ASK CHANTELLE: My medication has destroyed my sex drive. Is there any way to get it back?

Mamamia's Ask Chantelle series is a pervy Q&A session with Psycho-Sexologist Chantelle Otten. Think about all the sex questions you've wanted answers for, but have been too shy to ask. Nothing is too embarrassing, kinky or wild for Chantelle. Honestly, we've all probably wondered the same thing too. This week, one woman wants to know how she can get her libido back. And, if you have a sex question you want answered, email submissions@mamamia.com.au with Ask Chantelle in the subject line.

So I have recently started taking an anti-anxiety medication, and whilst it has helped me in my day to day life and overall happiness levels it has totally knocked out my libido, sensitivity and general horniness. If I was single I wouldn't care, but I am in a long-term relationship with an amazing person who has a wonderful sex drive. How do I balance this? They are so supportive of me taking the medication, but I am worried that over time it will damage our relationship. What do I do?

Okay! Your happiness should not cost you your sex life. But yes, for SOME (and not everyone), sexual problems can happen with SSRIs (a type of antidepressant medication often used to help manage anxiety). SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) can affect orgasm and libido. A lot of people tend to ditch the antidepressants because of this, but I am begging you not to. There are ways of getting around this and take you from a place of sexual frustration to erotic bliss.

Watch: How to have better sex. Post continues below.

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First things first, it’s good to assess if it is actually the antidepressant that is causing the low sex drive or anorgasmia (lack of orgasm). 

This is something that I can help you out with because my job as a sexologist is to really be a detective into your sex drive. Because it may be that you are having difficulties with your self-esteem, are overly stressed, relational or financial difficulties or work stress, so I like to remind people that all of these can impact on our sexual prowess. 

Let me give you an overview of what happens on SSRIs. 

Serotonin is produced primarily in the gastrointestinal tract (so yes, you do need a high diet of good foods, healthy fats, nuts, veggies, protein to be happy), and a little bit in the brain. 

For those with depression, their serotonin levels ten to be low. Low serotonin in the brain can cause depressed mood, low energy, negative thoughts and feelings of tension and irritability. 

In order to increase serotonin levels, people with depression or anxiety are often treated with SSRIs. SSRIs work by not producing more serotonin, but decreasing their reabsorption into the body, so more serotonin stays in the nervous system. 


Increased serotonin levels often result in lower libido, and even though SSRIs improve depression, they do not improve libido. However, depression in itself will often result in lower libido. 

Now, how do we fix your dilemma? 

My thoughts are:

1. Move ya body.

You need to dance. You need to feel yourself. You need to engage in fun, sexy moves to make you go "hell yeah, I am hot AF and I own this amazing sexy body." You are tuning into your own sexual self-esteem. If you think about sexuality, there are an entanglement of senses being engaged. 

You don’t have to choose between good sex and medication. You just need to be very aware of how to engage in yourself. 

Tap into your five senses: sight, smell, touch, sound and taste, what is the most erotic to you? Tune in to the sensations you enjoy in your body when you are feeling good. Move your body erotically and get comfortable with the way that you look and feel. You are engaging in sound (listing to music that turns you on), sight (your body in the mirror), maybe smell (I find cologne arousing) and touch (your skin on your skin). It’s you spending time on your own pleasure. 

2. Accept the new normal. 

Sex is not going to look the same your entire life, in fact different stages will change the way you are able to embrace sexuality, and this is just one of those stages. 


Essentially, I encourage you to find acceptance for your new normal, and look at it in a different way, as an opportunity to explore new avenues to find pleasure.

3. Touch your body, or allow your sexual partner touch your body, and it will often result in responsive desire. 

In other words, as you become aroused (your body starts getting turned on) your mind will follow (desire). Hence why dancing works so well; your body is getting turned on and your mind is following. So get hot and heavy and then decide if you are going to allow yourself to continue forward with your erotic experience. 

An increase in serotonin levels means that your body automatically will produce less of a hormone called dopamine, which is essential for psychological sexual desire. It will also decrease your levels of nitric acid which are needed to relax the blood vessels and muscle tissue that provide blood to the sexual organs for physiological sexual arousal and sensation. 

To naturally raise your dopamine, eat foods that are naturally high in dopamine such as dark chocolate, omega-3 rich fish like salmon and mackerel, almonds and walnuts. Exercise also raises dopamine and increases testosterone which is important for sexuality. 


New stimulation is imperative! Vibrators bring blood flow to the genitals, and this increases sensation and climax. You can also hold a vibrator on the shaft of a penis. Remembering that desire can be triggered by physical stimulation. I always buy mine from Lovehoney.

5. Listen to audio porn, on apps like TryQuinn and Dipsea.

Getting turned on by the story and the use of your imagination can help find that dopamine hit, and can allow you to explore your fantasies. 


Create your own erotic fiction, by writing down your fantasies and finding ones that your body responds to.

6. Be patient!

You don’t have to orgasm to have a great time! Have sex for pleasure, for connection for fun. Orgasms are like happiness, the more you chase them the further they get away from you. Focus on the journey and not the destination.

If you still find you need help, seek therapy. Book a session with me!

Read more of Ask Chantelle:

Chantelle Otten is Australia’s leading Psycho-Sexologist who is passionate about empowering people to feel great about their sexual health, self-esteem, communication and education. With a background in scientific research, sexual medicine, and counselling, she believes that sexuality and self-esteem are an integral part of life, which everyone is entitled to. Good sexual health should always be enjoyable, pain free and without prejudice.

Chantelle is the director of the Australian Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine, where she and her team of sexologists work to positively change the sexual lives of the Australian’s, also using her social media to spread sexual empowerment to all. You can find her on Instagram here

This article was originally published in July 2020, and has since been updated.