Q. I am 50 years old and in good health. I have taken Prozac until quite recently. Over the last few years my libido and my ability to perform sexually have diminished noticeably.
I thought that when I stopped the Prozac everything would return to normal. That hasn’t yet happened. Could this drug still be causing my difficulties?
A. Many antidepressants, including Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Celexa (citalopram), Effexor (venlafaxine), Lexapro (escitalopram) and Pristiq (desvenlafaxine), can cause sexual side effects. Some studies have found that one-third to two-thirds of patients taking such drugs may experience lower libido, reduced arousal and delayed climax. Some complain of genital “anesthesia” and orgasm without pleasure.
Although many doctors assume that such side effects will disappear shortly after people discontinue their antidepressants, that may not always be true. One review of case reports concluded that certain antidepressants “can cause long-term effects on all aspects of the sexual response cycle that may persist after they are discontinued” (Journal of Sexual Medicine, Jan. 2008).