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Exercise before sexual activity can diminish anti-depressant side effects

Anti-depressant medications are one of the most frequently prescribed medications in developed countries, and their use is growing. For example, in the United States, they are the third most commonly prescribed type of medication, and use has grown over 400% in the past twenty years, more among women then men.

However, one of the most common side effects—and reasons for discontinuing therapy—is diminished sexual functioning, including lowered libido, inability to reach orgasm, and in men, inability to have an adequate erection.

It has been estimated that from 30 to 60%, or even more, patients on these drugs experience sexual side effects at some point. It is important to note however that some types of anti-depressant medications have a much lower risk of sexual side effects (or might even increase sexual desire, such as bupropion), but a majority of the medications prescribed fall into the SSRI class of drugs, and these are the ones most commonly manifesting sexual side effects.

Treating the sexual side effects may not be easy, and often involves switching to other medications or using some combination of drugs, but still, psychiatrists do not have any “magic bullet” to make the side effects go away.

So it is wonderful when doctors publish articles suggesting relatively simple ways to minimize these side effects, especially if it doesn’t involve adding new medications. In the November 2013 Journal of Depression and Anxiety, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin published results of their study, describing a more “natural” way to diminish sexual side-effects.

They found 52 women who were experiencing these side effects from anti-depressants. All were instructed to add three 30-minute workout sessions of moderate intensity aerobic and strength exercise per week. Half performed this exercise within an hour before sexual activity (intercourse or masturbation), and the other half performed their exercise routines at other times; that is, not right before sex.

The results were that all 52 women reported improved orgasms, but the women who exercised right before sex reported even more benefits. They noted significantly stronger sexual desire and overall more satisfactory sexual functioning.

The reason exercise seems to help with sexual functioning is that it stimulates blood flow to the genital region, and one of the reasons anti-depressants impair sexual functioning is that they affect the so-called “sympathetic nervous system” in a way that diminishes blood flow to the genitals.

Although this research was carried out only in women, it is likely that the positive effects of exercise could help many men with these side effects too. (And, it could be that even people not taking anti-depressants might enjoy better sex by exercising soon before sex.)

So if you are taking these medications (or avoid them because you have heard of these side effects), talk to a doctor, preferably a psychiatrist, about what can be done to avoid or treat potential sexual problems.  He might change medications or prescribe a medication such as bupropion that rarely has sexual side effects, or perhaps add some medication such as Viagra or Cialis.

But the simpler, more natural approach is something you can do on your own, without any prescriptions or office visit. You can try adding more exercise to your weekly routine, and especially, try to make the exercise soon before sex.

Should you wish to find a doctor, of any specialty, anywhere in Brazil, use our main website: www.procuramed.com

See also in ProcuraMed:

Sex and exercise: two big conclusions

Frequent sex can rejuvenate

 

Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)