MEDLINE Abstracts: Antidepressant-Induced Sexual Dysfunction

June 07, 2002

MEDLINE Abstracts: Antidepressant-Induced Sexual Dysfunction

Find out more about antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in this easy-to-navigate collection of recent MEDLINE abstracts compiled by the editors at Medscape.

Rothschild AJ
Clin Ther. 2000;22 Suppl A:A42-57; discussion A58-61

Objective: This article reviews options in the treatment of antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction (SD).
Background: With adoption of structured interviews concerning sexual function, researchers have become increasingly aware that a substantial proportion of patients experience untoward sexual side effects from their antidepressants. As many as half of patients treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors report delayed orgasm (ejaculation), and virtually all patients treated with clomipramine experience anorgasmia. Treatments proven to be effective include yohimbine, sildenafil citrate, buspirone, or other adjuncts, or a temporary drug holiday. SD is most effectively diagnosed and treated in the setting of an empathic physician-patient relationship, which includes frank discussions about sexuality.
Conclusions: Although depressed patients do care about their sexual function, they may be reluctant, for fear of embarrassment, to report SD spontaneously to their physicians. SD is probably underreported and may result in covert noncompliance and attendant relapse into depression. Physicians thus need to assess sexual function during initial evaluation and throughout treatment. The importance of sexual function to sexually active patients with major depression should be weighed carefully when planning antidepressant therapy. A number of viable options exist to prevent or treat SD, including use of relatively new or novel antidepressants and appropriate adjunctive regimens.

Kennedy SH, Dickens SE, Eisfeld BS, Bagby RM
J Affect Disord. 1999 Dec;56(2-3):201-8

Background: Decreased sexual interest and function both occur as a consequence of antidepressant medication use, and are especially associated with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs). However, few investigators have reported the base rate for disturbances in sexual desire, arousal and orgasm or ejaculation in patients with major depression (MD) prior to antidepressant treatment. The purpose of this report is to define the frequency of sexual dysfunction (SD) in 134 patients with MD and examine the relationship between SD and demographic, clinical and personality variables.
Method: A consecutive series of 55 male and 79 female MD patients diagnosed by SCID-DSM IV assessment completed a series of psychometric measures including a Sexual Function Questionnaire, which asked about change in sexual interest and function as well as sexual activity during the preceding month.
Results: Only 50% of women and 75% of men reported sexual activity during the preceding month. Over 40% of men and 50% of women reported decreased sexual interest. Reduced levels of arousal were more common in both men and women (40-50%) than ejaculatory or orgasm difficulties (15-20%). In women, problems with arousal and orgasm correlated with higher neuroticism and lower extraversion. There was no relationship between SD and personality measures in men. While age at onset of depression and number of prior episodes showed a modest correlation with SD measures, there were no correlations with severity of depression or specific symptoms clusters.
Limitations and Conclusions: Although limited by a relatively small sample of drug free patients with MD, and by the absence of a non-depressed comparison sample, these results emphasize the importance of factors beyond specific drug effects in the assessment of antidepressant related sexual dysfunction.

Medina P, Segarra G, Ballester R, et al
Urology. 2000 Apr;55(4):592-7

Objectives: To evaluate the effects of sertraline, fluoxetine, and amitriptyline on the contractile responses of the human vas deferens muscle elicited by norepinephrine, electrical field stimulation, and KCl, because the therapeutic action of antidepressants may be accompanied by sexual dysfunction related to the contractility of the vas deferens smooth muscle.
Methods: Ring segments of the epididymal part of the vas deferens were taken from 32 elective vasectomies and mounted in organ baths for isometric recording of tension. We then studied the effects of sertraline, fluoxetine, and amitriptyline on the neurogenic and agonist-induced contractile responses.
Results: Amitriptyline caused concentration-dependent inhibition of neurogenic and norepinephrine-induced contractions. In contrast, only the highest concentration (10(-5) M) of sertraline and fluoxetine reduced the adrenergic contractions. The dihydropyridine calcium antagonist nifedipine (10(-6) M) completely prevented the inhibitory effect of sertraline and fluoxetine on neurogenic and norepinephrine-induced contractions but did not change the inhibition caused by amitriptyline. Sertraline, fluoxetine, and amitriptyline (all at 10(-5) M) attenuated contractions elicited by KCl and reduced contractions induced by CaCl(2) in KCl-depolarized preparations.
Conclusions: The results indicate that sertraline and fluoxetine inhibit vas deferens motility through inhibition of Ca(2+) entry, with no effect on the adrenergic receptors, and amitriptyline acts as an adrenoceptor antagonist and inhibitor of the entry of calcium.

Nurnberg HG, Hensley PL, Lauriello J, Parker LM, Keith SJ
Psychiatr Serv. 1999 Aug;50(8):1076-8

In an open study, sildenafil (Viagra) was prescribed for nine women outpatients who reported sexual dysfunction induced by antidepressant medication, primarily selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. A 50 mg dose of sildenafil was prescribed, and patients were instructed to take it approximately one hour before sexual activity. They were told to increase the dose to 100 mg on the next occasion if they experienced a partial response or a lack of response to sildenafil. The nine patients, all of whom had experienced either anorgasmia or delayed orgasm with or without associated disturbances, reported significant reversal of sexual dysfunction, usually with the first dose of 50 mg of sildenafil.

Salerian AJ, Deibler WE, Vittone BJ, et al
J Sex Marital Ther. 2000 Apr-Jun;26(2):133-40

Ninety-two outpatients (31 women, 61 men) who were treated with oral sildenafil for psychotropic-induced sexual dysfunction (PISD) completed ratings of their sexual functioning pre- and posttreatment. Both women and men reported significant improvements (p = .001) in all domains of sexual functioning, with 88% reporting improvement in overall sexual satisfaction. Significant improvements were reported regardless of psychotropic medication type. However, patients taking selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors reported less improvement in arousal, libido, and overall sexual satisfaction than did other patients, whereas patients taking benzodiazepines reported significantly more improvement in libido and overall sexual satisfaction. Oral sildenafil may be an effective treatment for PISD.

Michelson D, Bancroft J, Targum S, Kim Y, Tepner R
Am J Psychiatry. 2000 Feb;157(2):239-43

Objective: Few controlled trials of pharmacologic intervention in women with antidepressant-associated sexual dysfunction have been reported, and there is uncertainty about the usefulness of putative treatments and the assessment methodologies. The authors evaluated the efficacy of buspirone and amantadine in the treatment of sexual dysfunction associated with fluoxetine administration.
Method: Women who had been successfully treated with fluoxetine for at least 8 weeks and who had reported a deterioration in sexual function not present before the initiation of fluoxetine entered a 4-week assessment period. After assessment they were randomly assigned to an 8-week treatment trial with buspirone (N=19), amantadine (N=18), or placebo (N=20). Outcomes were assessed by using a patient-rated daily diary and a clinician-rated structured interview.
Results: While the amantadine-treated women did report significantly greater improvements in energy levels than women in the placebo group, all treatment groups experienced improvement in overall sexual function as well as in most individual measures. There were no statistically significant differences among the three groups.
Conclusions: Neither buspirone nor amantadine was more effective than placebo in ameliorating antidepressant-associated sexual dysfunction. All groups experienced marked nonspecific improvement during treatment, which suggests the importance of placebo-controlled trials for this condition.

Gelenberg AJ, Laukes C, McGahuey C, et al
J Clin Psychiatry. 2000 May;61(5):356-60

Background: Sexual side effects are a common and bothersome reaction to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), frequently leading to cessation of treatment. Mirtazapine, an alpha2-adrenoceptor and serotonin-2/3 receptor antagonist, appears to cause few sexual problems.
Method: Nineteen patients (12 women and 7 men), with SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction who were in remission from major depressive disorder (total Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression [HAM-D] score < or = 10), were switched to open-label mirtazapine for up to 6 weeks. Mirtazapine was titrated from 7.5 mg to 45 mg daily, as tolerated. Sexual functioning was measured weekly with the Arizona Sexual Experiences Scale (ASEX), and depression was measured weekly with the HAM-D.
Results: Eleven patients (58%) had a return of normal sexual functioning (mean +/- SD ASEX score = 12+/-3), and another 2 (11%) reported significant improvement in sexual functioning (mean ASEX score reduced from 24+/-1 to 20+/-0). All nineteen patients maintained their antidepressant response (HAM-D score after 6 weeks of mirtazapine = 6+/-3). The most commonly reported side effects (using moderate/severe rating on a symptom checklist) were initial sedation (N = 3), irritability (N = 6), and muscle soreness and stiffness (N = 3). Weight gain of 10 to 20 lb (4.5-9 kg) was seen in 3 patients (2 women and 1 man).
Conclusion: Mirtazapine is an effective antidepressant for many patients experiencing SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction.

Kennedy SH, Eisfeld BS, Dickens SE, Bacchiochi JR, Bagby RM
J Clin Psychiatry. 2000 Apr;61(4):276-81

Background: Recent reports suggest that adverse effects on sexual function occur in up to 50% of patients who are treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants. Previously cited low rates were more likely a function of underreporting than underoccurrence. There is less evidence about rates of dysfunction with serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) and reversible inhibitor of monoamine oxidase A (RIMA) antidepressants. The purpose of this report is to evaluate disturbances in sexual drive/desire and arousal/orgasm in 107 patients who met criteria for major depressive disorder and received treatment with either moclobemide, paroxetine, sertraline, or venlafaxine.
Method: All consenting eligible patients who met DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder completed the Sexual Functioning Questionnaire, version 1 (SFQ) and were assessed using the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) prior to and after 8 or 14 weeks of antidepressant therapy. Analyses were carried out to examine the effect of gender, drug type, pretreatment level of sexual dysfunction, and drug response on reported sexual dysfunction.
Results: Compared with women, men experienced a significantly greater level of drug-related impairment in drive/desire (p < .05), whereas there were no statistically significant differences in levels of arousal/orgasm impairment between men and women. The reported impairment in drive/desire items for men ranged from 38% to 50% and from 26% to 32% for women. No differences were found across the 4 antidepressants in men, whereas in women, rates of dysfunction were generally higher with sertraline and paroxetine, but only significantly so in comparison with moclobemide on some measures (p < .03). Rates of sexual dysfunction with venlafaxine tended to fall between those of SSRIs and the RIMA agent. An unexpected relationship was found between favorable drug response and a decreased level of drug-induced sexual dysfunction.
Conclusion: Antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction occurs in approximately 30% to 70% of patients who are treated with sertraline or paroxetine. Lower rates are reported with moclobemide and venlafaxine. Clinicians should evaluate the various aspects of sexual dysfunction before and during antidepressant therapy.

Segraves RT, Kavoussi R, Hughes AR, et al
J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2000 Apr;20(2):122-8

Sexual dysfunction is a frequently reported side effect of many antidepressants, including serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Bupropion, an antidepressant of the aminoketone class, is relatively free of adverse sexual effects. In a randomized, double-blind, multicenter trial, sustained-release bupropion (bupropion SR) and sertraline, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, were found to be similarly efficacious in the treatment of outpatients with moderate to severe depression. This report describes the results of a double-blind comparison of the sexual side effect profiles of bupropion SR and sertraline. Two hundred forty-eight patients who had received a diagnosis of moderate to severe major depression were randomly assigned to receive treatment with bupropion SR (100-300 mg/day) or sertraline (50-200 mg/day) for 16 weeks. Eligible patients were required to be in a stable relationship and to have normal sexual functioning. Sexual functioning was assessed by the investigator at each clinic visit using investigator-rated structured interviews. A significantly greater percentage of sertraline-treated patients (63% and 41% of men and women, respectively) developed sexual dysfunction compared with bupropion SR-treated patients (15% and 7%, respectively). Sexual dysfunction was noted as early as day 7 in sertraline-treated patients at a dose of 50 mg/day and persisted until the end of the 16-week treatment phase. Four patients, all of whom were treated with sertraline, discontinued from the study prematurely because of sexual dysfunction. Given the similar efficacy of the two drugs in treating depression, bupropion SR may be a more appropriate antidepressant choice than sertraline in patients for whom sexual dysfunction is a concern.


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