Erection problems due to antidepressants
About 10 years ago, Myron* suffered from a severe depression. This was accompanied by anxiety disorders, among other things. He could no longer sleep. He was constantly restless. His thoughts often did not correspond to reality. He never left his bed. Not because he didn't want to, but because it was just physically impossible. In short, his body did not cooperate any more.
Looking back, he now realises that he must have suffered from depression before. This particular depression was so severe that he sought medical help. Initially, he got that from his GP. It was soon clear to the GP that Myron's symptoms required a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
Antidepressants and side effects
Myron was given an SSRI (this stands for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor; SSRIs slow down the (re)absorption of serotonin). He was happy with this antidepressant. "In fact, I don't think I would be here now without it. For me, it was like the light came back on."
Unfortunately, antidepressants also have side effects. Moreover, it takes a while for the patient to notice that they are working. For Myron, this lasted about 4 to 6 weeks. During that period, he did experience some side effects, but not yet the therapeutic effect of the antidepressant.
The side effects were immediate: Myron gained weight. Suddenly, he could not cope with heat and cold as well. He suffered from gastrointestinal problems. Some things he had always liked eating suddenly didn't taste good any more. That was very bizarre. He had to look for other things to eat. And he became sexually dysfunctional. Some of these side effects passed, such as the change in temperature perception and the gastrointestinal complaints. But he gained a total of 25 kilos, even though before his weight had been constant all his life. And his erectile dysfunction also remained present, unfortunately.
Solution for erectile dysfunction
"The first few months I wasn't that interested," says Myron. "I was only concerned with survival. The erectile dysfunction only started to become a problem after a year. At that time I found out that I could not yet stop taking the medication. I tried to cut back for a while on my GP's advice. Purely to see what happened to the depressive symptoms. Well, they came back immediately. So stopping was not an option. Then I also started thinking about my erection problem. I was in my late 40s at the time, and found that a bit young to stop having sex altogether. So I wanted a solution for that."
No help from the doctor
But Myron's GP was not cooperating at all.
"My GP said: You are depressed, you are no longer sexually functional and you want a medicine for that? I don't buy it. It's all in your head." He advised couples therapy. I had read that Viagra is an excellent solution for erectile dysfunction caused by SSRIs. I tried to discuss this with my doctor. Even printed out research reports and emailed them. It didn't help, he just wouldn't give it and that's that."
The discovery of Dokteronline
It was a few years before Myron discovered that there was now an online route to get medication. He literally discovered that route through a Google search.
He decided to try out some of the new online services. He applied and gave his medical history. Several of the services didn't even respond. But the first contact with Dokteronline was a success. After completing the medical questionnaire, the doctor looked at his symptoms, and within two days Myron had a response with several options. He noticed that his information was handled carefully. Because he had already investigated the pros and cons of these options himself, he was able to make an informed choice.
What a relief that was! Whereas before he felt completely unheard, now suddenly someone was saying: 'I understand what you're going through and these are the treatment options'.
Myron's experience with Dokteronline
"It's not like you press a few buttons and then get a medicine sent to your home. It is a serious process. The contact with Dokteronline is purely by email, so they don't see me. They do see all my data, though. I had to fill in how old I am, that I am a man, what my health is like, what allergies I have and so on. You then sign a number of disclaimers, for example that you have filled in everything truthfully. And that you realise that you are given a medicine on the basis of what you have filled in yourself. You have to click on those disclaimers every time, they don't disappear after one prescription. So it's a very careful process.
They also ask several times how you are doing. With every order, you will receive two or more follow-up emails, asking whether you are satisfied with what you have received and whether everything is going well. That enables them to also keep track of whether you are suffering from any adverse reaction or whether it has gone away. That means it doesn't matter which doctor you have, because any doctor can access your file."
Erectile dysfunction and depression under control
Myron is doing well now. The pills help and he can have sex again whenever he wants. The depression is also 'under control', as they call it. It isn't gone, and perhaps it will never be gone, but Myron can function, work and enjoy a social life.
"Dokteronline offers an alternative route and works very professionally. They are serious, competent and fast. I think it is good that they are proposing several options. It also tells you how much it costs. This may influence some people's choice.
I do find it rather pricey. That will be an obstacle for many people. They could also give themselves a little more publicity.
I will remain a customer of Dokteronline because I am satisfied with how things have gone. This works for me!"
* Real name known to the editors