Sex Rx: Paxil and Your Sex Life
Paroxetine (Paxil) is widely used in the United States. It is most often prescribed for anxiety , panic disorder , depression , obsessive-compulsive disorders , among other conditions. While Paxil is effective in treating these disorders, it has been associated with sexual problems.
How Paroxetine WorksParoxetine is one of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications work by blocking the reuptake of the brain chemical serotonin, which helps regulate mood.
Other Drugs of This Class (SSRIs)
Possible Sexual Side Effects Associated With Paroxetine
- Decreased sexual desire
- Difficulty reaching orgasm, especially in women
- Erection impairment
- Ejaculatory dysfunction
How This Medication Can Affect Sexual FunctionIt is not yet clear how SSRIs affect sexual function. The effects are believed to be related to the increased level of serotonin, which may affect sexual reflex centers.
Treatment OptionsThere are a number of alternative treatment options available if you are dissatisfied with your sexual functioning while taking paroxetine. But, it is important to talk with your doctor about your concerns first. Although it can be very difficult and embarrassing to discuss your sexual functioning, it is crucial that you communicate with your doctor about it. Never make any changes to your medication regimen or start taking new medications or herbal supplements without your doctor’s knowledge and approval. Here are some possibilities that you and your doctor may decide to have you try:
Wait It OutAs you adjust to your new medication, the sexual side effects may go away.
Decrease the DosageThis tactic will work occasionally, but carries the risk of a relapse of the depression or disorder. Never change your dosage without checking with your doctor first.
Switch MedicationsSince the medical response to SSRIs can vary among people, your doctor will consider the severity of your depression or disorder, as well as your response to the drug before switching to another medication. When switching is appropriate, some options include:
- Bupropion—This antidepressant medication does not affect serotonin. It is less likely than the commonly used SSRIs to cause sexual dysfunction and may actually have prosexual effects. Bupropion is used to treat a number of conditions, such as major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder . It is not recommended for people with eating disorders or seizure disorders .
- Nefazodone—This drug does affect serotonin, but not in the same way as SSRIs. It can be used to treat depression and cause fewer sexual side effects. One of its more troublesome adverse effects is sedation.
- Mirtazapine—This drug is similar to nefazodone in its effect on depression and sexual function. It can also cause sedation.