Does citalopram affect your sex drive? (3+ factors)

In this article, we will discuss whether citalopram affects sex drive, what research suggests, what factors contribute to citalopram’s effect on sex drive, how citalopram affects sex drive, and what to do if citalopram is affecting sex drive.

Does citalopram affect your sex drive?

Yes, Citalopram may affect sex drive in some individuals. Citalopram, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, is known for its efficacy in treating mood disorders; one potential side effect is its impact on sex drive. (1)

However, individual effects may vary. What affects one person may not affect another. So, it’s crucial to talk to your healthcare provider regarding any symptoms that you are experiencing while taking this drug.

How does citalopram affect sex drive?

Citalopram affects sex drive through its influence on neurotransmitters in the brain. Increased serotonin levels can affect other neurotransmitters and hormones, such as dopamine and testosterone, which are associated with pleasure and arousal. (4)

This imbalance may result in diminished sexual desire and performance.

What does research suggest?

Research suggests that citalopram, like other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can influence sex drive. SSRIs are a class of antidepressants that increase the levels of serotonin in the brain and, as a result, regulate our emotions.

A study published in the Journal of International Clinical Psychopharmacology in 2015 found that SSRIs, including citalopram, were associated with a risk of sexual dysfunction. The most commonly reported sexual side effects include decreased libido, delayed orgasm, and difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection. (2)

Another analysis received 2815 adverse reaction reports related to sexual dysfunction, out of which SSRIs induced 17.58%. (3) 

What is the incidence of sexual side effects from citalopram?

2% of patients taking citalopram reported sexual-related side effects in clinical trials. The incidence of abnormal ejaculation, low sex drive, and impotence in males is 6.1%, 3.8%, and 2.8%, respectively.

In females, 1.3% experienced low sex drive, and 1.1% experienced an inability to orgasm.

What are the factors contributing to citalopram’s effect on sex drive?

Several factors contribute to the impact of citalopram on sex drive. The primary mechanism is believed to be the increase in serotonin levels, which may interfere with the normal sexual response. Other factors influencing the likelihood and severity of sexual side effects include:

  • Dosage of citalopram: Citalopram’s effect on sex drive is dose-dependent, so talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any symptoms, as reducing the dose can mitigate the unwanted side effects. (5)


  • Individual variations in drug metabolism: Individual variations can also play a role in how citalopram can affect certain individuals, causing sexual side effects.


  • Pre-existing sexual dysfunction: If you are already suffering from pre-existing sexual dysfunction, treatment with citalopram may worsen your condition.


  • Psychological factors: Psychological issues like depression and anxiety can also contribute to low sex drive or an inability to perform sexually.


  • Drug Interactions: Citalopram can interact with other medications, potentially amplifying or mitigating its effects on sex drive. To assess potential interactions, it’s essential to inform healthcare providers about all medications, including over-the-counter and herbal supplements.


  • Hormonal Factors: While citalopram primarily affects neurotransmitters in the brain, some evidence suggests that SSRIs may influence hormone levels, including those related to sexual function. Hormonal fluctuations can play a role in sexual desire and function.


  • Age and Gender: Age and gender can also play a role in how citalopram affects sex drive. Older individuals and females, in particular, may be more prone to certain sexual side effects.

What to do if citalopram is affecting your sex drive?

If citalopram is affecting your sex drive, you can do the following:

  • Communicate with your healthcare provider: If you are experiencing changes in your sex drive while taking citalopram, it’s crucial to communicate openly with your healthcare provider. They can help assess the severity of the issue and make potential adjustments to your treatment plan.


  • Dosage adjustment: Your healthcare provider may consider adjusting the dosage of citalopram to reduce the side effects. Not making any changes to your medication regimen without consulting a healthcare professional is essential.


  • Alternative antidepressants: Other than citalopram, the drugs with a favorable profile of sexual side effects include bupropion, vilazodone, mirtazapine, vortioxetine, and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.


What are the non-pharmacologic ways to help with sexual side effects?

These are some of the non-pharmacologic ways to help with sexual side effects:

  • Counseling and therapy: Therapy or counseling may be recommended to address the psychological aspects of sexual dysfunction in some cases. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or sex therapy can be beneficial in managing the symptoms.


  • Use of saffron: Using saffron can be aphrodisiac. The exact mechanism of this effect is not known, but some studies suggest that saffron increases serotonin in the body and affects nitric oxide levels, which is crucial for maintaining an erection. It has also been observed that it works similarly to SSRIs, so it may also help to reduce depression and anxiety. (4)


  • Lifestyle changes: Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management, can contribute to overall well-being and potentially mitigate some of the sexual side effects associated with citalopram.


According to my knowledge of the topic, citalopram has proven efficacious in treating depression and anxiety. Understanding the potential effects on sex drive, communicating with healthcare providers, and exploring appropriate interventions are crucial steps in managing these side effects.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!



Celexa, prescribing information by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration,,021046s019lbl.pdf


Clayton AH, Gommoll C, Chen D, Nunez R, Mathews M. Sexual dysfunction during treatment of major depressive disorder with vilazodone, citalopram, or placebo: results from a phase IV clinical trial. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2015 Jul;30(4):216-23. doi: 10.1097/YIC.0000000000000075. PMID: 26039688; PMCID: PMC4457500.


Valeiro C, Matos C, Scholl J, van Hunsel F. Drug-Induced Sexual Dysfunction: An Analysis of Reports to a National Pharmacovigilance Database. Drug Saf. 2022 Jun;45(6):639-650. doi: 10.1007/s40264-022-01174-3. Epub 2022 Apr 7. PMID: 35386045.


Jing, E., & Straw-Wilson, K. (2016). Sexual dysfunction in selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and potential solutions: A narrative literature review. The Mental Health Clinician, 6(4), 191-196.


Sharbaf Shoar N, Fariba KA, Padhy RK. Citalopram. [Updated 2021 Dec 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:

Find a supportive therapist who can help with Depression.

Discover the convenience of BetterHelp, an online therapy platform connecting you with licensed and accredited therapists specialized in addressing issues such as depression, anxiety, relationships, and more. Complete the assessment and find your ideal therapist within just 48 hours.


AskYourPharm is user-supported. We may earn a commission if you sign up for BetterHelp’s services after clicking through from this site