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Genital anesthesia after taking antidepressant
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Screenyname posted:
I recently have taken the antidepressant Cymbalta. Shortly after I began the treatment, my genitals became mostly numb and almost all the pleasure in sex/masturbation completely disappeared. I assumed that this was part of the sexual side effects mentioned (though I never assumed they'd be quite so significant). However, several months after having stopped taking the antidepressant (since it was ineffective), I am still having the side effects. Does anyone have any insight into what's going on, and anything I can do to solve the problem? Thank you.
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Karen Luster, MD responded:
Genital anesthesia is not usually associated with antidepressants. It can delayed orgasm, decrease libido or desire in men and women.

Some people who have depression or anxiety disorders may suffer from somatic complaints such as unexplained numbness and pains. This can be helped with treatment recommended by their therapists or physicians.

People who have experienced trauma or damage to the nerves or spinal cord specifically to the nerves that go to the genital region may have numbness. However, more than just genital numbness will be observed. Most people are so uncomfortable they tend to have presented to a physician to be evaluated.

The group that is well known for being at risk for numbness in the genitalia or bottom area is long term bike riders. This is due to persistent pressure to the nerves in the region. So if you are an avid bike rider this is a true possibility.
 
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Screenyname replied to Karen Luster, MD's response:
I have not experienced any spinal trauma or have spent any considerable amount of time bike riding. This problem has persisted even as I have overcome the issues for which I have taken the SSRIs. Additionally, using a quick Google search for "genital anesthesia" I am provided with numerous links to people complaining about the same problem; that is, taking SSRIs followed by various sexual dysfunctions. I have various articles pulled from Pubmed.gov such as:

Genital anaesthesia persisting six years after sertraline discontinuation

Persistent sexual dysfunction after discontinuation of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

And from other sources:
Sexual Side Effects of Antidepressant Medications: An Informed Consent Accountability Gap


Persistence of Sexual Dysfunction Side Effects after Discontinuation of Antidepressant Medications: Emerging Evidence

A choice quote from the previous:

" Deisenhammer and Trawoger state that genital anes-
thesia is probably associated with all antidepressants that
enhance serotonergic neurotransmission. Clayton and Mon-
tejo point to a possible basis for the symptom, noting
that serotonergic medications may decrease genital sensation
via diminished nitric oxide function. Nitric oxide is integral
to penile and clitoral tumescence. Deisenhammer and Tra-
woger call for controlled studies to evaluate the inci-
dence of SSRI induced genital anesthesia. To the present
author's knowledge, no such controlled studies have been
performed. Indeed, our literature supports the assumption
that genital anesthesia and ejaculatory anhedonia/pleasure-
less orgasm are rare by failing to systematically include the
symptoms in our instruments, and by failing to report them
transparently when they are included. "

In fact, there is a Yahoo group with over 2600 members that complains of persistent side effects from SSRIs, including genital anesthesia:

SSRIsex ? Persistent SSRI sexual side effects

Now, I am not a doctor. I don't have the means to properly analyze this information. I recognize that correlation does not equal causation, and consider myself an intelligent and rational person. The evidence seems to be pointing in one direction: that SSRIs can have long-term sexual side effects, including genital anesthesia. Of course, I'm not saying this is the case for every person that takes SSRIs, otherwise I think the outcry would be much more considerable than it is now, but seeing as it's happening to me, you can understand why I find the subject so important.
 
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VeggieJuicer replied to Screenyname's response:
Hi Screenyname, I thought I'd chip in just in case you're still watching this thread. I am with you 100% on this; it happened to me too, and it happens to others. Why is there no outcry-? Well what do I do? Doctors tend not to even believe us, though as you have shown, awareness is slowly increasing. People need to be warned of the potential dangers of these medications before they take them.

The initial sexual dysfunction I experienced on the SSRI was alleviated with the herbs ginkgo biloba and ashwagandha, which I still take now, 6 years later. They are believed to be safe for long-term use and do not overstimulate the body (as other herbs such as ginseng or yohimbe may). Unfortunately, when I discontinued the SSRI even those were little help and I experienced full genital anesthesia, which persisted for months. Slowly, very slowly, I got some sensation back, and I think this may have partly been due to a good supplement regime which includes krill oil, vitamin C, and B vitamins.

I believe the initial depression I had was caused by chronic fatigue and I have spent the past several years trying to treat this. I have found that whenever my body is under stress, the genital anesthesia returns, for example when discontinuing meds (no more antidepressants though) and various supplements that weren't working for me. I am going through this again right now, which is particularly upsetting because I had just made efforts to regain intimacy with my husband. I just started taking a small niacin supplement which appears to hold some promise, and I have ordered cordyceps, which is also supposed to support the adrenals and help with sexual functioning.

With a good diet and supplement regime, I believe it should be possible for many of us with this distressing problem to eventually heal. I know how frustrating and dehumanising it can be, especially when our doctors dismiss us as anomalies. Best of luck on your journey x
 
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breal134 replied to VeggieJuicer's response:
I have the same thing you do. I am a 21 year old male and the numbness persists just about everyday. I have been off of paxil for about 4 months now and I don't see much improvement. I have a hard time not thinking about it because I can get pretty high anxiety most days, but I do my best to exercise and live my life. Thank you for your input on what helps you with this, I will try some of it. I am extremely angry that this side-effect is not brought up to the attention of the manufacturers / doctors. This may not have happened to me if this was a known problem. I don't know how many people have to suffer from this problem for it to be real for these doctors. Every life is just has just as worth as the next person. I think these people lost sight of that when they saw how much money they could make. It's all about money, not caring for other people. IT PISSES ME OFF
 
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topknot1 replied to Screenyname's response:
I'm a 23 year old male and I've been suffering from this for almost a year after finishing citalopram. I was prescribed it for anxiety and I had absolutely no trouble before or while I was on the drug as regards to sexual dysfunction apart from it taking more work to get there. However when I first started tapering down I got the genital numbness. So I stayed on it for a little longer (it was ok again) and then tapered of gradually hoping it will sort it self out. For the last year it's been all over the place. It's as if i have cycles of numbness, premature ejaculation and then it been normalish but nothing like it was before.

I saw my Dr about this and rubbished all of this claiming I was still anxious when other than this I've never been happier in my life and while I was suffering from anxiety pre medication I was fine. He offered to put me back on it but I refused as I was concerned it will only further entrench the problem when I come off it again. It is very frustrating when Drs rubbish this or aren't even aware of post ssri sexual dysfunction when there's a wealth of research and anecdotal evidence that a quick google can reveal.

Recently I had been feeling I was getting out of all this cycle and returning to how I was but the genital anesthesia hit me again. I've started feeling again I've screwed my body up for life before it even properly started. I started taking Ginkgo Bilboa supplements which have helped very much the last few days. Though I'm concerned I'll build up a tolerance to them and they'll stop working.

I just wanted to put another experience out there, especially seeing as the initial response to your post was very poor.
 
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Screenyname replied to topknot1's response:
I am heartened to see your and everyone's responses to this issue. I think it's probable that the mainstream of medical knowledge is completely ignorant of this matter, but perhaps if enough people begin complaining it'll start to receive some recognition.

Is there any possibility of getting a doctor to speak in the thread again? Perhaps one who is willing to acknowledge the possibility of our complaint being valid? Either a lot of people who are taking antidepressants are also having spinal problems, or there's something going on with these pills. Antidepressants are already known to cause a whole raft of other sexual dysfunctions, is anesthesia so inconceivable?
 
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Bjornsdo replied to Karen Luster, MD's response:
I'm sorry but this is totally wrong. There are TONS of forum on the internet for people who have IRREVERSIBLE sexual problem, including genital numbness, after taking SSRIs. Another drug that notoriously causes similar problems is the acne drug ACCUTANE. A third horrible drug is Propecia for hairloss - devastating sexual side effects lasting indefinitely after patients get off the drug.
 
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Bjornsdo replied to Screenyname's response:
Same happened with me. 100% loss of sexual sensation/totally numb gspot and clitoris still, 3 years after quitting an SSRI.
 
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corvid0 replied to Bjornsdo's response:
I am in the same boat too.. it makes me sick just thinking about it possibly being permanent. Like the others above I've also researched and there is definitely a strong connection. I stopped taking sertraline a few months ago and have an extremely reduced sense of pleasure in my clitoris, if it can be called pleasure at all. Orgasm happens much faster than it used to, and even though it also the only time there is a recognizable "pleasure", it is nothing compared to what it used to be.
While on the drug I felt normal, this only happened after I stopped. Another note I should add is that the first time I discovered the lack of pleasure there were pains on my clitoris on and off for days afterward, escalating in frequency and eventually stopping. Has this part happened to anyone else?
 
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Gollygeewillikers responded:
I stopped Cymbalta without tapering down the dosage after taking it October 2007 to February 2008. The second day I took it I noticed that it took much longer to orgasm; only later did I realize it was because I had lost much sexual sensation. These "side effects" have lasted through today, frustrating me and my partner.
Believe it or not, I haven't really looked for a cure since then, but if I find one, I will let you know. Please do the same.
 
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lopkiol responded:
My doctor basically forced me to take Sertraline. I don't like to take medications in general and I had already tried many different benzo and non-benzo diazepines at that time. After I refused a couple of times, he said he would have stopped helping me if I didn't take it. I took it for two months. He never told me about any possible sexual adverse side effect.
It is now 2 years. I have never recovered. The pleasure and feeling I had before those two months are a memory of the past.
What to do now? There are a few medications you can take:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_serotonin_reuptake_inhibitor#Sexual_dysfunction
I haven't tried any yet but if somebody here has, we would be glad to hear how it went.
 
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alex19791979 responded:
How are you doing now, 1 year later?
 
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alex19791979 replied to breal134's response:
how are you doing now, 1 year later? any improvemenet?


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