Erectile dysfunction caused by use of antidepressants

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About 10 years ago, Myron* went through a severe depression. He experienced a lot of anxiety, couldn’t sleep and felt restless all the time. He started to lose touch with reality. He couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Not because he didn’t want to, but because he couldn’t muster the energy. It was like his body was shutting down.

Looking back, he realises that this wasn’t the first time he experienced depression. But this time, his depression was so bad that he got medical help. First, he turned to his GP, who immediately saw that Myron's condition required a combination of therapy and medication.

Antidepressants and side effects

Myron was prescribed a Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor (SSRI). SSRIs block serotonin re-uptake, which increases serotonin levels in the brain. For Myron, the antidepressant was a godsend. “I don't think I'd be here today if I wouldn’t have been given this medicine. It was as if the lights came back on.”

The downside to antidepressants is that they have side effects. Antidepressants can also take a while to be fully effective. In Myron’s case, it took four to six weeks. While he was waiting for the therapeutic effect to kick in, he experienced a number of side effects.

Almost immediately Myron noticed that he started to gain weight. He also became more sensitive to heat and cold. He started having digestive problems. He could not tolerate some foods he had always liked. This was really bizarre. Because his taste and smell was affected, he had to change his eating patterns. The medication also caused sexual side effects. Some side effects went away on their own, such as the gastrointestinal symptoms and sensitivity to heat and cold. He gained about 25 kilos in total, while before taking antidepressants he always had a stable weight. And unfortunately, his erectile dysfunction did not improve.

Remedy for erectile dysfunction

“The first few months, I couldn’t be bothered,” Myron continues. “I was living from day to day. More like surviving. It was only after a year that my erection problems started to bother me. This was when I found out I couldn’t just stop taking my medication. The doctor advised me to reduce the dose for a few weeks to see how I would respond. Well, my symptoms came back in full swing, just like before. So stopping wasn’t an option. This is when I decided to do something about my erection problems. I was in my late 40s at the time, too young to stop having sex. I desperately wanted to find a solution."

No support from GP

Myron’s GP was anything but supportive. Myron: “He didn’t believe my sexual problems were related to the medication I was taking for depression. Instead, he thought the problem was psychological and advised couples counselling. I, on the other hand, had read that for some men, taking Viagra can alleviate SSRI-induced erectile dysfunction. I tried to talk to my GP about this. I even printed out research reports and e-mailed them to him. But it was all a big waste of time. He flat out refused to prescribe it.”

Discovery of Dokteronline

It still took a few years before Myron found out that it’s possible to search for medicines online. He discovered this, literally, via Google Search.

He decided to try out a couple of these online services, signed up and entered his medical history on their websites. Some of these providers didn’t even bother to respond. But with Dokteronline, he had a completely different experience. After he filled in the medical questionnaire, the doctor reviewed his symptoms. Within two days, Myron received a response, listing various treatment options. His data and personal information were dealt with in a conscientious and confidential manner. Because he had already looked into the pros and cons of the options provided, he was able to make an informed decision quickly. What a relief! With his GP, he felt like he was talking to a brick

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