For years, the biggest complaint people had about Prozac, Paxil, and other SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) was that they made sex awful. Men and women both complained of lowered libidos. Men who still had libidos frequently said they couldn't get it up. And of those men who could get it up, there were many who, despite their best efforts, couldn't ejaculate.
Still, some people on SSRIs managed to have sex. They even managed to get pregnant. But of those that did, some found out that there was another side effect they didn't know about: birth defects. Bad birth defects. So bad that the FDA issued a warning that pregnant women taking Paxil risked giving birth to babies with holes in their hearts and other abnormalities. Read: Desperate To Have A Baby, We Tried Everything
It seemed bad. But not bad if you were one of those lucky men who could take SSRIs and still get an erection. And so those men continued to take SSRIs and have sex. And in some cases, even tried to have kids. But it turns out that they may be in for a shock as well.
As it so happens, SSRIs don't just mess with women who are pregnant. They also mess with men who are trying to get them that way. Read: My Wife Was Fertile—I Wasn't
A new study published in the online edition of Fertility and Sterility has concluded that half of men taking SSRIs could have damaged sperm and compromised fertility.
The study, conducted by the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center, followed 35 healthy male volunteers who took paroxetine (Paxil) for five weeks. At the end of the five weeks, sperm samples were taken from the men and examined to determine whether there were any missing pieces of genetic code in the DNA. Their findings? That the percentage of men with abnormal DNA fragmentation jumped from less than 10 percent at the beginning of the study to 50 percent afterwards.
Our conclusion? That if you're on SSRIs and want to procreate, you'd best talk to your doctor—whether you're a man or a woman. Because, as unbelievable as it might seem now, there are far worse things to contend with than a low libido and semi-erect penis.