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4 ways to deal with the sexual side effects of antidepressants

It’s estimated that about 13% of American adults take antidepressants. These drugs are life-saving measures for many, making life with a depressive brain much easier to navigate and much more pleasant to live.

But sadly, one of the most common gripes among people taking antidepressants is the sexual side effects they can cause. This type of medication is associated with a lowered libido, reduced genital sensitivity, erectile dysfunction, difficulty reaching orgasm, and various other issues that can really kill the mood in the bedroom. And that, in turn, makes depression worse for some people, rather than better. Quite a bummer!

There are almost always workarounds to these problems, however, annoying as they may be. Here are some suggestions for improving your sexual functioning even when your antidepressants seem determined to tank your libido…

1. Try different meds

While many antidepressants – especially SSRIs, like Prozac and Zoloft – cause sexual side effects, not all do. One of the best-known depression medications not associated with negative sexual effects is Wellbutrin (bupropion), and there are others as well.

Have a chat with your doctor about other medication options you could try, and make sure to follow their recommendations in terms of weaning off your current med (if applicable), gradually easing onto the new one, and giving it a fair shot before trying another.

If, however, your current medication works great for you in every way except sexually, you should probably stay on it, because your health and happiness are arguably more important than sex – but you may want to try some of the suggestions below.

2. Use highly stimulating sex toys

Even if you weren’t necessarily fond of sex toys pre-medication, they can be super helpful if your libido and/or sexual sensitivity have been affected by antidepressants. They can make sex and masturbation feel exciting and pleasurable again, and the intense stimulation they offer can help push you over the edge into orgasm if other forms of touch aren’t quite doing the trick anymore.

In particular, vibration can be fantastic for people dealing with low sensitivity, because it stimulates not only the surface of your skin but also the flesh beneath. A rumbly clitoral vibrator, prostate massager, massage wand, or vibrating stroker might be exactly what you need to get the pleasure flowing again.

3. Mix up your mental stimulation

Most people’s libido, pleasure, and orgasms are spurred by a blend of physical and mental stimulation, and you may need to lean more heavily on the mental aspect if the physical aspect has become a struggle.

Turn to your favorite porn clips, erotica stories, steamy movies, or hot fantasies to pump up the volume on your arousal. You may also find that the thrill of novelty helps, meaning that exploring new kinks, acts, and fantasies could kickstart your stalled-out arousal.

4. Deprioritize orgasm

This may not be what you want to hear when you just wanna get off, but there’s a lot of pleasure to be found by taking orgasm off the table entirely. Sex can too easily feel like a mad race toward the finish line, and you can miss out on plenty of delights along the way if you take that approach.

Try shifting your sexuality so it focuses less on orgasm and more on sensuality, pleasure, fun, excitement, adventure, intimacy, and connection. Even the most stubborn of orgasm issues don’t have to ruin your sex life; you may just have to reimagine what sex means for you.

Have you dealt with sexual side effects from antidepressants? What advice do you have?


Kate Sloan is a journalist, blogger, podcaster, and educator who has been writing about sex online and in print for over five years. She writes about sex, kink, relationships, fashion, beauty, writing, and mental health. She has been voted a Sex Blogging Superhero for four years running, and her words reach over 22,000 sex nerds, weirdos and queerdos every month. As a journalist and essayist, Kate has written for Glamour, Teen Vogue, Daily Xtra, the Establishment, Maisonneuve, Herizons, the Plaid Zebra, xoJane, and more.

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