13 Caucasian male patients (mean age 29.53 ± 4.57 years), previously treated with SSRIs, were included in the study. Patients with major depressive disorder and/or psychotic symptoms were excluded a priori to avoid overlapping symptomatology, and potentially reduce the misdiagnosis rate. To treat PSSD, we decided to use drugs positively affecting the brain dopamine/serotonin ratio, such as bupropion and vortioxetine, as well as other compounds. This latter drug is known not to cause or reverse iatrogenic SD. Most patients, after treatment with vortioxetine and/or nutraceuticals, reported a significant improvement in all International Index of Erectile Function-(IIEF-5) domains (p < 0.05) from baseline (T0) to 12-month follow-up (T1). Moreover, the only patient treated with pelvic muscle vibration reached very positive results. Although our data come from a retrospective open-label study with a small sample size, drugs positively modulating the central nervous system serotonin/dopamine ratio, such as vortioxetine, could be used to potentially improve PSSD. Large-sample prospective cohort studies and randomized clinical trials are needed to investigate the real prevalence of this clinical entity and confirm such a promising approach to a potentially debilitating illness.

Keywords: PSSD; SSRI; pharmacological approach.

Grant support

This research received funding from the current research of the Italian Ministry of Health.