Dear Dr. Vanessa: Can Zoloft Affect My Sex Drive?

photo by Nathan Csonka

Every few weeks, Dr. Vanessa Cullins, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist and vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood® Federation of America, will be answering your questions here. To ask her your own question, click here.

Dear Dr. Vanessa,

Can Zoloft affect my sex drive? I never feel intimate anymore, and it’s really hurting my relationship — my partner gets so upset because he doesn’t think I find him attractive anymore. I just don’t feel like having sex, ever.

— Sophie’s Choice

Dear S.C.,

Zoloft is one brand name of certain kinds of prescription medication that are technically called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Other common brand names for SSRIs include Celexa, Lexipro, Paxil, and Prozac. SSRIs are used to treat depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and other conditions, including premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Like all medications, SSRIs may have side effects for some people. The possible side effects of SSRIs include decreased sex drive and/or more difficult orgasm — for women and men. Each SSRI may have different effects on different people.

Talk with your health care provider if you find that the SSRI — or any other medication — you are taking is affecting your sex life. Your provider may be able to substitute a different SSRI or a different kind of medication. Or your provider may suggest testing for other potential causes of decreased sex drive and function, which include certain hormone deficiencies and thyroid conditions.

Don’t let embarrassment prevent you from enjoying your sexuality as much as you can. Always be open about your sexual concerns with your health care provider, who will try to help you solve sexual problems that may be related to your medications.

Similarly, share with your partner any concerns you may have about changes in your sex drive — no matter what the reasons may be. It may be difficult to assure partners that one’s feelings are not about them, but it is worth trying — communication is everything. Understandably, partners may find it difficult to accept that their significant other’s appetite for sex has changed, especially if it needs to be for an extended or indefinite period of time. In such cases, professional counseling with a sex therapist may be helpful.

Best wishes for your good sexual health,

Planned Parenthood

Vanessa Cullins, MD, MPH, MBA, is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist and vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood® Federation of America.

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7 Comments on "Dear Dr. Vanessa: Can Zoloft Affect My Sex Drive?"

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I took Zoloft for close to 12 months and my sex drive slowly diminished over the course of the duration. I’ve been off it completely for about 6 months, and I never feel like having sex. Ever. And when I have sex with my partner, it’s because I feel so guilty. Zoloft is a horrible drug and it’s ruined my wonderful sex life with my partner.


I have had contrary results with Zoloft. I think it has actually increased my sex drive. I also have hypothyroidism and take meds for that too, so i think that taking Zoloft and keeping my depression and anxiety under control has resulted in me feeling better mentally/emotionally therefore i feel more sexually stimulated.


I have to disagree with you misspiggy, antidepressants are used also for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety disorder. These are things you don’t just “get over.”


I think it’s been said in these pages before that antidepressant medications are only designed to be temporary. They are meant to be taken to get you over a difficult period, and other therapies are then meant to be used if necessary to tackle the root causes of depression. Lazy doctors put people on antidepressants for long periods. So as well as looking into alternative meds, look into doctors who will give you more appropriate help than simply long term antidepressants. Best of luck.


I’m on Zoloft. My libido hasn’t changed, but I have a hard time having an orgasm. Especially when masturbating. It’s almost like I have to give myself a good hour of foreplay just to masturbate. Kind of defeats the purpose of masturbating, but I do what I got to do.

I feel for people who experience this. This products, in my experience, really can affect things poorly. I do think that giving things a chance, like Dave suggests, can help. In fact, a lot of women need to start foreplay or sex before they’re aroused (which differs from the usual order for men, in which arousal comes first.) You may find that the physical contact makes things appealing to you. But, by all means, never feel any pressure to do anything you don’t want to do, and certainly don’t feel guilty for not wanting to do it. I know how… Read more »
Dave W

In my experience, there’s a piece of advice offered in other instances where lack of desire is an issue that also applies here. It’s that desire can be created with a little effort. Canoodling. What-have-you. Your mileage may vary, of course.