PSSD (Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction)

Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD) is a significant medical concern that arises following the intake of SSRI (selective serotonin uptake inhibitor) or SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) medications. These drugs, commonly prescribed to address various conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more, can lead to lingering sexual side effects even after discontinued medication.

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It’s crucial to understand that PSSD does not discriminate based on age, gender, or ethnicity. Regardless of their background, men and women can experience this distressing condition, and the symptoms can be physically and mentally challenging.

Since its first reporting in 1991 and subsequent formal definition as a syndrome in 2006, PSSD has unfortunately remained “under-recognized.” This lack of widespread acknowledgment serves the interests of pharmaceutical companies but leaves countless individuals grappling with unaddressed symptoms.

The term “Post-SSRI” is utilized primarily because these sexual dysfunctions emerge post-discontinuation of the medication. Throughout this article, we are dedicated to shedding light on the experiences of both men and women affected by PSSD, ensuring a comprehensive understanding and representation of all those impacted by this condition.

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PSSD (Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction)

Drugs Known to Cause PSSD

Almost everyone who uses SSRIs will develop some sexual side effects.

The SSRIs which have been reported to induce PSSD include:

  • fluoxetine (Prozac Weekly, Sarafem, and Prozac)
  • paroxetine (Pexeva, Paxil CR, Paxil)
  • venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
  • escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • sertraline (e.g., Zoloft)
  • citalopram (Celexa)
  • fluvoxamine

Other drugs which increase serotonin levels have been associated with similar sexual side effects, including tricyclic antidepressants such as

  • doxepin (Silenor, Prudoxin, and Zonalon)
  • clomipramine (Anafranil)
  • imipramine (Tofranil)
  • amitriptyline

Understanding Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD) Symptoms

PSSD symptoms can manifest within days of consuming SSRIs and may continue even after stopping the medication. Astonishingly, cases have been reported where genital anesthesia developed within 30 minutes of a single dose.

Common Symptoms (Experienced by Both Genders)

  • Genital Numbness/Anesthesia: A marked decrease in sensation in the genital area.
  • Decreased Libido: A reduced interest in sexual activity.
  • Anorgasmia: The failure to become aroused, reach an orgasm, or experience pleasure-less or weak orgasms.
  • Emotional Numbing: A general dampening of emotional reactivity.
  • Restless Genital Syndrome: Excessive and persistent sensations of genital and clitoral arousal without the conscious feeling of sexual desire.
  • Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder: This disorder involves persistent genital arousal lasting for hours or days after sexual stimulation, despite having experienced at least one orgasm.

Gender-specific Symptoms

For Men

  • Erectile Dysfunction: Difficulty in achieving or maintaining an erection.
  • Premature/Delayed Ejaculation: Ejaculating too quickly or having difficulty ejaculating.
  • Decreased Penile Size: A noticeable reduction in the size of the penis.
  • Reduced Seminal Volume: Producing a smaller amount of semen during ejaculation.
  • Testicular Issues: Experiencing testicular atrophy, pain, or both.

For Women

  • Vaginal Issues: Facing reduced vaginal lubrication, leading to discomfort during sexual activity.
  • Menstrual Irregularities: Changes in menstrual cycles or irregular periods.
  • Decreased Genital Sensation: Diminished sensation or pleasure during sexual activities.
  • Nipple Insensitivity: Reduced sensation in the nipples.

PSSD can affect individuals differently, and the severity and combination of symptoms can vary from person to person.

This list of symptoms makes it clear why this condition causes so much distress and severely negatively affects people’s emotional well-being.

PSSD has been classified into two categories based on symptom onset:

  1. Early onset – the sexual dysfunction began during SSRI use and persisted after it was discontinued.
  2. PSSD occurs only after discontinuation of the drug.

How Does PSSD Happen?

PSSD is an iatrogenic condition. In other words, doctors cause it!

The problem with modern medicine is that while it’s great for treating acute conditions, such as broken bones, infections, and heart attacks, for chronic diseases, such as depression, they may sometimes do more harm than good.

This is exactly the problem with antidepressant medications, such as SSRIs.

Antidepressant medications are so ineffective that they take at least 2 weeks to ingest daily to exert any effects, which means they are useless for an acute attack of severe depression and suicidality, for instance.

In addition, they may induce a wide array of side effects, including sexual dysfunction, which may become permanent or last for a very long time if left untreated.

PSSD usually begins after a few doses of antidepressant drugs but may sometimes become apparent only after years of exposure, persisting for decades afterward.

Why Does PSSD Happen?

Scientists do not yet understand this condition. However, they believe that genital numbing may be related to the action of antidepressant drugs on sodium channels in the membranes of our cells.

While this action is useful for treating neuropathic pain, it is less helpful for our sex drive.

Other theories which attempt to explain why PSSD happens include the following:

  • downregulation of the serotonin 1A receptor (5-HT1A receptor)
  • proopiomelanocortin and melanocortin effects
  • hormonal changes in the nervous system
  • epigenetic gene expression theory
  • dopamine-serotonin interactions
  • serotonin neurotoxicity
  • cytochrome actions

For example, according to the Epigenetic Change and Receptor Downregulation Theory, drugs can change our genes, reducing the number of specific serotonin receptors and suppressing cellular response to serotonin. Your serotonin receptors become less responsive to the neurotransmitter.

On the other hand, hormonal theories blame different hormones, which may cause various neurochemical changes, including persistent sexual dysfunction.

Do SSRIs cause permanent changes, or does PSSD go away?

You might wonder how long after stopping antidepressants, you will feel normal again.

No one knows, but PSSD is NOT always permanent. Each person is different. Different people may return to baseline after a few days, weeks, months, years, or never.

However, because some people report spontaneously recovering from the condition with time while others experience brief remissions which can last days, it is generally believed that PSSD does NOT result from permanent damage.

Treating PSSD – How do you treat post-SSRI sexual dysfunction?

PSSD Diagnosis

Firstly, there’s the challenge of diagnosing the condition, which is done based on the symptoms; there’s no blood test or clear reproductive diagnostic criteria.

Each person impacted by the condition may have different symptoms in severity and duration.

The challenge is especially great since the lack of sexual drive/desire and low libido could be a symptom of the mental illness for which the drug was initially prescribed. Indeed, decreased sexual arousal is reported by up to 50% of depressive patients.

Also, many doctors are unaware of this condition. There’s not even a Healthline / WebMD article about it (!) They do, however, have pages about sexual dysfunction WHILE taking SSRIs.

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Your doctor must exclude all other possible causes of sexual dysfunction, such as urological infections or cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hormonal imbalances, etc.

A proper PSSD diagnosis should involve a review of drug history, the onset of symptoms, and the patient’s sexual condition before starting such a medication.

It is also important not to confuse the condition with a related post-finasteride syndrome. It occurs in men taking urinary retention medications (5-α reductase inhibitor drugs), such as finasteride (Propecia, Propecia Pro-Pak, Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart), and is also characterized by sexual dysfunction.

Isotretinoin (Absorica, Zenatane, Myorisan, Claravis, and Amnesteem), used to treat severe acne, is another drug that can cause anejaculation and decreased fertility.

PSSD Treatment

Even if the condition is diagnosed, there are unfortunately no effective treatments at the time of writing this article.

Low-power laser irradiation and phototherapy (directed toward the scrotal skin and the shaft of the penis) have shown promising results (improved penile sensitivity with no relief of anejaculation and erectile dysfunction). However, there’s still no definitive treatment for PSSD.

Drugs that have been tested for PSSD include:

  • 5HT1 agonists (buspirone)
  • a 5HT1A antagonist – 70% improvement in penile erection that had been impaired by fluoxetine use (study on rats)
  • 5HT2 and 5HT3 antagonists (trazodone and mirtazapine) – can induce a prolonged erection of the penis and increase libido in normal people but has little to no effect in patients with PSSD.
  • dopamine agonists (pramipexole and cabergoline) – little benefit reported
  • a dopaminergic antidepressant (amineptine) – only 4% of patients who had switched to amineptine suffered from sexual dysfunction after 6 months compared to more than 50% of those who remained with SSRIs
  • sildenafil, vardenafil, and other phosphodiesterase type-5 inhibitors and testosterone – no improvement
  • donepezil (Aricept)
  • ketamine
  • metformin (Glucophage, Riomet, Glumetza)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, often involving the patients’ partners, also has been used for PSSD. It is especially beneficial for dealing with negative thoughts (e.g., sexual inadequacy and low self-esteem), which often develop in PSSD sufferers, providing emotional and psychological support for patients and their partners.

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Are there any natural remedies to try for PSSD?

Saffron was anecdotally reported to improve the sexual side effects of SSRIs (including improving sexual arousal and lubrication).

I would also suggest looking into Yohimbine, which seems to work for some people.

There are additional herbal remedies (e.g., Turnera diffusa, Ginkgo biloba, and Panax ginseng), but I need more information regarding your personal circumstances to recommend them.

To recommend a herbal formula for PSSD, I would have to consider each patient’s idiosyncratic symptoms.

Here are a couple of additional tips:

  1. If you are in a country that allows it, cannabis (THC) is one of the most potent aphrodisiacs.
  2. If you are overweight, this could be aggravating your problem. Make sure to reach a normal weight.

Prevention of PSSD

Reducing the dose of SSRIs is not known to prevent PSSD.

Switching to bupropion (Wellbutrin XL, Wellbutrin SR, Forfivo XL) or nefazodone may prevent PSSD. These are antidepressants that are not known to cause any adverse sexual effects.

Adding bupropion as an adjunct therapy may be beneficial in treating SSRI-related sexual dysfunction, improving desire and frequency of sexual activity.

A side note: My intuition tells me that any damage serotonergic drugs do may be reversed with the serotonin balancer of nature: Psilocybin mushrooms. And microdosing magic mushrooms for depression instead of taking pharmaceuticals may prevent this disorder. Unfortunately, they are illegal in most of the US and the world, so it would be pretty difficult to get some of this medicine without traveling to special resorts or to cities in the US where they are decriminalized.

2022 Study – Cutting the First Turf to Heal Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction: A Male Retrospective Cohort Study

A 2022 article published on Medicines discusses the management of sexual dysfunction associated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

The authors explore different therapeutic options for managing SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction (SD), including:

  1. Switching to other antidepressant medications: For example, bupropion and mirtazapine, which have a lower risk of sexual side effects, or vortioxetine, which seems to have a beneficial effect on the emotional blunting often associated with depression and can be effective in patients who didn’t respond well to initial SSRI treatment.
  2. Adjunctive therapies: Certain medications can be added to the treatment plan to manage sexual side effects, such as PDE5 inhibitors (like sildenafil, used in treating erectile dysfunction) and psychostimulants.
  3. Nutraceuticals: These are foods or food products that provide health and medical benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease. Several ingredients commonly used in aphrodisiacs have been shown to have potential benefits in treating erectile dysfunction.
  4. Physical and psychological interventions: Techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and muscle vibration might sometimes be beneficial.

Nutraceuticals

Several nutraceuticals are mentioned that could potentially help alleviate sexual dysfunction, including:

  1. Curcumin (Turmeric): It’s suggested to have potential benefits in managing Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), which could indirectly influence sexual dysfunction if it’s related to depressive symptoms. Add a quarter teaspoon of turmeric per day to your diet, along with a pinch of black pepper.
  2. Korean Ginseng Berry Extract (GB0710): It is proposed to affect penile erection based on in vitro and in vivo studies.
  3. L-Arginine: It has been studied as a first-line treatment for erectile dysfunction. This protein is high in turkey, chicken, pork loin, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, peanuts, spirulina, and dairy products.
  4. Longjack (Eurycoma longifolia): A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials suggest it might improve erectile function.
  5. Tribulus terrestris: It’s used in supplements by athletes and could potentially benefit sexual function.
  6. Yohimbine, Maca, Horny Goat Weed, and Ginkgo biloba are ingredients in sexual enhancement products sold online, but the article doesn’t provide specific evidence of their effects on sexual dysfunction.
  7. Turnera diffusa and Pfaffia paniculata: These extracts have shown stimulating properties on the sexual behavior of male rats in studies.

The Dream Merchant’s Herbal Formula for PSSD

Based on the study’s recommendations, I have developed a herbal formula that can be used to improve sexual function, particularly in the context of Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD). It contains herbs such as:

  • Tribulus terrestris – As per the study, it is used in sports supplements and has been traditionally used to enhance sexual function.
  • Panax ginseng – Korean Ginseng was highlighted in the study for its potential effects on penile erection.
  • Turnera diffusa (Damiana) – This herb has been associated with improved sexual behavior in animal studies.
  • Ginkgo biloba – Known for its effects on cognition, it is also noted in the study for its potential psychoactive effects that may enhance sexual function.
  • Epimedium (Horny Goat Weed) – This herb is mentioned in the study as a common ingredient in aphrodisiacs.

These herbs’ precise ratios and dosages can vary based on individual factors such as age, overall health, and specific symptoms. Contact me for more information and pricing.

Herbal Remedies for PSSD: A Gendered Perspective

Herbal remedies have been utilized for centuries in various cultures to address many health issues. Regarding Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD), both men and women might benefit from natural solutions. Let’s explore some herbal interventions and how they might cater differently to males and females:

Maca Root

  • Overall: Recognized for its potential to boost libido and improve sexual function[^28^].
  • For Women: In a study by Dording et al., maca root was found to treat antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women potentially.
  • For Men: Maca might also improve sperm production and male libido, although direct links to PSSD in men need more research.

Saffron

  • Overall: Saffron has exhibited properties that can improve sexual dysfunction in some cases.
  • For Women: Research by Kashani and the team suggests that saffron may effectively treat fluoxetine-induced sexual dysfunction in women.
  • For Men: There’s preliminary evidence that saffron might improve erectile function, but more rigorous studies are required to confirm its efficacy in PSSD.

Tribulus terrestris

  • Overall: Often touted for boosting testosterone levels and improving sexual function.
  • For Women: While not directly linked with PSSD, some women use it to enhance libido and reduce menopausal symptoms.
  • For Men: Tribulus might assist with erectile function, and some studies hint at improved sperm quality.

Ginkgo biloba

  • Overall: Known for improving blood flow, which can aid sexual function.
  • For Women: There’s some evidence that Ginkgo might alleviate antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in females.
  • For Men: Ginkgo can help blood flow to the penis, potentially aiding erectile function. Its efficacy for PSSD in men remains under-researched.

Rosa × damascena

  • For Women: Rosa × damascena may have a mild positive effect on SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction in female patients. There’s no significant research currently on its effect on men with PSSD.

Considerations Specific to Females

  • Hormonal Interaction: Herbal remedies can sometimes interact with female hormonal levels. It’s essential for women, especially those on birth control or hormone therapies, to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any herbal treatment.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Some herbs might be unsafe during pregnancy or lactation. Always consult with a healthcare provider in these situations.
  • Menstrual Cycle: Some herbs can influence menstrual cycles. Monitoring for cycle regularity or intensity changes is crucial when starting a new herbal remedy.

Women and PSSD

Women diagnosed with Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD) face unique challenges, some of which are:

  1. Social Stigma and Taboos: While discussions around male sexual health have started to gain traction in recent years, female sexuality still remains cloaked in stigma in many societies. As a result, women might feel ashamed or embarrassed to discuss PSSD, fearing judgment or misunderstanding.
  2. Lack of Research and Recognition: Historically, medical research has often prioritized male subjects, leading to a lack of data and understanding about female-specific health issues. Consequently, the symptoms and experiences of women with PSSD may be underrepresented in scientific literature, leading to potential misdiagnoses or oversight.
  3. Misinterpretation of Symptoms: Because some of the symptoms of PSSD in women (like reduced vaginal lubrication or diminished genital sensation) can also be attributed to other conditions (like menopause or hormonal imbalances), there’s a risk of misdiagnosis. Women might be told they are experiencing “natural” changes when, in fact, they’re dealing with PSSD.
  4. Emotional and Psychological Impacts: The connection between sexuality and self-worth or identity can be profound for many women. PSSD might lead to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and depression. These emotional consequences can further exacerbate the physical symptoms of the condition.
  5. Relationship Challenges: In many cultures, women face pressure to satisfy their partners sexually. PSSD can lead to feelings of guilt or inadequacy in a relationship. Moreover, discussing the condition with a partner might be challenging due to societal norms surrounding female sexuality.
  6. Reproductive Concerns: For women wishing to conceive, PSSD can pose challenges. Diminished libido and vaginal lubrication issues can make sexual intercourse less frequent and more difficult, potentially affecting fertility.
  7. Overlap with Other Conditions: Some symptoms of PSSD, like irregular menstruation, can overlap with other conditions or life stages, making it challenging to discern the root cause. This can delay appropriate treatment and support.

Societal Pressures and PSSD in Women

Women’s sexuality has historically been subject to scrutiny, judgment, and misunderstanding. Societal expectations and gender norms often dictate how a woman should feel, express, or suppress her sexual desires and experiences. For women diagnosed with PSSD, these pressures can add complexity and distress.

  1. Expectations of Female Sexuality: The expectation that women should prioritize their partner’s sexual satisfaction over their own can make the symptoms of PSSD all the more distressing. A diminished libido or inability to reach orgasm can lead to feelings of inadequacy or fear of being seen as “less of a woman.”
  2. Silence and Shame: Even in our modern era, open discussions about female sexual health are often avoided, seen as taboo, or met with discomfort. This societal silence can leave women feeling isolated and ashamed, making it challenging to seek help or share their experiences.

The Risk of Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnosing PSSD can have significant ramifications. The symptoms women experience might be wrongfully attributed to psychological factors, hormonal imbalances, or life stages like menopause, leading to inadequate treatment and prolonged distress.

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  1. Psychological Misattribution: A long-standing, albeit outdated, perspective in the medical community has often labeled female sexual dysfunctions as “all in the head.” While psychological factors can influence sexual health, automatically attributing PSSD symptoms to psychological distress overlooks the physiological impact of SSRIs and denies women appropriate care.
  2. Minimization of Symptoms: Some doctors, influenced by gender biases or lack of knowledge, might dismiss or minimize the symptoms women describe. Comments like “It’s just a phase” or “You’re just stressed” can leave women feeling unheard and invalidated.
  3. Overlapping Symptoms: The overlap of PSSD symptoms with other conditions can lead to misdiagnoses. For instance, reduced vaginal lubrication or diminished libido might be attributed to menopause or other hormonal changes rather than the after-effects of SSRI use.

Doctors Minimizing Symptoms

The dismissal or diminishment of women’s health concerns isn’t unique to PSSD; it’s a larger issue in medical practice. Such attitudes can arise from the following:

  1. Historical Bias: Medical research and practice have historically been male-centric. Symptoms or conditions unique to or more prevalent in women have sometimes been under-researched or misunderstood.
  2. Perceived Exaggeration: A pervasive stereotype suggests women are more “emotional” and might “exaggerate” their symptoms. This can lead to health professionals downplaying the severity of a woman’s experience.
  3. Lack of Awareness: While awareness about PSSD is increasing, not all healthcare professionals are well-informed about its nuances, especially in women. This lack of knowledge can result in inadvertent minimization.

To ensure women with PSSD receive the care and understanding they deserve, there’s a need for continuous education, open dialogue, and an empathetic approach in medical and societal settings. Listening to and validating women’s experiences and ongoing research into female-specific health concerns can pave the way for better diagnosis, treatment, and overall well-being.

Research Highlight: Female Experiences with Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD)

Research on Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD) has increasingly started to recognize and evaluate the unique experiences of women. Here’s a glance into some significant studies focusing on female experiences with PSSD:

  1. Clayton et al. (2015) conducted research on the effects of vortioxetine vs. escitalopram on sexual functioning in women with well-treated major depressive disorder who experienced SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. Their findings contribute substantially to our understanding of how different antidepressants can uniquely influence sexual functioning in females.
  2. Dording et al. (2015) undertook a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigating the potential of maca root as a treatment for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in women. Their results open a doorway to exploring natural treatment alternatives.
  3. Kashani et al. (2013) carried out a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects of saffron in treating fluoxetine-induced sexual dysfunction in women. This research not only pinpoints specific antidepressants but also evaluates potential herbal remedies for the side effects experienced by women.
  4. Farnia et al. (2015) researched the potential benefits of Rosa damascena as an adjuvant treatment and its effects on SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction in female patients. Their work introduces novel plant-based interventions to the conversation on managing PSSD in women.
  5. Lorenz and Meston (2014) found that exercise can improve sexual function in women taking antidepressants. This study is an evidence-based recommendation for holistic approaches to treating PSSD.
  6. Nurnberg et al. (2008) conducted a randomized controlled trial that evaluated the impact of Sildenafil treatment on women with antidepressant-associated sexual dysfunction. This adds another layer to our understanding of how existing treatments for sexual dysfunction can be repurposed for women experiencing PSSD.
  7. A study by Taylor et al. (2013) focused on strategies for managing sexual dysfunction induced by antidepressant medication, providing a comprehensive overview of the therapeutic landscape and potential solutions.

These studies form the bedrock of our current understanding of women’s experiences with PSSD. They underscore the importance of gender-specific research and showcase the scientific community’s commitment to addressing and ameliorating the challenges faced by women undergoing SSRI treatments.

Treating Women with PSSD

Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD) affects both men and women, but it’s crucial to recognize that women may experience and respond to treatments differently. Several treatments have shown varying levels of effectiveness for female-specific symptoms:

  1. Exercise: According to Lorenz and Meston’s research, exercise can significantly improve sexual function in women on antidepressants. This approach offers a holistic solution that addresses PSSD and promotes overall well-being.
  2. Sildenafil: While traditionally associated with male erectile dysfunction, a study by Nurnberg et al. showed that Sildenafil might also effectively treat women with antidepressant-associated sexual dysfunction.
  3. Testosterone: A study by Fooladi and colleagues revealed that testosterone could counteract libido loss in women caused by antidepressants. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial indicates that testosterone may be a promising avenue for treating PSSD in females.
  4. Bupropion: An interesting alternative is using bupropion, both as a standalone treatment and as an adjunct. Clayton and the team’s placebo-controlled trial showed that bupropion SR could be an antidote for SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction in women
  5. Vortioxetine vs. Escitalopram: The research by Clayton et al. specifically explored how these antidepressants affected sexual functioning in women. Such studies help guide clinicians to choose antidepressants that might have a lesser impact on sexual functioning.

While a broad spectrum of treatments is available, it’s crucial to tailor the approach based on individual needs. The gender-specific nature of some treatments underscores the importance of personalized care in addressing PSSD in women.

Personal Experiences

PSSD Changed My Life – Emily

Emily, a young woman from Vancouver Island, recounts her experience with Post SSRI/SNRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD). Previously, she was an art-loving student but now dedicates her time to health advocacy.

At 17, facing depression, she was prescribed an SSRI antidepressant. The medication improved her mood and focus; however, she noticed diminished sexual feelings shortly after starting the drug. Her psychiatrist assured her these side effects would subside upon discontinuing the medication.

Despite the reduced sexual sensations, Emily continued with the SSRI for several years, finding solace in online messages advocating for psychiatric medications. However, she decided to taper off the drug when the side effects began impacting her intimate relationships. Three weeks later, she awoke with a numbed vulva, absent sexual sensations, and no capacity for attraction or arousal.

Despite consulting multiple medical professionals, most were unaware of PSSD, and no solutions were offered. PSSD, while not recognized by Health Canada, has been gaining attention in Europe. Symptoms can include the absence of sexual feelings, dulled emotions, genital numbness, poor sleep, and brain fog. Three years have passed since Emily’s diagnosis, with no improvement in her condition.

To cope and advocate, Emily established an online PSSD support group, aiming for greater awareness and research into the disorder. The Canadian PSSD Society urges increased awareness, improved prescription warnings, and research into PSSD’s causes and potential treatments.

Emily, now a medical activist, founded the Canadian Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction Society and PSSD International. She is collaborating with researchers at Queens University and the University of Ottawa to investigate PSSD further.

Note: “Emily” is a pseudonym.

Another PSSD Story

The writer started citalopram in 2007 to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and noticed a decline in their sex drive almost immediately.

While reduced libido was expected as a known side effect of SSRI medications, the individual was alarmed when the sexual dysfunction persisted even after discontinuing the drug.

A lack of sexual desire, pleasure-less orgasms, and an anesthetized feeling in the genital region characterized the dysfunction.

The person sought medical advice, but many doctors attributed the problem to low mood or anxiety rather than the SSRI. Only one doctor, an ex-psychiatrist, believed citalopram might be the cause.

Over the years, the PSSD has profoundly impacted the person’s life, affecting relationships and emotional well-being and even leading to severe depression, self-harm, and suicide attempt. The individual feels alienated, misunderstood, and frustrated with the medical community’s reluctance to acknowledge the long-term effects of SSRIs on sexual function.

The comments section reflects similar experiences from other readers, with many expressing their frustration at the dismissive attitudes of medical professionals.

Conclusion

Addressing Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD) demands a comprehensive understanding from both male and female perspectives. Everyone, irrespective of gender, deserves access to accurate information, a proper diagnosis, and tailored treatment avenues. PSSD represents a challenging hurdle, persisting even after the cessation of SSRI use.

While PSSD doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution, there are avenues to consider for management:

  • Modifying the SSRI dosage or exploring alternative medications.
  • Introducing adjunct therapies, such as bupropion.
  • Utilizing cognitive-behavioral therapy.

It’s paramount to guard against beliefs that cement the condition as permanent. Such notions can diminish hope, hinder recovery attempts, and reinforce the condition mentally. The mind’s influence over the body is potent; a negative belief could inadvertently extend the condition’s grasp.

I provide both complimentary and comprehensive consultations. This allows me to suggest a herbal formula tailored to your needs, along with other supportive interventions. It’s noteworthy that while no known medications directly counter PSSD, and many medications come with side effects, I prioritize approaches that harmonize with the body’s natural healing potential.

I firmly believe in body-mind synergy. When given the optimal conditions—the right nutrition, exercise, and a holistic environment—rather than an overload of medications, the body has an innate ability to restore itself.

Do you have any questions? I invite you for a free consultation with me, where I will answer any questions you may have.

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2 Comments

  1. Guy

    Thank you for your insightful feedback regarding the representation in the article. I sincerely apologize for the initial oversight which unintentionally marginalized the experiences of women dealing with PSSD. It’s crucial to acknowledge that this condition affects many women, and my intent was never to minimize their struggles.

    I truly value the perspective you’ve provided, highlighting the necessity of a holistic approach to such nuanced subjects.

    In response to your feedback, I have revised the article to reflect a more balanced view, encompassing the experiences and concerns of both men and women. Our primary goal remains to deliver comprehensive and accurate content, and your input has been invaluable in guiding us closer to that mission. I deeply regret the initial oversight and am genuinely grateful for your vigilance in ensuring we address it.

    Warm regards,

    Guy

  2. ........

    It’s pretty disgusting that the only gender mentioned in this entire article was male. Oh wait, it was clearly stated that pssd affects both sexes in the very beginning, my bad, from that point forward women were not mentioned once. Literally the entire page just kept mentioning how it effected men and their erections as if that’s the only important thing in a sexual relationship. From every female out there with pssd who is routinely ignored, thanks a lot. Glad to know that men’s erections and their enjoyment of the act are still the only things of importance during a sexual encounter.

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