SSRIS: THEIR IMPACT ON YOUR LIBIDO & HOW TO FIX IT

Guest written by Missy Modell, a musical parody artist and activist focused on the intersection of social justice and pop culture. Missy is the founder of YES MAM Creative, a consultancy for mission-based brands. You can find Missy on Instagram at @missymodell.

The link between your mind and body cannot be understated. Your brain is the biggest sex organ after all! It’s no wonder that when you are dealing with chemicals in the brain, it impacts everything from your mood, to sex drive, to your ability to orgasm. When dealing with depression, anxiety, or other related symptoms, taking supportive medications may help the underlying issue but affect other areas of your life. 

QUICK LINKS:

  1. What are SSRIs?
  2. How SSRIs Impact Libido
  3. 7 Sex Tips for People Using SSRIs

What are SSRIs?

A majority of prescription antidepressants are categorized as SSRIs aka, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Commonly used to help manage depression and anxiety, they work by raising or stabilizing the serotonin in the body, which can help those who take it experience sensations of calmness and relaxation. 

However, this same sense of calmness and emotional stability can also impact sex drive by “preventing the hormones that cause our bodies to respond to sex from transmitting their message to our brains,” (Healthline). While prescription drugs affect different people in various ways, most of the common disruptions include low libido, delayed lubrication or erection, and difficulty in orgasming.

 "I find the benefits of taking Lexapro to outweigh a quicker route to orgasm.” - Missy M.

The Effects of SSRIs on Your Sex Life

Around 71% of those who take SSRIs experience some form of sexual disruption (VeryWell Mind). The embarrassment or reluctance to talk about this, has researchers anticipating that these statistics might be even higher. 

“I’ve been on some sort of SSRI since I was 13 years old. In the time periods in between, I did notice that I was able to more quickly orgasm and even felt it more throughout my body. For reference, I do have a vague memory of orgasming from a back massager in literally 1 minute when I was around 11 years old. Don’t remember what that’s like! That being said, although I am able to orgasm now, I do find it takes much longer than when I am not on some sort of medication. But, even with this addition of time, I find the benefits of taking Lexapro to outweigh a quicker route to orgasm.” - Missy M. 

7 Tips for People on SSRIs:

  1. Communication! Openly discussing how you feel with both yourself and partner(s) not only removes the stigma around this conversation, but also creates a sense of acceptance with yourself. 
  2. Patience. Be kind to yourself, especially if you are just starting out on medication. Try not to put pressure on yourself to reach the finish line, but instead pay attention to what feels good.  
  3. Spending time with yourself. Find pleasure inside AND outside the bedroom. Getting in tune with your body will create deeper connections to yourself, whether you’re out on a walk in nature, or trying a new sex toy. Speaking of which…
  4. Try a sex toy! Direct stimulation from a sex toy is a great way to experiment with what works best for you. Shop for the best sex toys at Lovers.
  5. Continue to make healthy choices. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating regularly all affect both your mood AND sex life.
  6. Don’t stop taking your medication cold turkey! If you’re choosing to wean off medication, make sure to speak with your doctor or psychiatrist first. Stopping medication abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms and other negative physical feelings. 
  7. Don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor- different medications affect people differently! So just because one medication doesn’t work for you, doesn’t mean they all will not work! 

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Further Readings:

Coping with Side Effects of SSRIs: Harvard Health
How to Reduce Sexual Side Effects of SSRIs: Very Well Mind
Managing Antidepressant Effects on Sex Drive: Healthline

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LOVERS