Racy Stacy: Antidepressants and sex

Picture this: you are with a hook-up or your partner and things are getting steamy. You both have the desire to have sex but when it is time to do it, you fall short. For those with a penis, you may find it difficult to get an erection and for people with vaginas, you may find it difficult to get physically aroused.

You may think something is wrong with you or you may be embarrassed but the answer to why this happens may lie in your medicine cabinet.

According to Statista, 17% of college students in the United States are prescribed antidepressants. For people on medication under the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) umbrella, libido is more likely to be affected. Medications such as Zoloft, Prozac, Cymbalta and Lexapro are all SSRIs that often lower sex drive.

Time for a little science lesson! SSRIs work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that carries signals between brain nerve cells. SSRIs block the reuptake of serotonin into neurons. Before, during and after sex there are a lot of hormones being released in your body. With an SSRI, serotonin, which is a crucial part of sex and libido, is not being absorbed in your neurons.

Without serotonin absorption, erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness and low libido are more likely to occur.

Now that you know what may be causing issues in the bedroom, what can you do? The answer is not to stop taking your medication if you need it. Sex is great but being healthy is even better. If sexual dysfunction is happening, talk with your partner and let them know what is happening and why it is happening. The last thing you want is for your partner to feel unattractive because you can’t get an erection.

Having sex before you take your medicine can help decrease sexual dysfunction since your body will have a lower amount of the medication. You could also talk to your doctor about the sexual side effects that come with the medication and see if switching medications may help. It may also help to keep the same medication and add another medication such as Wellbutrin which treats depression and increases sex drive.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to listen to your body. Do not take drastic measures on your own; talk to your doctor and keep your partner in the loop.