My Antidepressant Is Killing My Libido (And My Dating Life)

I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve had some struggles with my mental health. I tried to deal with it on my own for a while, but late last year, things sorta came to a head and I knew I needed a little extra help. I started taking antidepressants and they’ve helped a ton, but they’ve had one really awful side effect: they’ve killed my libido (and my dating life).

Antidepressants are well known for killing libido

I knew when I started taking antidepressants that low libido was a very real possibility. Research shows that 72% of women on SSRI’s struggle with sexual desire and 84% find it hard to get wet. Not only that, but when we do manage to amp ourselves up enough to get it on, 42% of those of us who take SSRIs can’t orgasm. Yipee.

This happens for a few different reasons. Obviously, the whole reason antidepressants are effective is that they mess with certain neurotransmitters in your brain, including dopamine and serotonin. When your serotonin goes, you’re basically screwed (pun intended) when it comes to your sex drive. Add to that the fact that numbing the negative emotions often tends to numb the good ones too, and it can be a recipe for disaster for your sex life.

That being said, I knew this was the case going in. However, my desire not to wake up every day with an impending sense of dread and the inability to get out of bed and live my life was stronger than my desire to get laid regularly. I figured, “Eh, whatever. It’ll work out.” And I was pleasantly surprised to find that it didn’t have much of an effect on me at first. Until it did.

However, I wasn’t prepared for just how bad it would be

Look, I’m a woman in my prime. I’m 26 years old and basically the hottest I’ll ever be. I want to take advantage of this young, sexy time in my life because I realize it’s fleeting. Prior to going on antidepressants, I really loved having sex. Sometimes I had casual hookups or one-night stands, but generally, I slept with people I was dating for a few months here and there. I did a lot of experimenting and had a whole lot of orgasms and it was great. However, the depression and anxiety I was experiencing were seriously messing with the rest of my life and my weekly therapy appointment wasn’t cutting it anymore. So, onto Lexapro I went.

After about two or three months on antidepressants, my sex drive plummeted. We’re talking dry as a desert down there even with people and in situations that used to really turn me on. It was, oddly enough, kinda depressing. But then again, that was only in theory. In reality, I didn’t feel much about it either way.

What’s odd is that I still wanted to go out on dates and meet people since my general mood was a lot better. I was doing my fair share of swiping on Hinge and met a few people I really liked. However, things got a bit awkward when I realized that the chemistry I shared with these people would eventually lead us to the bedroom.

I’ve ruined more than a few potential relationships because of my antidepressant-induced lack of libido

upset woman awake in bediStock/zoranm

Sex isn’t everything in relationships, obviously. And I wouldn’t ever get involved with someone who only ever saw me as a piece of meat (yes, even if it was just casual sex). That being said, sex is what separates lovers from friends. One time, I went out with this guy I really liked and who was really hot. We went back to his apartment and things were getting hot and heavy…ish.

The problem was that even though my brain logically knew he was attractive and that I wanted him to do all kinds of freaky stuff to me, I also knew it wasn’t going to happen. My nether regions weren’t tingling at the thought of him touching me. In fact, they didn’t even react when he actually did start touching me. I couldn’t get wet and he didn’t have any lube around, so it was a no-go. He was a nice guy so while he was bummed, he wasn’t a jerk about it.

However, the next time it happened, he started to wonder if something was up. I’m a pretty straightforward person, so I told him the truth. He was really understanding and we actually dated for a few more weeks. We did actually even have sex once, but I think it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t enjoying it, so we stopped. So did our burgeoning relationship. But hey, no hard feelings. I didn’t blame him.

I’ve had enough, so I’ve decided to get my life back

I got really sick of feeling bad about myself for this. Do you know how demoralizing it is to go from basically being a sex goddess (in my own head, at least) to having my vibrator basically gather dust in the drawer of my bedside table? I didn’t really care so much about getting off or anything like that. It was more that my dating life was basically nonexistent because of it. And while I’m not willing to come off the Lexapro because it’s helping me maintain my sanity, I would like to enjoy having sex again. So, I’ve decided to make a few changes.

  1. I’m making an appointment with my doctor. I don’t want to go off my antidepressants, but I also want to discuss some alternatives. Like, is it possible that it can still be effective on a smaller dose? If so, I’d like to try it. I’m not a doctor, so I prefer to leave the big decisions until I talk with one.
  2. I do vigorous exercise 5 days a week. Apparently, exercise increases testosterone. And since testosterone is known as the “sex hormone,” the idea is that the more of it you have, the more likely you’ll be to want to have sex. I’m not actually sure if that’s the case or not, but it’s worth a try!
  3. I do meditation and relaxation techniques. Again, I know this is a little woo-woo and all, but I’m open to all suggestions. I know that CBT can be really effective and that meditation has done a ton (just not quite enough) for my anxiety. I’m manifesting a high sex drive, okay? Maybe it’ll work, who knows?
  4. I’m trying a few different supplements. Apparently, maca has been used for enhancing female sex drive for centuries. Even scientific studies have proven its efficacy, so that’s something. I tend to add a bit of maca powder to my morning smoothie or my overnight oats and hope for the best. Ginkgo biloba has also been helpful for antidepressant-induced lack of libido, according to studies. Fingers crossed I’m on my way to orgasm-induced bliss.
Bolde Voices represents writers from around the world who want to share their stories anonymously. While everything you read is based on personal experience, it's the ability to tell their truths without being identified that allows those behind the pieces you read to be so brutally honest.