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The 2 weeks of my sex life I lost to Zoloft

My doctor was mildly amused when I told her that I run a sex toy review blog. “Some people experience a loss of libido,” she said later, after she’d prodded my cervix, “and in rare cases, inability to orgasm.”

I laughed as I replied, “well, that would be a deal breaker.”

I filled the prescription and nodded politely as the soft-spoken pharmacist smiled and explained that I might have suicidal thoughts. All of this was new to me, but it seemed easy enough.

I thought I was just being paranoid the first time it happened. I was still on just 25 milligrams a day and was having no side effects whatsoever. But as I masturbated, I felt that something was off. It didn’t feel as good as usual. It was probably just a fluke, though. I blamed the porn, then switched to something hotter. It didn’t seem to make a difference, but I told myself it did.

A few more masturbation sessions later, the problem was coming into focus. I noticed that there were no peaks and valleys of pleasure anymore. My G-spot felt non-existent. My clit felt numb. The masturbation didn’t hold my interest, and my mind wandered. More than once, I considered putting the toys down and quitting in the middle of things.

I knew how fucked up that thought was, but instead I turned the Eroscillator up to its top speed. I re-adjusted the Mystic Wand. I squeezed the Minna Ola as hard as I could for as long as I could. I pretended all of this was normal, despite the creeping dread that it was not.

Even worse, my orgasm felt out of reach, like something I had to hunt for and then grasp quickly when it came near, rather than something I could almost fully control — to the point of timing it down to the second.

I eventually did come. Ironically, my orgasms on Zoloft were always intense — probably due to the long-ass build-up.

When I started to believe that what I was experiencing was real, I Googled “Zoloft numb genitals.” I tweeted about my issue. And out of the woodwork, very quickly, I found people with the same problem, and not just that — people with the problem after they stopped taking antidepressants. I’m not a hypochondriac, but that article scared the shit out of me.

“I know my body,” I told my boyfriend. “I know what those toys should feel like. And they don’t.”

Still, I gave it one more chance. I was on 50 milligrams at this point. I whipped out the Crystal Delights Star Delight, hoping it would blow my mind as always. Instead, it didn’t feel like much of anything. It certainly didn’t feel like it was hitting my G-spot.

I knew then, for sure, that I was not hallucinating. No matter what I did, no matter which amazing toy I used, it felt like a chore. An uninspiring, pleasureless chore. That is what my favorite thing, the thing I built my online existence on, was reduced to. I was petrified… and furious.

I emailed my doctor and called this side effect “unacceptable.” Predictably, she pointed out that “sadly this was a known risk.” It had been two weeks. I quit cold turkey and didn’t look back.

I am lucky. I do not need this drug to function.1 I have had mere weeks stolen from me, not years. I’m also lucky that I know my body. I am a person who knows what masturbation feels like, but I still thought I was imagining things at first. I worry about other people who wouldn’t realize these effects until years later, if at all.

I’ve known many people for whom antidepressants have been a godsend. Actually, I know people who would be dead by now without Zoloft specifically. But I will never forget how helpless this made me feel. How broken and insane. Before, I could not conceive of being unable to orgasm, or of feeling no pleasure during masturbation. Now I’ve felt it, and it’s deeply terrifying.

I masturbated last night and it was a fucking triumph. I came close to orgasm many times. Easily. My G-spot responded readily to the Penetralia Number 23. I enjoyed the variations in the vibrations from the Minna Ola on my clit. I never, at any point, wanted to stop jacking off. I was enjoying myself.

The orgasm was nothing special — fairly weak, in fact. It came quicker than I would have liked, before I could use all the toys I’d laid out. And I cannot describe to you how good it felt.

  1. I don’t really want to get into why I started Zoloft, but it’s basically for mild anxiety. I’m considering alternative treatments at the moment. I don’t really need suggestions, although everyone keeps mentioning Wellbutrin.

Similarly-salacious material


  1. Sadly, a lot of medications have sexual side effects for both men and women. A number of people I know cannot achieve orgasm at all, or do so with incredible difficulty, because of their medications. Almost all SSRIs have sexual side effects which impede desire, sensation, arousal, or all three. It sucks. Sometimes the side effects go away when you get the dosage to a higher level, which seems weird but holds true for many things, but not always. I suppose it’s a cost/benefit analysis for a lot of us. Me? I’m lucky that my meds only really have the Horrifying Rash of Death as a very rare potential side-effect. So far, I’ve not turned into an itchy zombie. Keepin’ my fingers crossed.

  2. Feel compelled (it’s not a suggestion!) to comment about my wife’s experience on the anti-depression drug merry-go-round. She tried several. Zoloft, Cymbalta and Wellbutrin. Zoloft took the edge off, but she felt disconnected from her body in much the same way you describe. Almost like she was witnessing rather than experiencing what her body was capable of. Sex and masturbation became a chore. The switch to Cymbalta helped her reconnect to her body but still she felt like the “edges” of her life both good and bad were sanded down. Not the desired outcome. She also gained weight during the Zoloft-Cymbalta phase — 30 pounds on a body that had never been in that territory. All attributed to the anti-d’s because her diet never changed. Then Wellbutrin came into her life and everything changed. The weight went back down, the highs were still high, the lows were never too low and the anxiety issues were practically non-existent. After about a year on Wellbutrin, she stopped taking it and has never taken a drug since — that was nearly a decade ago. Not saying that it’s a “cure” but it was the most manageable of any she had taken and didn’t make her feel disconnected. It helped her manage the lows cerebrally vs. pharmaceutically, which was a huge upside. The others she would have needed to stay on and be okay with the disconnect AND the extra weight AND the lack of body-mind-spirit connected sex!

  3. Since I started Celexa, I’ve definitely noticed that it takes longer to orgasm, which can take the fun out of things. I still -can- orgasm and I still have the desire to have sex and/or masturbate, but I would have to say that my sex drive is weaker. If I could find a solid way to manage my general anxiety without an SSRI, I would love to, but a year of talk therapy didn’t help half as much as the drug has. Ugh.

  4. I’m glad you were able to choose not to do it, but I wish my regular masturbation sessions didn’t sound so much like the ones that are unacceptable to you

  5. I suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for many years but didn’t respond well to the pharmacological approach. I was fortunate enough to find a behavioral therapist who believed in biofeedback and meditation/mindfulness/relaxation. As someone who is very in tune with her body, I think you might find success. It’s all about finding/recognizing triggers and employing relaxation/meditation techniques to reduce the feelings of anxiety. I found such success in being able to identify and target my anxiety I actually fell asleep during a 60minute MRI. It takes practice but transcends anxiety.

  6. scary shit. i hope you’ll find another way to cure what ails ya, or to help you along the path to wholeness…without losing something as vital as your sex drive. Many hugs…


  7. I sent some @ replies regarding this on Twitter, but I’ll post a bit more here for discussion purposes.

    Naturally, all medication has different side-effects for people, so these testimonials can’t speak for the drug for everyone, but all of my friends who have taken Wellbutrin say it makes them emotionally numb or zombie-like. None of these people have had vaginas, to my knowledge.

    If spot-treatment is an option that may provide you with the proper anxiety relief, Vistaril may be an option to consider. It’s not a benzodiazepine, which is a positive thing.

    Personally, I was put on Klonopin for mine, and while it helped tame my nighttime anxiety and get me back on a regular sleeping schedule for a while, it stopped working for me. It’s also a benzo, and they can have some severe negative effects with long-term use.

    I was just put on Abilify last week to address depressive symptoms, and, according to the psychiatrist, some of the anxiety… if I’m lucky. So far, I’m still on the fence about it. I wasn’t getting any relief the first two or three days, but now I might be experiencing less of it. Still a lot of despair and worry about the world, but less racing thoughts. But on the downside, I’m having more trouble focusing and I feel heady or tired when I’m on it. I seriously feel like a space cadet. You should hear the way I desperately try to grasp sentences and end up losing them mid-thought. I also haven’t had sex since I started it, so I can’t speak on sexual side-effects yet; my input also may not be as valuable because I’m very difficult to get off anyway. (Abilify also costs a shitton, and if I weren’t getting it for free because I’m unemployed, then I would have told the psychiatrist to fuck off.)

    I hope you get this sorted out. Untreated and treated mental health symptoms have made my sex life something of a mess many times in the past, and it’s an absolutely miserable feeling.

  8. “she felt disconnected from her body in much the same way you describe. Almost like she was witnessing rather than experiencing what her body was capable of.” That’s a horrifyingly accurate description.

  9. I know this isn’t the same, but I’m finding that ever since my son moved back home with his pregnant girlfriend (due in 2 1/2 weeks) that I’m having a really tough time achieving G-spot orgasms. Clitoral – no problem. Fast as ever. It’s just so odd. And distressing.

    I’m just hoping that at some point after the grandsprog is here and we’re no longer racing to re-organize the house, that this problem will self-resolve.

    Add to this that if I don’t have regular vaginal stimulation for a week or two, I start to shrink and become very noticeably more fragile. Menopause is so much fun! I’m only 54, not 74 like you may be envisioning.

    I’m glad things returned to normal for you. You probably know but studies have shown that taking St John’s Wort is as effective as prescription anti-depressants for moderate depression. It might be an alternative worth considering.

    One friend of mine has tried several anti-depressants. She swears by Lexipro. That one is also supposed to suppress libido, but it had the opposite effect for her. It’s the only one that didn’t have side effects for her.

  10. I’m glad that you wrote this up, because it describes exactly what I went through when I was on Zoloft–and get this–it was during the first year of my marriage. At the time, (this was over 17 years ago), the sexual side effects in women were not well documented. The psychiatrist I saw told me that the lack of libido was due to my depression. I replied “But before I started the medications, I was depressed AND horny. Now I’m just depressed.” The doctor more or less dismissed me, as if I wasn’t remembering my joyful–and quite regular–sex life, pre-Zoloft. I never had lack of desire during my marriage, or really during my life, except for the period that I was on Zoloft. I don’t remember how long I took it for–a couple of months. I hope that what you’ve written will help other women to identify if this is happening to them. Moreover, that enjoyment of masturbation is a normal and healthy part of functioning, and not an optional or expendable part of our lives. The effects did not persist after I stopped taking the medications.

    I’ve had positive experiences with Wellbutrin, and it doesn’t have known sexual side effects. I only mention that in the event that someone does need to be on medications to function.

    And now I have to check out the other toys you’ve mentioned–the ones that I do not yet own!

  11. Wanted to share my experiences with anti-depressants as well.

    I took Zoloft for a short time and it made me suicidal. Zoloft, Paxil, Risperdal, and a bunch of other meds have killed my sex drive entirely. I could still orgasm while on them, but I lacked any desire to do so. They didn’t feel as good and I just didn’t care.

    Because I have Bipolar I (and a bunch of other stuff) meds are a necessary evil for me. I stayed on sex destroying meds for years which caused major conflict in my marriage. After my husband almost cheated on me because my sex drive went from hyperactive to non existent, I told my doctors I was no longer willing to take medication with that side effect.

    I now take Lamictal, Abilify (which as Sugarcunt says costs a small fortune), Seroquel (also a small fortune), Xanax, Xanax XR, and Adderall. I hate paying as much as I do for my meds, but at least I want to have sex and masturbate. Once you’ve gone through the hell of not wanting to, it’s worth the money never to go through that again.

    I saw someone mention therapy. Therapy has helped me a lot for situational anxiety and phobias. Not sure what type of anxiety you have. It’s really, really hard work as you basically end up having to force yourself into anxiety provoking situations and learn how to let the anxiety pass. It’s well worth it to try that route to see if you can go med free.

    Also acupuncture can help with anxiety. I do that for my migraines and it’s been such a huge help. I was very skeptical that it would work, but I used to get them 2-3 times a week and now I hardly get a headache at all.

  12. I remember an ex-boyfriend who took anti-depressants, and I always felt so awful when I would ask if he wanted to have sex, and the answer would almost always be “I’m not in the mood”. Not only did I feel frustrated that the only sex I was getting was through masturbation, I felt guilty even asking for sex because I knew part of the problem was the medication. It made me feel like my high libido was the problem and I should just learn to live without sex.

  13. I have never been on anti-depressants. But when I was taking the pill, I completely lost my sex drive. It was terrible. Thankfully, I only dealt with that for a few weeks. I’m glad you’re feeling better.

  14. I was put on Zoloft as a teen for depression. It caused SEVERE side effects including suicidal thoughts and luckily I was taken off it quickly again. I have tried a variety of other drugs and for me all have had a suppressive effect on my sex drive to some degree as well as varying other side effects from increasing my depression and anxiety to making me detached from the world around me.

    The other medication that has effected my sex drive is my contraceptive pill and I am currently taking a month off it after 3 years of taking it to see what effect it has on my general health and mental state as well as my sex drive. My Dr was quite dismissive of all my concerns regarding sex drive and medication in the past which has been endless frustrating.

    It took me years to learn how to orgasm after coming off the meds (I was on them when I became sexually active) and thought I was just one of these woman who wasn’t able to orgasm. Now I believe that Medication was on the main reasons that I was unable to achieve orgasm.

    For my anxiety I have learnt a variety of different techniques via therapy and trial error and manage both my depression and anxiety without meds these days which is great but means I have to be really in tune with my mental state to avoid getting blind sided but either my depression or anxiety but it is effective.

  15. I have been on the opposite side of you to that situation. The last time I was on anti depressants and my sex drive tanked I was dating a guy with a super high sex drive and it really messed him up that I didn’t want to have sex.

    He felt like I didn’t want him and guilty for “pestering” me. It put a huge strain on our relationship and even though I know he knew it was the medication I felt hugely guilty for not wanting sex (while feeling crap because I wanted to want sex dammit)

    It was messy and hard for both of us 🙁

  16. Wow, I can’t imagine having a dismissive doctor on top of all that. Terrible. I would love to hear about the techniques you learned in therapy to manage anxiety.

  17. This is similar to what I did, though I had to do most of it on my own. When I first noticed anxiety, I did nothing. Then it was tanking my school life, and my parents sent me to a therapist. I refused meds, and he ultimately did not help me. I decided I had to do it for myself, so I began learning to notice things more. Being more aware of how I feel, and what causes the anxiety is the best start. From there, you can learn to eliminate some triggers and manage others. It’s hard work, but well worth it. I think it would work for you, since your situation is not likely a major chemical imbalance (which I think is the best reason to use medications in the first place).

  18. I can’t say enough about Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (aka DBT). Pioneered by Marsha Linehan from UW, it’s such an amazingly useful skillset and approach. Designed for folks with Borderline Personality Disorder, I really do feel like it benefits anyone with anxiety, interpersonal issues, or social phobias.

  19. Hope everything is getting better for you~
    Not to downplay your issue, but when you’re feeling up to it, will you pretty please post a review of the minna ola? I see you wrote something up when the toy was introduced, but I’d love to hear how it performs!

  20. Sertraline (the generic of Zoloft) was majorly helpful for me, for developing the ability to better cope with depression and anxiety. It never exactly lowered my sex drive, but it did make it a major undertaking to reach orgasm. Extremely frustrating.

    I also felt like it made it harder for me to focus creatively (writing, making music, etc.) It wasn’t exactly a daze, it didn’t make me feel dull or slow, but it’s like it subdued that little bit of tension that helps motivate me to really dig in and get my thoughts into concrete form.

  21. My antipsychotic, Zeldox, alters sensation and makes it difficult to orgasm. When I do it is tiny bit as good as I know it can be. When I was sick some of my delusions were sexual in nature, and also I don’t currently have a partner, which makes me not want to talk about this with my doctor. I’ve been fine for years, thanks to this medication, which works better than the others I’ve tried. I know I’m missing something that is important to me but right now the stability where I’m able to think (although not as well as before) and get A’s in university (which has come with practice) feels more vital. I really wish I could say, fuck it, and go back to where my intellect and body were functioning in my early teens. I haven’t found medications all that helpful for anxiety. It feels as though it’s more a part of my life now that I’ve “stabilized” than ever. It has a life of its own. I’ve had to slow down to make space for the anxiety to disperse. I rely on my cat. If your anxiety has triggers you can learn to identify, and if you’re the sort of person who can say, ok now I’m going to will myself to relax, while not going crazy thinking, I think the types of therapy you feel most enthusiastic about are a better bet. I’ve found just the choice to pay more attention to the good times/points to be powerful.

  22. Reading this post made me think about all the shit I’ve gone through on meds and write about it on my blog. I linked to you as the inspiration; I hope you don’t mind!

  23. Of course! And you are not giving yourself nearly enough credit. Your post is very important and everyone should read it. My favorite quote was this one:

    Since I was 14, I have used various versions of sex to keep myself from committing suicide. It was smutty fanfiction at first, then it was sexual roleplay which developed into masturbation and actual sex before expanding into the lovely realm of BDSM. These things, along with the few close friends I have had throughout, are the only reasons I am still alive and writing this blog today. Without them as distractions and supports, I do not know where I would be now.

  24. I don’t think what I was taught was called DBT (at least it was never called that to me) but having done a quick search on it and the technique sounds very similar to what I was taught as a teen.

    Mostly I was taught what seem to be called “Mindfulness Techniques” and “Distress Tolerance”

    I was also taught meditation techniques and lots of breathing techniques which I use to this day to help control my anxiety. A lot of my coping mechanisms rely on me being aware of my triggers and catching it before it blows up into a full blown panic attack.

  25. Why can’t they make an anti-anxiety drug that has the opposite effect? Not only would you be not anxious, you’d explode with the big-O when someone gave you extra foam on your latte.

    That’s what science SHOULD be for!

  26. Sadly, your experience with Zoloft was better than mine. My doctor prescribed a combinaton of Zoloft and Wellbutrin. By the end of the first weekend, I hadn’t slept or eaten since Friday. Monday morning, my doctor called me and told me to cease taking it immediately. The weirdest part is that I have no recollection whatsoever of calling the doctor’s office or explaining these symptoms to him. To this day, I have no idea why he called me to tell me to stop taking it.

    My experience with Effexor was even worse. After a year of use, I reached the point where I literally could not leave the bed until I had to shit or eat. I was perfectly content with staring at a wall all days for MONTHS and did not realize how incredibly fucked up this was. Getting off that poison was the most painful experience of my life, and I’m saying that as someone who had three surgeries and spent a month in a hospital bed due to a severe injury. I’ll take take the injury again over antidepressants any day.

  27. I am thinking meds are just the devil. I didn’t an experience with anti-depressants but with birth control. I took the depo-shot that is implanted in your arm and it made me not only gain weight but it made my sex life disappear. I was miserable and so sad. I could barley get wet and the desire was completely lost. I finally gave it up and use condoms. It wasn’t worth it.

  28. Two weeks?! You were lucky!
    I was on my antidepressants 6 months, then read that the lack of libido would be non-reversable! I went cold turkey after reading that!
    I’m still not as horny as I used to be. They should tell that to people with depression before the tablets I think, I would have never taken them!

  29. So glad the drugs aren’t permanent! I’ve heard rumors about this kind of thing, but never a personal experience. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  30. Sniffle sniffle… I too fell under this spell. I soon awoke after “losing” my prescription… Wellbutrin seems to not make me lose ANYTHING.

  31. For months after I first started prozac, I had the exact same experience. I could almost never manage to orgasm, and sex was completely boring, which was very frustrating for the partner I just started seeing, as he was convinced it was his fault, even though I knew it wasn’t and told him repeatedly. Unfortunately, I really needed the meds, and had to stick it out. But miraculously, it just went away eventually! I’m actually on a higher dose now, and I haven’t had trouble with sexual pleasure in a long time.

  32. Yeah, I had a similar experience. Only not just with Zoloft. Also, with Prozac, and with Paxil and a couple of others. Oh, all my experiences were different. One made me feel great but never cum; one made me feel nothing, but cum instantly; one made me want nothing.

    I’m so much happier when not psychotropized.

  33. Pingback: e[lust] #41 « Lady Pandorah's Sanctuary
  34. Wow, I’m sorry 🙁 I guess I’m really lucky that I’ve never experienced any sexual dysfunction on Zoloft, even though I take an extremely high dose (200 mg). My libido is through the roof and I orgasm just as easily as I always have.

  35. I’ve never taken Zoloft, but I’ve been on multiple antidepressants for the better part of 8 years. I need them to function, and I accept that. I started taking them before I really got into anything sexual, and everything was fine… until about a year or two ago. Sex and masturbation are boring. Orgasm is a chore and I can actually THINK about things while I’m having one, including how weak they are. That shouldn’t happen. I’ve been on Wellbutrin for a couple years now, and exclusively Wellbutrin for about a year. I don’t think it is this drug that has caused it, especially since it is often used to treat this condition (post-SSRI sexual dysfunction). However, it is also a drug used for smoking cessation, and I started smoking while on it, so I’m honestly not sure how well it works for me in that area. However, it’s been a safe and effective antidepressant and I’m terrified to change my meds again. I’m not ashamed to say that the last major medication change led to me almost dying, and I’d much rather be safe and sexually dysfunctional than a completely dysfunctional- or dead- person. I do believe this condition was brought on by years of SSRI use, and I honestly don’t know what to do about it. It took years to show up, and treatment for this is relatively poor, so I don’t know exactly how to approach it. All I know is, it’s awful. I want sex and I want orgasms, but they’re just horribly unfulfilling. I am an absolute advocate of antidepressants, and I know there will never be a time when I am not on them. If you need them, you should take them, regardless of things like sexual side effects. But always be aware of the risks, and if you feel comfortable trying an alternative treatment, do it.

  36. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I agree, better to be sexually dysfunctional than dead. Just horrible that you have to make that choice.

  37. I’ve just started on Zoloft and I’m incredibly worried about this happening. The partner that I have had the most incredible sex in my life with is due to visit next week and I would be devastated if anything were to ruin that experience. For now I suppose I’ll cross my fingers and hope for the best, but if I experience the same the Zoloft will be tossed away faster than my rabbit gets me off!

  38. It is, especially since I’m only eighteen… The idea of living like this for the rest of my life is exceedingly depressing; it’s already become almost unbearable. I am actually going to see my primary doctor tomorrow, and I will be plucking up my courage and asking about possibly adding another medication to my regimen that could help with this instead of changing my actual antidepressant. So, wish me luck, I guess. Thank you so much for this post and this blog in general, it’s always a treat 😉

  39. I know this is an older blog entry but I just stumbled across your site (while googling “sex toy reviews”. No, really.) and I’m loving it. Just felt like I wanted to add something to the comments here. Though I probably won’t say anything that hasn’t been said already.

    I have been on meds the better part of my adult life. Not just ADs but two ADs, an antipyshotic, a dash of speed (I have an Rx, I swear), and the very occasional benzodiazepine. I need them to live. And they do fuck with my sex life. But I made the decision a long time ago that I needed to sacrifice my libido and orgasms in order to live a sane life and not hurt the people I love.

    All of the ADs that inhibit serotonin reuptake do the same thing to me. I can’t get off, easily. Pre-meds or off meds, I can have a orgasm almost by just thinking about having one. Now, it can be a chore to reach one.

    I’m shocked that your doctor told you it was a rare side effect. That’s bullshit and s/he knows it. True, not everyone who takes Zoloft, or any in the SSRI/SNRI class, will have sexual side effects but it sure as hell ain’t a rarity if you do.

    So, now I take Effexor (AD in the SNRI class) and that’s the one that kills my orgasms….monkeying with the damn serotonin and all. I am also on Wellbutrin which is often used as an add on med that can help reverse the sexual side effects brought on by other ADs.

    I can’t belive my husband has stuck by me all these years when I didn’t want sex and only forced myself to do so once a week because I felt horrible about it all. He’s a real good guy, that one.

    But what do ya know, very recently my libido has had an awakening. I feel like I want to have sex again. It’s fun. We’ve tried things we never did before and I’m thinking about sex a lot throughout the day. It’s been a complete 180 in a very short amount of time.

    One thing I can attribute it to is that I finally got brave and increased my Wellbutrin dose to the highest prescibed. And it’s like a light went on in my head and my vulva. We’ve also opened up about our sex life and all the problems we’ve been living with all these years. That has helped tremendously as well. So, I guess all this rambling could be summed up by simply saying, “YAY ME!”

    When I was depressed and batshit crazy, I didn’t want sex because I didn’t even want to live and on top of that shit, I took the crazy out on the people I love. Couldn’t do that anymore. So, I went from no libido due to depression right into still no libido…but now is it because I’m still struggling with depression on some level or, is it a side effect of these damn meds that I love to hate?

    The long winded point I’m trying to make is that sometimes, people lose their libido because of depression. If the meds can drag thier ass out of the pit and they start being happy again, the ibido can often return. I think that’s what has been going on with me. It takes a lot more work to get off but at least I want to again. The meds do truly suck and needing them sucks even more but life can get good again.

    I think that if you only had very mild anxiety and it wasn’t to a degree that was effecting your life in a really horrible way (like, I can’t walk out my front door cause the world scares the shit out of me) then you probably didn’t need meds anyway.

    I would suggest maybe a low dose benzodiazepine (like Xanax, Klonopin or Ativan) taken as needed. It’s sounds as though this wans’t a shrink who Rxed the Zoloft because you mention some cervix poking and that would be a really wierd thing to happen in a shrink’s office. That’s part of the problem. I don’t want to say that people shouldn’t see thier GP for depression or anxiety. If they for some reason can’t or don’t want to see a psychiatrist then by all means, don’t suffer go to your GP. But the shrinks are experts with these meds for a reason. They tend to know a lot more about them and they know how to mix the meds (when one just doesn’t quite cut it) to achieve the best results.

    So, in closing, I’d just like to say to you:

    If you have no history of addiction (do the sex toys count?) and the anxiety is really limiting how you live your life, then I suggest seeing a shrink…and not the kind that likes to talk about your feelings, though therapy is helpful. Go to an M.D. and thell them you have an aversion to Zoloft and that you don’t want to go on meds like it. They may go the benzo route.

  40. Thank you for sharing your experience! You’re right that expecting a GP to have all the information was probably a bad idea, especially since I didn’t know what I was doing. I really had no idea sexual side effects were so common; I guess because people don’t want to talk about it.

    I’m glad you are finding a way to work with the meds in a way that allows you to finally enjoy sex. I can’t imagine having to battle that every single day.

  41. Late comment, but it’s really sad how doctors dismiss this side effect as unimportant. I recently tried zoloft for a month or so, and while I was taking it I didn’t ever want to masturbate (not normal for me, as you may expect since I’m reading this blog). When I brought up this concern to my doctor the response I got was “I’m more concerned that you get to a place where you are feeling better, as long as there are no serious side effects I recommend you keep taking it”. What is feeling better? My mental health issues weren’t entirely incapacitating or dangerous to myself/others, so I stopped taking it. I don’t know whether it was a “nocebo” effect or real, but it wasn’t pleasant.

  42. I’m amazed (but not surprised) that your doctor didn’t consider sexual side effects as “serious”. At the very least, they should have offered you the option of switching to a different med that is less likely to cause sexual side effects.

  43. I was on Zoloft for almost a year (the second half of that interval was Zoloft and wellbutrin), and every meeting with my psychiatrist approximately went like “My lack of sex drive is making me more depressed and anxious.” “Well you don’t remember how bad it was before. Let’s keep you on those meds.”

    I really hated myself while that was going on because I felt like someone had scooped out a part of my brain, and pretty much part of my life. But apparently because these feelings were based on a lack of libido they didn’t matter at all. Frustrating.

    I since stopped taking those on my own, was put on Prozac a year later, quit that after a month, for similar reasons, and now I’m on meds that don’t make me feel like a part of me is missing.

  44. Ugh, I’m mad at your doctor! This whole phenomenon of dismissing sexual side effects seems really dangerous when the point of the meds is to combat depression. Sex is such a part of who each person is! I wonder if it is dismissed as easily for men, seeing as their sex drive is more culturally accepted as important. I say this assuming you are a woman but I suppose there is nothing in your post to indicate that.

  45. I was thinking very much the same thing about my own masturbation sessions. You’re not alone.

  46. When I went on Effexor, within 8hours of taking the first pill, I lost the ability to orgasm. It worked pretty well for my life-eating panic disorder and lifelong depression, but it ruined sex. Didn’t want it much, and when I did, I could. Not. Come.
    It took me six months of diligent practice, forcing myself to masturbate even when I didn’t really want to, to learn how to orgasm again. It was fucking terrifying. And it was never the same. Before, I could get off with anything. A few minutes of still clothed dry humping. The weakest vibrator in the world. Gentle water pressure. Anything. After, it took a long time, strong, sustained stimulation, and concentration, which still wanders. I only took Effexor for about a year, and have been off it for ten years now, but this effect has stayed with me (along with brain zaps, from the withdrawal period). Now I’m on other meds for health problems, which exacerbate the issue. I take Klonopin at night to quiet my thoughts so I can sleep, but I avoid antidepressants because they’ve all messed me up, badly, in one way or another. I credit 24 years of therapy with my marginal ability to function with Bipolar Type 2 and a grab bag of other mental illnesses. I wish I could try Wellbutrin, but it lowers the seizure threshold, and I already have a minor seizure disorder, so that option is off the table.
    So yes, that is real. The sexual dysfunction from ADs can last forever. But sometimes you can relearn some of the things they stole from you. Good luck out there.

  47. I’m really, really glad you posted this entry. I’m on meds for bipolar and have been for ten years (early on I was diagnosed with depression). We just added an SSRI (it’s a low dose, so it’s safe to treat OCD features) and it killed my sex drive. My vulva and vagina aren’t numb but I have NO desire to have sex or to masturbate and orgasms aren’t guaranteed.

    It’s very, very, very frustrating and it’s keeping me from dating. I’m trying to build a solo sex life for myself now despite the meds because sex is an important part of life and I used to have so fun. I’ve gotten sex books from a few publishers and I was just approved to become a Good Vibes sex toy reviewer so I’m doing what I can to fix my “sexual disfunction” without going off of my meds.

    The people here have been so brave for telling their stories. It meant a lot to hear that you experienced that too. I was feeling VERY down about this when I first started the SSRI but taking control of my sex life is making me feel a lot better about this; as is hearing your story and the comments below.

  48. I’m on Prozac for my anxiety, and I need it. Without a doubt. My anxiety made my college GPA plummet, negatively affected every relationship I’ve ever had, and had caused multiple fights between me and my mom, who believes in the Healing Power of Jesus rather than modern medicine. When I first went on it, I never really felt like masturbating, but I somehow powered through it. I don’t know what amazing miracle allowed me to surpass this side-effect, but I did. My vagina is such a champ, and I love it <3

  49. Aaaah, why did I not find this earlier?! It’s an old old post, but I must comment!
    I had a question from a former partner (male, born with cock) recently, “hey, since you went on [sertraline], have you had more trouble orgasming?”
    And I started thinking and thought, hang on, that might actually be the case… but I didn’t notice, because I’ve “always” had trouble with that, and sexual enjoyment. Except… first it was the contraceptive pills – I have NO doubts about this, they played holy hell with my mood and sex drive. Going off them, I realised how much better moods people have in general.
    A few years later, I finally agree to start taking Sertraline. But this was in connection with A SHITLOAD OF BAD STUFF happening in my life, so I didn’t connect the dots at all! Then that question comes and, oh, it’s those SSRI meds indeed. Lucky me, I’m meeting my doctor (and after yeeears, it’s finally a good one) and I’m taking this up with her. I do know I feel SO MUCH BETTER with those meds, but maybe I can cut down on them a little, because since I figured out sex can be enjoyable and so on, I’ve kind of liked it, and with my lovely Mona, well… I am perfectly certain it SHOULD be able to help me get off every time I use it, so the fact that it hasn’t (GASP!) also served as a warning bell.

    I am SO pointing a few select friends towards this post now…

  50. Wellbutrin has worked well for me!

    Hello all! A very late comment!

    I have previously tried anti depressants that work on the serotonin levels (Cipramil) – they were disastrous to me!

    Now I’m on wellbutrin that works on the dopamine levels, and I seem to be regaining the sex drive that I had in my late teens and twenties!

    I had just read this article, and yesterday I met with a very close friend and ex girlfriend. So I had an opportunity to ask about my previous sex drive and overall mood.

    And apparently wellbutrin has worked wonders with me!
    OK – I’ve been going to cognitive behavioural therapy as well, but I noticed the gain in my sex drive before that, after only a few weeks on wellbutrin!

    Of course everyone reacts differently to antidepressants – and apparently you can only find out by trying…

    Good luck, have fun, be horny and enjoy your libido!

    See all Y’all under the covers!

  51. I had shitty, shitty orgasms on Prozac. The kind of orgasms you have to get it over with. Oddly enough, though, after switching to Zoloft this side effect went away.
    Unfortunately, the Prozac helped with the anxiety, and so far the Zoloft is doing very little.

  52. Pingback: e[lust] #41 -
  53. this happened to me on seroquel and it was one of the most devastating things I’ve ever lived through. I went off for awhile and then back on and somehow that fixed it, but goddamn it was terrifying.

  54. They actually use antidepressants/mood stabilizers as a treatment for premature ejaculation, so.

  55. So I wanted to come back, years later, and leave a comment about what my experience with SSRIs and sexual changes was like. I was really, really hesitant to go on SSRIs, partially for exactly this reason. I’ve always been pretty sensitive and have a pretty high level of sexual response, and I didn’t want to lose that. However, weekly talk therapy plus two hours a week of group therapy for anxiety and coping skills weren’t helping, and I was starting to lose functioning in other parts of my life, like the getting-out-of-bed part and the not-crying-all-day part.

    One place where I think I was, ironically, lucky – the first time that I tried an antidepressant, a GP plunked me onto a full therapeutic dose, I had a bad reaction, and I got taken back off it immediately and referred to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist worked with me to titrate up from an extremely, extremely small dose of a different drug (I started on half of the smallest pill they make and increased by fractions) over the course of months, and we stopped at the lowest level on which my symptoms improved. This standard of care is really hard for a lot of people to access – it was during a brief window of amazing health insurance – and a lot of primary care physicians just prescribe a standard, pretty hefty therapeutic dose and then never check back. I’m not saying that that’s what causes *all* problems, but I think it causes a lot of unnecessary problems.

    As far as drive and sensation: well, the second my horrible depression and anxiety was treated I realized that I was super gay, so that was a fun surprise (unironically) and I’d say that my sex drive is actually better now than it was before since I’m not repressed and miserable. I do feel less spontaneous arousal (less of that “I guess it was a passing breeze” sort of horniness) but on the other hand I notice girls with cute butts now without hating myself which is worth a lot. I have a friend who had the same thing happen except they realized they were trans the second the antidepressants kicked in. I guess brace yourself!

    Sensation-wise: honestly I would say that the biggest thing I notice is that the erectile tissue of the clitoris just isn’t fully erectiling. Like, if I had a penis, I would be having trouble getting hard. This is something that I can work around, but I often notice that there isn’t full… is engorgement really the best word we have for this? Okay, engorgement – until after an orgasm. As far as orgasms, I’m lucky in that they’re possible, but they definitely require exactly the right amount of clitoral pressure plus g-spot stimulation to achieve, which didn’t used to be the case. The most annoying thing about SSRI sex for me is that I can only have an orgasm in one position, so every sex act in which orgasm is a goal for me has to end in about the same way. It’s not a tragedy, but it’s a little frustrating.

    I definitely know that I’m really really lucky that there was a medication that worked that didn’t completely kill my sex drive. And I’m definitely not trying to naysay anyone who’s had a wretched experience with antidepressants and sexual changes. (I have a friend who refers to Effexor as “the nunmaker” because her experience was so bad.) That said, I’m much more capable of having a stable non-miserable social life, doing the dating thing, and having the kinds of relationships I want to have now that my mood problems are effectively treated, and I honestly wish I could email Past Me and tell her not to wait so long to try medication. (And that she’ll feel better once she realizes she’s very very gay). I just wanted to add a positive story, in case someone else is in Past Me’s boat.

  56. Fuuuck, you just described my current masturbation experience and I’ve never been on antidepressants. I can’t imagine what would happen to me if I started Zoloft, something that I’ve considered a lot. Yikes.

  57. Seriously though, I didn’t know that’s not how most people experience masturbation. It’s like there’s a whole ‘nother level of awesome I’ve been missing out on.

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