Comparative sexual side effects of bupropion, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline

Academic Article


  • Objective: To investigate patient reported prosexual side effects of the aminoketone antidepressant bupropion (INN, amfebutamone) and to compare directly the sexual side effects of bupropion and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline. Methods: One hundred seven psychiatric outpatient respondents receiving current treatment with one of the above antidepressants anonymously completed questionnaires that allowed reporting of both decreases and increases in sexual function. The main outcome measures were antidepressant-associated changes in libido, arousal, duration of time from arousal to orgasm, intensity of orgasm, and duration of orgasm relative to that experienced before the onset of the patients' psychiatric illnesses. Results: Bupropion-treated patients reported significant increases in libido, level of arousal, intensity of orgasm, and duration of orgasm beyond levels experienced premorbidly. The three SSRIs to an equal degree significantly decreased libido, arousal, duration of orgasm, and intensity of orgasm below levels experienced premorbidly. Overall, 27% of the SSRI-treated patients had no adverse sexual side effects; in contrast, 86% of patients treated with bupropion had no adverse sexual effects, and 77% of bupropion-treated patients reported at least one aspect of heightened sexual functioning. Conclusions: SSRI-induced adverse sexual effects appear to be the rule rather than the exception and may be substantially underreported unless patients are specifically asked about the effects of these medications on various aspects of sexual function. In contrast, prosexual effects were reported by the majority of patients treated with bupropion. The findings are reviewed in light of the neurochemistry of these agents and the sexual response.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Modell JG; Katholi CR; Modell JD; DePalma RL
  • Start Page

  • 476
  • End Page

  • 487
  • Volume

  • 61
  • Issue

  • 4