Recently, “Men’s Health” Sex Writer Zachary Zane asked Dr. Joe Kort to share his expertise on the impact of antidepressants on sex drive and what to do about it to save a relationship. In the magazine’s “Sexplain it” column, “Broken in Berlin” asked for help. He was struggling with his current relationship. He loves the man he is with, but “Broken” takes antidepressants and it is affecting his sex drive. He worries his partner will think he has little interest in sex when he just doesn’t have the energy or sex drive. Will he lose his partner?
Here are Dr. Kort’s comments:
When I see clients, so many of the problems I encounter in relationships stem from not discussing sex. I’m talking about the real and much-needed transparency about desires and preferences couples should be discussing and negotiating even before they enter a committed relationship. In addition, as the relationship progresses, if sexual preferences change, the couple also should be having those conversations.
In the case of “Broken in Berlin,” he and his partner need to have the sexual health conversation. In fact, they should have had it before they started a sexual relationship to gain an understanding of why “Broken” sometimes has no sex drive. Did “Broken” tell his partner that he takes antidepressants? That is another piece of information that should be shared before the relationship becomes sexual.
Sex is absolutely central to nearly all relationships, but far too many couples are unwilling to have the conversation or afraid to approach it directly with their partners. As a result, sexual relationships like the one with “Broken in Berlin” and his partner are going to happen when they could be avoidable.
I feel these relationships are fixable if couples begin talking. I suggest the individual taking antidepressants do some research to prove to their partner that medication legitimately can affect sex drive.
“Broken” also should seek the advice of his physician. Ask his doctor if he can take short breaks from his medication to get his sex drive back. Never do this without your physician’s authorization!
“Broken” also can ask his physician if there is a substitute or addition for his medication that will not diminish his sex drive.
As far as pursuing an open relationship, I recommend this as the last conversation to have. Don’t feel forced to have an open relationship because your sex drive is low. That may not be the right solution to improve your sexual relationship and it possibly can do more harm than good.
Neither partner should feel shamed or guilty about what is happening in the bedroom. They should ask themselves, “Am I really having the kind of sex I want to have with my partner, and if not, what can we do about it?” Talk about it.
This person potentially could be your life partner; get your desires and feelings out in the open now. If you are mismatched, now is the time to learn that. Talk with your partner, share your sexual fantasies and negotiate a sexual relationship that will work for the two of you. You may find your entire relationship deepens and grows stronger because you have a greater understanding of each other’s needs and desires. There never should be unstated expectations.
Here is the “Sexplain it” column that was published in Men’s Health:
Here are a few facts about antidepressants and what you can do to improve your sex drive:
- More than 16 million Americans live with depression, and antidepressants often are the option that provide some relief from their symptoms.
- Many antidepressants have shown to impact sex drive with symptoms such as reduced libido, delayed ejaculation, erectile dysfunction and an inability (or delay) to reach orgasm.
- Serotin-enhancing antidepressants can dull sexual desire, studies show.
- Sometimes, it’s not just the antidepressant that is interfering with your sex life. It can be your age, alcohol use, stress and other medications that are contributing factors.
- Before talking with your physician about your medication, give it a little more time. In some cases, sexual drive will return.
- If this does not happen, talk with your physician about switching medications, making some adjustments to it, finding alternative therapies, or taking a break from your medications to see if your sex drive improves. Do not stop taking your medication without your doctor’s approval.
- Be patient. You may have to get creative to experience intimacy and sexual satisfaction.
- Timing can make a difference. You may feel a lower sex drive right after you take your medication, and a higher sex drive as the medication starts to wear off. If you are most likely to have sex in the evening, take your medication earlier in the day, for example.
- Try exercising. Sometimes it raises sex drive. Exercise together!
- Step out of the box and get creative. Try sex toys, role-playing or other different forms of intimacy to help get you aroused.
- Be honest and open with your partner about what is going on.
- Don’t blame your partner for your issue. It’s the antidepressant that is causing the problem. It’s no one’s fault.
- Consider meeting with a certified sex therapist.
- Most importantly, communicate with your partner honestly and continue communicating.