Does Zoloft affect you sexually? (3+ sexual side effects)
In this article, we will discuss whether Zoloft affects you sexually. We will also discuss some research studies and the incidence of Zoloft-induced sexual side effects. We will also talk about the best alternatives to Zoloft if it affects you sexually.
Does Zoloft affect you sexually?
Yes, Zoloft can affect you sexually. Sexual side effects are quite common with Zoloft (sertraline) and other members of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) class of antidepressants.
These disturbances are one of the common reasons why patient compliance is affected with these antidepressants. Some individuals might discontinue Zoloft or another SSRI because of symptoms like loss of libido, inability to achieve climax, inability to release, etc (1,2).
Sexual side effects are common with both men and women and can affect some people severely. However, most of these side effects are expected to be temporary and are most intense during the early phase of treatment. As your body adjusts to the antidepressant, these side effects begin to fade away with time.
However, some people may continue to experience sexual disturbances on Zoloft, as individuals are different and can respond differently to antidepressants. So, it’s best to reach out to your provider if Zoloft is affecting you sexually.
What sexual side effects are associated with Zoloft?
Zoloft is associated with the following sexual side effects: (1,2)
Loss of libido
Zoloft can affect the drive for sexual activity or sex drive. Some individuals may notice a decrease in their overall desire or find it more challenging to become sexually aroused. Their usual turn-ons might fail to arouse them.
This change in libido is a common side effect experienced by some people taking Zoloft. It could be dose-dependent and does fade away with time as the body adjusts to the antidepressant.
Zoloft may lead to difficulties in achieving or maintaining an erection during sexual activity in men. This can be distressing and impact the overall sexual experience. It’s important to note that not everyone will experience this side effect, and its severity can vary among individuals.
Zoloft can also cause a delay in reaching climax. This means that it might take longer than usual to climax during sexual activity or that achieving climax becomes more challenging. This side effect can affect both men and women.
Problems in climax
Zoloft may influence the intensity or pleasure associated with climaxes Some individuals might find that the overall satisfaction or enjoyment during climax is affected while on the medication. Like other sexual side effects, the impact can vary among individuals.
What does research suggest?
Several research studies have discussed the sexual side effects associated with sertraline, the active drug in Zoloft, and SSRIs in general.
One research study has indicated that sexual side effects are quite common with SSRIs, and up to 70% of people taking sertraline can experience sexual side effects to some degree (3).
Another research study suggested that sertraline, fluoxetine, paroxetine, etc., commonly affect sexual functions in both men and women, compared to other SSRIs like escitalopram and fluvoxamine, which may only cause mild sexual dysfunction (4).
Research further suggests that SSRIs, including sertraline, can cause delayed release, loss of libido, and erectile dysfunction in men (5), while women may experience loss of libido, delayed climax, or an inability to achieve a climax (6).
These side effects can affect the quality of life in some cases and may persist after treatment discontinuation. The incidence of Zoloft-induced sexual side effects can vary and some side effects are more commonly reported compared to others.
|Sexual side effects
|Loss of Libido
|Inability to climax
|Priapism (Prolonged Erection)
|Dyspareunia (Painful Intercourse)
What to do if Zoloft affects you sexually?
If Zoloft affects you sexually, it’s best to reach out to your healthcare provider. Sexual side effects with Zoloft can be temporary and may resolve as your body adjusts to the medication.
If you’re a new Zoloft user or your dose has recently increased, your doctor might opt for a dose reduction to help your body adjust. If you respond well, your doctor may gradually increase your dose over time to ensure you receive the right amount of Zoloft for your symptoms.
If Zoloft continues to affect you sexually, your doctor may adjust your treatment plan. In cases of major depressive disorder, doctors may add another antidepressant to Zoloft therapy, like Wellbutrin (bupropion). (5)
The combination of Zoloft and Wellbutrin is considered effective, as Wellbutrin counteracts the sexual side effects of Zoloft while managing the symptoms of MDD. However, if monotherapy is sufficient, your doctor will consider alternative treatment options and safely switch you to a different antidepressant.
What are the alternatives to Zoloft in case of sexual disturbances?
Atypical antidepressants, such as Wellbutrin, Remeron, etc, can be used as alternatives to Zoloft if it causes sexual side effects. Atypical antidepressants are known to cause the least sexual side effects and are generally well-tolerated.
However, the decision to switch to a different antidepressant and the choice of antidepressant should only be made by a qualified healthcare professional. It is never advisable to make changes to your treatment plan on your own or to stop taking Zoloft abruptly.
As a pharmacist, I always emphasise to my patients the importance of proper drug use. In cases of Zoloft-induced sexual side effects, I suggest taking Zoloft in the morning, which might help mitigate these side effects by night, allowing for more comfortable engagement in sexual activities.
However, individuals vary, and changes in dosage strength or the timing of taking Zoloft may not help everyone. If you continue to experience sexual side effects with Zoloft, I advise consulting with your healthcare provider and not making any changes to your prescription on your own.
- Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547689
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use. Available from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/019839s74s86s87_20990s35s44s45lbl.pdf
- Kennedy SH, Eisfeld BS, Dickens SE, Bacchiochi JR, Bagby RM. Antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction during treatment with moclobemide, paroxetine, sertraline, and venlafaxine. J Clin Psychiatry. 2000 Apr;61(4):276-81. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v61n0406. PMID: 10830148. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10830148/
- Hutters CL, Giraldi A. [Sexual side effects from treatment with SSRI]. Ugeskr Laeger. 2022 Apr 4;184(14):V11210824. Danish. PMID: 35410653. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35410653/
- Hsu JH, Shen WW. Male sexual side effects associated with antidepressants: a descriptive clinical study of 32 patients. Int J Psychiatry Med. 1995;25(2):191-201. doi: 10.2190/1DHU-Y7L7-9GKG-V7WV. PMID: 7591493. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7591493/
- Shen WW, Hsu JH. Female sexual side effects associated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: a descriptive clinical study of 33 patients. Int J Psychiatry Med. 1995;25(3):239-48. doi: 10.2190/N6C0-DWX2-G4EA-7688. PMID: 8567191. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8567191/