Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford
Psychotropic Medications & Sexual Side Effects
There is no denying good mental health improves the quality of one’s life and to some extent our physical health as well. Having positive mental health allows us to be free of both emotional and psychological problems, anxiety, depression, mania, addictions and other mental health challenges. Positive mental health strengthens our ability to:
Establish and maintain healthy relationships
Successfully plan for out futures
Make positive life choices
Effectively negotiate the everyday challenges of life
Individuals struggling with the challenges of a mental health disorder often experience difficulties striking a balance between positive mental health and negative mental health. Those diagnosed with a severe and persistent mental illness requiring psychotropic medication often face additional challenges related to medications prescribed to stabilize the illness. Sexual dysfunction caused by psychotropic medications has become an increasingly important clinical topic and concern for those suffering from mental illness and mental health providers. With enhanced research and work with those diagnosed with a mental health condition did we as mental health professionals identify and acknowledge a positive correlation between some psychotropic medications and negative sexual side effects. The prevalence rates of sexual side effects are extraordinarily difficult to estimate due to a variety of factors, such as the effect of the disorder being treated, comorbid disorders and baseline sexual dysfunction.
Individuals with mental health disorders that are married, in a relationship, or singles in search of a relationship often face additional challenges when seeking or maintaining a relationship when under treatment for a mental health disorder. Although, not everyone will experience sexual dysfunction while taking psychotropic medications, some will. Those that experience negative sexual side effects often find it to be very distressing and challenging to establishing, building, and sustaining a relationship. In fact, many people who experience negative sexual side effects with psychotropic consider these problems the most troubling side effect of the medication. These problems can be so distressing and humiliating that people often want to stop taking their medication, leaving them vulnerable to mental decompensation.
Negative sexual side effects can occur in a variety of areas of sexual activity. These particular problems include:
•A decreased interest or desire for sex
•Ejaculation or orgasm problems
Another commonly reported negative sexual side effect of some psychotropic medications include problems with ejaculation or orgasms. When referencing problems with ejaculation we are referring to a variety of problems that may occur with ejaculation. Problems with Ejaculation include:
Ejaculation failure- which consists of one’s inability to ejaculate in a timely manner, or at all.
Ejaculation decrease- which denotes reduced amounts of ejaculate or semen.
Retrograde ejaculation- which occurs when semen enters the bladder instead of leaving the body through the penis. Men with retrograde ejaculation may notice cloudy urine after orgasm.
Matthew & Jennifer
Mathew & Jennifer have been married for 5 years and in the last year, Mathew has struggled with medication compliance to treat schizophrenia. For the last year Mathew has been inconsistent with taking his medication as prescribed, therefore his behavior has become increasingly erratic and unpredictable. Jennifer has made several unsuccessful attempts to encourage Mathew to take his medication to avoid further conflicts in personal and work life. However, Mathew is adamant he will not take his medication anymore as he feels he no longer needs it. Jennifer suspects, Mathew’s refusal to take his medications as prescribed stems from recent embarrassing incidents during intimacy in which Mathew was unable to perform sexually. Are there any other options available that can ensure Mathew’s mental stability and allow the return of s normal healthy sex life?