Erectile Dysfunction & Anti-Depressants
Anti-depressants, Depression (Depression & ED) has been implicated as a fairly common cause of erectile dysfunction in males. In fact, according to an extensive literature review published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Sexual Medicine (1), the two conditions have a bi-directional relationship such as depressed males are more likely to present with erectile dysfunction (Erectile Dysfunction Cause) and males with sexual dysfunction are at much higher risk of developing depression.
However surprisingly, most patients develop even severe erectile dysfunction after initiating anti-depressant therapy.
Pathophysiology of ED Due to Anti-Depressants Use
There are several proposed mechanisms that may explain emergence or worsening of erectile dysfunction during anti-depressant therapy; a few are listed below:
- The direct side effect of anti-depressant: Most anti-depressants exert their action by modulating the secretion and serum levels of different hormones and neurotransmitters in the blood. Consequently, it may alter the secretion of chemicals that are required for achieving or maintaining the erection (likewise, females on anti-depressant therapy develop vaginal dryness (Vagina | Vaginal Laxity) that affects the quality of sexual life). According to a clinical trial conducted by Montejo & Associates (2), 73.4% patients on Duloxetine (an anti-depressant) develop varying degrees of erectile dysfunction (Erectile | Erectile Dysfunction Remedies) within 34 weeks of initiating the therapy
- Erectile dysfunction is due to another organic or inorganic ailment: Often times, people develop erectile dysfunction (Erectile Dysfunction Help) due to other reasons such as side effect of certain anti-hypertensive drugs like 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (3) or other pharmacological agents, advanced, uncontrolled diabetes (Diabetes & Erectile Dysfunction) or other medical/ psychological conditions and so forth. Obviously, in all such condition erectile dysfunction is not due to anti-depressants alone.
- Certain other factors: psychological and relationship issues (These Kill Your Sex Life) (a disgust for the act of intercourse or for the partner, a traumatic sexual experience etc.) can also lead to erectile dysfunction in addition to depression. Other related factors that present with ED and depression are; drug abuse (both illicit and prescription), alcohol abuse (Alcohol Binge Drinking) and chronic smoking (It’s Time to Stop Smoking).
Risk Factors that may Increase the Risk of Developing Erectile Dysfunction With Anti-Depressant Use
Research and clinical data indicate that the choice if anti-depressants can significantly influence your chances of developing erectile dysfunction:
- If you are over the age of 50-55 years
- If you are a chronic smoker or alcoholic consumer
- If you have certain other health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, prostate issues (PSA Test and Prostate Cancer) etc.
- Choice of anti-depressants can also influence your risk of developing erectile dysfunction. For example, risk of ED with paroxetine is 43% and mirtazapine (Mirtazapine Wiki Page) 41% patients develop ED.
Managing Erectile Dysfunction Due to Anti-Depressants
If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED Treatment Options) after initiating anti-depressant therapy, here is what you can do:
- Speak to a healthcare professional to confirm if your erectile dysfunction is due to anti-depressants and not because of another health issue
- You can ask for a revised prescription; for example anti-depressants like bupropion are associated with only 20-22% risk of developing ED.
- Most drug-induced erectile dysfunction responds fairly well to phosphodiesterase inhibitors (like Viagra or Sildenafil) etc.
- You can also choose alternative therapeutic options; for example, Labbate and Associates (5) suggested that choosing anxiolytic drugs (Anxiolytic Wiki Page) can help a great deal in managing mild cases of depression associated with ED. Drugs like Buspirone have anti-depressant activity and can be safely used in mild cases without aggravating the risk of erectile dysfunction in patients.
- Research also suggests that sexual dysfunction is usually an early symptom and resolves spontaneously with time due to adaption, tolerance or remission (5).
It is highly recommended to maintain a functional and stress-free lifestyle (Yoga Sexual Benefits For Your Life). Increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables (Fruit And Veg Learn More) that are high in anti-oxidants (Libido Boosters – Food Part 1) and consume proteins to maintain steady levels of energy. You can also consume dietary supplements such as zinc and selenium that are highly associated with improving male sexual health.
Speak to a healthcare professional if sexual dysfunction is interfering it your quality of life and relationships with Dr. Elist.