Sildenafil in the Treatment of SSRI-Induced Sexual Dysfunction: A Pilot Study

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Background: Sexual dysfunction is a well-documented side effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Commonly reported side effects include erectile impotence, anorgasmia, ejaculatory delay, pain, loss of sensation, and decreased pleasure. Early reports of the reversal of sexual dysfunction after using sildenafil in male and female patients receiving various types and dosages of SSRIs are promising and prompted this study. Our aim was to evaluate the effects of oral sildenafil on reported secondary sexual dysfunction in patients concurrently treated with SSRIs.

Method: Fourteen male patients who developed sexual dysfunction while receiving SSRIs were screened using the Arizona Sexual Experience (ASEX) scale. An electrocardiogram was obtained at the beginning and at the end of the study. Each patient was prescribed sildenafil tablets to be taken twice a week, 25-100 mg, prior to sexual activity and told to record the findings in a running diary which he was to keep during his treatment period. The patients were seen weekly and evaluated by clinical interview and ASEX scale. Patients were treated for a total of 8 weeks.

Results: All but 1 of the 14 patients experienced an improvement of sexual dysfunction, with 9 patients at the first dose of 25 mg and 4 at higher doses (3 at 50 mg and 1 at 75 mg). One patient required 100 mg to obtain minimal response.

Discussion: Sildenafil was shown to be helpful in the treatment of SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. Three patients continued to experience ongoing positive effects after discontinuation of sildenafil; the other 10 patients relapsed.

Primary Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 1999;1(6):184-187

https://doi.org/10.4088/PCC.v01n0603