Unfortunately, sexual side effects are incredibly common with numerous types of medication. Antidepressants including SSRIs and MOAIs, blood pressure medications, and certain hormonal meds are just some of the commonly prescribed drugs that can affect sexual function.
The impact can include loss of arousal, erectile issues, pain during sex, and anorgasmia. Obviously, not everyone who takes medication experiences these issues and not everyone will experience them to the same extent. But they are super common.
Please note that I am not a medical professional, so I have kept my advice here in the realm of sex and relationship advice, not medical advice.
With that disclaimer out of the way, what can you do if medication is messing with your sexual pleasure?
Talk to your doctor
You shouldn’t have to choose between medication that helps you, and a happy and pleasurable sex life. You should be able to have both! If you’re suffering from sexual side effects, talk to your doctor.
A good doctor will work with you to find a medication solution that helps you without damaging your sex life. If your doctor dismisses you or doesn’t think sexual pleasure is important, fire that doctor and get a new one if you possibly can.
Sex matters to many of us. It’s a quality of life issue. You deserve to get medical support and be taken seriously.
Expand your definition of sex
If you can’t or don’t want to change your medication, you can get creative to enjoy a healthy and fulfilling sex life. Are you defining sex as just one thing? Too many people still think “sex” refers only to penis-in-vagina or penis-in-anus penetration.
If you’re not able to do those things right now, or finding them less pleasurable, expanding your definition of sex can open up a new world of fun. What if sex didn’t have to involve penetration? What if sex didn’t have to involve orgasm?
You might also find that taking the pressure off, by focusing on things other than penetration or orgasm or whatever you’re struggling with, will actually make it easier for those things to happen. Pressure and stress are huge desire-killers.
Experiment with toys
For example, if you have a penis and are struggling with erectile issues, why not try a toy like the Hot Octopuss Pulse? This innovative toy is designed to work equally well on a flaccid or hard penis.
If you’re struggling with loss of sensation or reduced sensation, a very powerful vibrator can help. When I suffered from anorgasmia due to antidepressants, it was a wand vibrator that finally broke through the block.
If erection struggles are at play but you want to do penetrative sex with your partner, it’s completely okay to use a strap-on! This can give you the sensation of fucking without the pressure and stress of wondering whether your body will cooperate.
I know too many people who have struggled through sex that was not pleasurable, or was even painful, because they didn’t want to let their partner down.
However, a partner who loves and respects you will want to understand your experience and support you. Talk to them about where you’re at and how you’re feeling.
You deserve great sex, and great (partnered) sex is a collaborative process. So be honest with your partner and share your experience. If you want their help, ask for it. If you just want their patience and understanding while you adjust, ask for that too.
Fight self-blame and shame
There’s no shame in what you’re going through right now. Sexual problems are still hugely stigmatised and, unfortunately, so are certain types of medication (such as antidepressants). However, please try to avoid getting into a shame cycle or blaming yourself.
If you’re struggling with shame, reach out to others who have had similar experiences, ask your partner for reassurance and support, or talk to a therapist.
You have nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about!