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How to enjoy sex if anti-depressants have killed your libido

Medication can inhibit desire – here are some tips for bringing sexy back

Antidepressants can be life-saving. They can stop you wobbling for just long enough so that you can stop a few brain leaks and learn how to cope going forward. They can stabilize your mood and keep suicidal or harmful thoughts at bay. Listen, I could VERY easily explain the Science of them, which I definitely understand, but it would be Too Smart and would make you feel bad. All you need to know is, they do some shit and some shit happens and sometimes they work really well and sometimes they don’t work at all. In both cases, though, they can have some fun side-effects, like excessive yawning or itchy hands or feeling like you never want to bonk ever again in your entire life. Very fun and cool, right? So what are you supposed to do when your medication is making you bored of making love?

DON’T FUCK ANYONE WHO’S UNSYMPATHETIC

This might seem like you’re bidding farewell to all casual sexual encounters, and maybe that’s sort of the deal. But if the person you’re shagging can’t access some truly basic compassion and meet you where you’re at? Yeah, it’s a hard no from us all. Because when your sex drive goes a bit haywire you need patience and understanding. Never shame, never frustration and never ever pressure.

GO SOLO

You need to figure out what new limits your body has, how long things take, what extra measures you need to get yourself going. So do your own research. Get up close and problem with the problem. Investigate. What I’m saying here is: have a wank. Have several. Weave it into your morning or evening routine, or at least vow to do it at least twice or three times a week. It’s for science.

GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS

Often antidepressants can inhibit desire, but your bodily responses remain the same. It could be that you’re just not having sex because the idea of getting started seems boring and unappealing. This is where putting your mind to the job and trying to have sex can help. You might find that once you push through the early indifference and get aroused, everything else works pretty much the same.

UP THE ANTE

If you’ve been going at it the old-fashioned way, or following the pattern that used to work before you started taking your medication, then you may need to get some new technology in the mix. Get a vibrator. Get two. Get a box of vibrators so big that the government puts you on a watch-list. Get a ridiculous medley of lubricants. A wand that rotates and lights up and sings “Toxic” by Britney.

“Get a vibrator. Get two. Get a box of vibrators so big that the government puts you on a watch-list”

GET SPECIFIC ABOUT THE PROBLEM

Is your sex drive there but you’re finding it almost impossible to orgasm? Are you struggling to maintain your interest once you get into it? Is your dick refusing to work for more than twelve minutes? No natural lubrication even when you feel mentally turned on? Listen, I know these are awkward things to talk out loud about, I’m not asking you to call your grandma up and hash it out. But figuring it out within the safe and sticky confines of your own brain is important. Give the problem a name and then figure out how to defeat it.

TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR

This isn’t a superficial problem and you’re allowed to be frustrated about it. Adjusting your dose can help matters, as can changing the time of day that you pop the pill, or even taking a small medication holiday to try and stimulate libido for a short period. But make sure you talk to a professional first – and don’t ever go cold turkey on your medication before speaking to someone. I did it once and thought I saw Mr. Blobby sitting at the end of my bed. Not a fun or sexy time.

CHANGE YOUR VARIABLES

If before bed doesn’t seem to work anymore – try some morning sex, or get to it mid-afternoon on a Sunday while Songs of Praise is on. Or if the idea of spontaneous and unplanned sex fills you with dread then decide a time and day when you’ll give things a whirl. This might give you time to prepare and get into the right frame of mind. Maybe try taking it out of the bedroom entirely – have a shag on the sofa or in the spare room. Put up a wigwam in the garden and bang it out in nature.

REMEMBER THAT THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU

Repeat this as often as necessary, because it’s a very important point. You’re not defective. You’re not broken. You’re treating a very common illness and the treatment is causing some very common side effects. That’s all that’s happening here. And you’re also not alone. So many couples go through this. It’s easy to imagine that everyone else is living their perfect lives, having perfect smug shags and then going to hot yoga – BUT THEY AREN’T. This is normal and you are normal and everything’s going to be totally fine.

“It’s easy to imagine that everyone else is living their perfect lives, having perfect smug shags and then going to hot yoga”

PRACTICE CLOSENESS AND INTIMACY WITHOUT SEX

Take a shower or bath together. Do some PG under-the-shirt stuff. Put on some tiny pants and make out like teenagers. Go on dates. Sit close together whilst you’re doing your own thing, whether that’s reading a book or knitting a smock. Feeling connection and trust with someone means that you’re less hesitant to try new things, you feel under less pressure to be perfect and you’re more relaxed doing the whole sex thing.

TRY HORNY GOAT WEED (SERIOUSLY)

Apparently garlic stimulates blood flow which can help sexual performance. Same goes for Horny Goat Weed, which is hilarious and I think you should get some anyway just so you can laugh and laugh and laugh. Because although nature is disgusting, it seems to know some stuff.

COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR PARTNER

They need to understand what’s going on if they’re going to help. You’re not less attracted to them, you’re not less excited about being with them, you’re just lacking in libido because of your medication and your illness. Share as much as you feel comfortable sharing. Let them know what you’re struggling with, what potential remedies there are, how they can help, what you’re feeling sensitive or embarrassed about, and that you need some patience and understanding.