Sexual Side Effects and Psychiatric Medications

Reporting a sexual side effect while using psychiatric medications is a common complaint for both men and women. The severity of sexual side effects vary widely depending on the person, how they react to their medication, the specific medication prescribed, the dosage taken, and any co-existing medical disorders such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Sexual Side Effects

Psychiatric medication may effect sexual function in a number of ways. The severity of sexual side effects may be minor, may ease up as your body adjusts or become a continuing issue that impacts life enjoyment. Sexual side effects include:

  • Erectile problems
  • Orgasm difficulties
  • Problems with arousal and satisfaction
  • A change in the desire for sex

Statistics of Sexual Dysfunction

Most of the research available on impaired sexual function and psychiatric medication focus primarily on depression and antidepressants. Sexual dysfunction however is also a concern for those diagnosed with anxiety disorders, mood disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia to name a few. While 35% to 50% of those with untreated major depression report some type of sexual issue, those taking SSRIs (anti-depressant medication) report 30% to 40% delayed orgasm, 20% report decreased libido, and 10% of men complain of erectile function.

Impact of Psychiatric Medications on Sexual Function

The following classes of medication listed indicate some common drugs within each class that have more reported sexual side effects versus those with fewer reported sexual side effects:


  • More reported side effects: Celexa (citalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Fewer reported sexual side effects: Wellbutrin, Aplenzin, Forfivo XL (bupropion), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Remeron (mirtazapine), Viibryd (vilazodone)


  • Increased side effects: Cozaril (clozapine), Risperdal (risperidone)
  • Fewer reported effects: Abilify (aripiprazole), Zyprexa (olanzapine), Seroquel (quetiapine)


  • Increased sexual side effects: Valium (diazepam), Mellaril (thioridazine)
  • Less reported effects: BuSpar (buspirone)

Reduce Psychiatric Sexual Side Effects

The solution is not to stop the medication you need for your mental health issues but rather to work with your psychiatrist to find an effective medication or combination of medications that work for you and reduce any sexual dysfunction that you have been experiencing.

Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment – there are many avenues of treatment available to help you live a full and satisfying life. Let Dr. Hege help.

About Darvin Hege

Dr. Darvin Hege, MD, PC, is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is an Emory Hospital residency trained psychiatrist who has been practicing psychiatry for more than 25 years. He maintains over 50 hours of AMA certified education each year to stay informed of advances in psychiatry.

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