Having sex on antidepressants
You don’t need to choose between your mental health and libido
Much like a pinch of Tide Original washing powder scraping away a tough stain, I saw antidepressants as little miracle pills that wiped the layers of gloom off my brain cells. I’ve been on and off antidepressants since I was 16. Without getting into the technicality of chemical compounds, I’m just going to say that depression medication works, but it’s understandable to be wary of possible side-effects. Over time, I have gone through phases of weight gain and hair loss and even some Walking Dead-esque zombie modes. I expected these changes to follow, but one of the side-effects that really caught me off-guard – and somehow my doctor failed to mention as I got older – was the death of my sex drive.
I felt as dry as the Thar and the thought of having sex either exhausted or bored me. Would I have to choose between my mental health and sex life? I didn’t want to, so I decided to get to the bottom of it. And here’s what helped me regain that lovin’ feeling.
Step 1: Understand what’s going on
It may not feel like a Eureka moment but acknowledging that there might be issue and getting to identify it is half the job done. Whether it’s got anything to do with climaxing, inability to maintain an erection, lack of lubrication despite arousal or even just not getting aroused, zeroing in on the exact hurdle will make it easier to work on a solution.
Step 2: Explore your sexual desires
News flash: everyone masturbates. And if you don’t, then you should, guilt-free—it is, after all, ‘sex with somebody you love‘. Sometimes it just takes pushing your own buttons to find out what makes you feel good, and what doesn’t. If you like what you feel, don’t stop. Masturbation could also help you assess how long it might to take for you to orgasm while engaging in intercourse.
Step 3: Experiment in bed
There’s no foolproof way to have mind-blowing sex but keeping an open mind can help. Try lube or get a vibrator if you want to intensify your orgasm. If the foreplay patterns from before you went on medication now seem ineffective, maybe it’s time to experiment with role play, or throw in some kink and sex toys into the mix.
Step 4: Communicate with your partner
It’s a great time to talk about mental health. A first date might seem too early to share your woes, but this is situation in which you need patience and understanding, not pressure and shame. Listen to your Freudian subconscious and communicate your sexual desires to your partner. I was lucky to have a partner who knew about my struggle with depression and medication and helped me come to terms with it.
Step 5: Seek expert help
There are several antidepressants to help combat your illness but be sure to tell your doctor about the side-effects you’re experiencing. Some are instant, others stay consistent, and some may act up even months down the line. My psychiatrist changed up dosages and pill formulations to fight my decreased libido until he found the one that worked best for my needs – emotional, mental, and sexual.
You’re taking medication for an illness that is common and you’re far from alone if you’re experiencing side-effects. All you need is a little proactiveness – don’t wait to get turned on, go and make it happen. But, most of all, make sex all about the journey, not an Olympic stunt to pull off in the end.
This is an anonymous account as told to Sara Hussain.
Stylist: Divya Gursahani; Hair: Krisann Figueiredo; Make-up: Riddhima Sharma; Model: Archana Nair/ Inega.
On Archana: Dress, Kanelle.