The Psychopharmacology of Sex, Part 1: Neurotransmitters and the 3 Phases of the Human Sexual Response

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The human sexual response is an often overlooked dimension of psychiatric disorders and is an important consideration in treatment with psychotropic drugs, especially antidepressants. Clinicians as well as the literature tend to think of “sexual dysfunction” in a global sense rather than in terms of “sexual phase dysfunction” with unique neuropharmacologic mechanisms, unique impacts of disease on each phase, and in particular, unique actions of various drugs on the various phases of the sexual response. Here, we review a simplified formulation of the neuropharmacology of the normal human sexual response. Next month, we will review the actions of various drugs and diseases upon the normal human sexual response, not in global terms, but according to effects on each of the phases of sexual functioning.

J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(2):80-81