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    My Antidepressants Completely Demolished My Sex Drive, So I Asked Doctors For Advice On What To Do

    This is the story of how I overcame having my meds kill my once very high sex drive.

    Before I got on medication, I was the horny friend, to put it bluntly.

    An image of the author posing under a tree
    Laura Mares Photography / Via lauramares.com

    Not the type of horny that would make out with every guy at the bar — I was way too shy for that lifestyle. I’m talking about the type that, once they’re in a relationship, have sex all the time. Basically, I was one-half of the typical horny couple that gets whacked off within the first 30 minutes of the horror film. So that y’all get it: I was running on hormones until I was 21 years old.

    A couple of other things about me that you should know: I have a few mental disorders and physical ailments. The mental package comes with OCD, depression, and anxiety. And the physical baggage involved waking up almost every night in screaming pain from my chronic migraines. Needless to say, life wasn't pleasant for me for a long time. And I tried everything — from experimental yoga to buying a new mattress — but nothing really worked.

    So begrudgingly, in mid-February 2020, my parents drove me to the doctor in an effort to finally find a solution for the pain I was living with.

    An image of the author's bottle of new medication
    Delilah Gray

    After only a five-minute conversation, my doctor immediately wanted to get me onto a new medication. He told me it’d help me with both my depression and chronic migraines in a few weeks. Now, initially, I was super excited. I desperately wanted relief. Then I asked the dreaded question: “What side effects are there?” To which he told both my mother and me that I’d be more anxious for a few weeks, and possibly experience the "normal" antidepressant side effects. He told me to expect some weight gain, some trouble sleeping, and low libido, and that for the first few weeks, I'd feel even more anxious than usual. But he also reminded me that the symptoms vary with everyone. Here's the thing: I had it all eventually. But I also had no migraines.

    Let’s fast-forward about six months to August 2020: The medication my doctor had prescribed worked wonders. I barely had any migraines anymore, and I was finally handling my emotions clearly. Almost everything was perfect — except that I'd lost my sex drive.

    An image of pharmaceutical pills on an orange background
    Grace Cary / Getty Images

    I spoke with marriage and family therapist Charna Cassell, founder of the Center for Passionate Living. Cassell told BuzzFeed, “Antidepressants are notorious for killing one's libido. They widen your window of how much you can feel or tolerate before getting overwhelmed, but they also numb your hyperarousal response, which is needed for turn-on.”

    So even though I had established that what I was experiencing was normal, I was still left with the question, How the heck am I supposed to deal with it?

    A woman crouched in the hallway, hugging her knees
    Elva Etienne / Getty Images

    That’s where I had some issues too. Even now I struggle with it, because I’ve been so used to my horny self before the meds. However, something to realize is that you change and your sex drive can, too, naturally. It doesn’t mean you’re broken.

    Whenever I’m feeling insecure about it, I first remind myself that it’s OK not to be in the mood. Caitlin V. Neal, MPH, resident sexologist for sexual hygiene company Royal, summed it up perfectly: “Keep connected to your sexuality and eroticism ... Notice where you feel erotically engaged, celebrate it when it happens, and turn your focus to pleasure.” She continued, "Try not to shame yourself. Our culture is pretty sex-obsessed, and there's a very strong narrative that you should want (and are having) sex all the time. In truth, your sex life has many seasons, and this is totally normal.”

    Next, something most people don’t consider is to look into your diet. Jaime Seeman, MD, an OB-GYN with Even, advised focusing on nutrient depletions. “One strategy I recommend is addressing the nutrient depletions of antidepressants that can help mitigate side effects such as sexual dysfunction," she told BuzzFeed. "Even creates supplements for people taking antidepressants, and it is something I recommend my patients try, as it contains nutrients shown in clinical studies to improve antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. This allows my patients to use the medication they need without compromising intimacy.”

    Finally, something I did, and something you can try if other options aren't working: Bring it up with your doctor.

    An image of pills on a blue background forming the shape of a sad face emoji
    Larry Washburn / Getty Images/fStop

    I brought it up by saying, "Hey, doc, the meds have been great. No more daily migraines and breakdowns. The only thing, however, is that I never want to have sex anymore." He assured me that if I wanted to, I could always find a new medication. However, I can honestly say I’d rather have a handle on my emotions and no migraines than go back to my horny self.

    So, what do I do now? I constantly communicate with my partner, as any healthy couple should. But we experiment with my low libido. By that I mean, we try out different techniques. For a while, we would set aside the days of the weeks that we wanted to fool around. However, that's not how life works, and other things would come up. A couple of weeks would go by, and we wouldn't have sex. This bothered me a lot. I wanted to please him — and please myself.

    Even after taking vitamins, scheduling time together, and all that, nothing changed. But we eventually did find something. Instead of doing the scheduled days, we decided to set a "sex quota." Odd phrasing, but stand by. We make weekly goals for work, personal, hobbies — but we also added one for sex. 

    One week, we agree that we want to try anal; the next, we want to try to have sex every day of the week; and so on. It's like a weekly sex challenge, and honestly? It's so much fun, and it's made me more spontaneous again. It's made me feel as if my libido has come back in its own way and on its own terms.

    And in case you're wondering, I'm still dating that former coworker.

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