Neutered Britain: Sex and Drugs

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
May 14, 2019 | 31 Comments


  1. A Real-World Study on Antidepressant-Associated Sexual Dysfunction in 2144 Outpatients: The SALSEX I Study. Archives of Sexual Behavior – April 2019.
    “Overall, 79% patients showed sexual dysfunction, as indicated by a total score ≥ 3 on the PRSexDQ-SALSEX; 64% showed moderate–severe sexual dysfunction, with no differences between men and women on these outcomes. … In conclusion, our results indicate that despite being a well-known, long-standing side effect of antidepressants, sexual dysfunction continues to be extremely common in patients receiving antidepressants, especially serotonergic ones” and these findings despite “Conflict of interest
    A-LM (lead author) has been a consultant for, received grant/research support and honoraria from and been on the speakers/advisory board of Eli Lilly, Forum Pharmaceuticals, Rovi, Servier, Shyre, Lundbeck, Otsuka, Janssen, Pfizer and Roche. FR-V has received honoraria for consultancy, providing educational sessions and/or providing medical writing services for Almirall, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Janssen, Lundbeck, Otsuka and Pfizer. …”

  2. Mum took me to see No Sex Please, We’re British on the London stage.

    This was quite surprising to me as sex was a word that never came forth from my mother’s mouth.
    No sex talks for me from mum or dad. Do your parents actually have sex, ugh!

    How had she even heard of this play, she liked musicals like South Pacific, Sound of Music.
    Did she have a racy side?

    This was the first and last time, that we experienced a sexual ‘encounter’ …

    No Sex Please, We’re British is a British farce written by Alistair Foot and Anthony Marriott, which premiered in London’s West End on 3 June 1971.[1] It was unanimously panned by critics, but played to full houses until 1987 at three theatres (the Strand, the Garrick and the Duchess), totalling 6,761 performances. It did not share the same success with American audiences, running for only 16 performances on Broadway in early 1973.

    Living in America for a while, Americans are more prudish than the Brits?

    The farce surrounds an assistant bank manager, Peter Hunter, who lives in a flat above his bank with his new bride Frances. When Frances innocently sends a mail order off for some Scandinavian glassware, what comes back is Scandinavian pornography. The two, along with the bank’s frantic chief cashier Brian Runnicles, must decide what to do with the veritable floods of pornography, photographs, books, films and eventually girls that threaten to engulf this happy couple. The matter is considerably complicated by the presence of Eleanor (Peter’s mother), Mr. Bromhead (his boss), Mr. Needham (a visiting bank inspector) and Vernon Paul (a police superintendent).

    No drugs in the Kama Sutra?

    Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

    In Bonk, the best-selling author of Stiff turns her outrageous curiosity and insight on the most alluring scientific subject of all: sex. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Why doesn’t Viagra help women-or, for that matter, pandas? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Mary Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm-two of the most complex, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth-can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to make the bedroom a more satisfying place.

    Is it?

    • Looks like the “No Sex Please, We’re British” idea was picked up and given a modern twist, satirizing the Victorian contradictions, the cognitive dissonance, as well as the sexual and emotional shortcomings of contemporary Britannia —

  3. While we’re on the subject of sex … your old friend Ed Shorter wants us to check out his latest book, Stormy’s World, which will be out soon. The subject is porn, and its impact on our sexuality:

    When it comes to the decline in real-world sexual activity, Shorter seems to think porn is a major factor in its own right. Not just because of easy access, thanks to the internet, but because it shapes our preferences. Mainly in the direction of 1) kinky, taboo stuff and 2) show-biz physical perfection. Both of which can be hard to get from the gal or guy next door, leaving us less and less inclined to get excited by the Real Thing. Especially the young.

    Guess that could be true … but here, too, I think drugs could be playing a role. Online porn, like online everything else, seems designed to encourage compulsive use. And many of the drugs we take also propel us towards compulsive behavior. Stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin (not to mention Abilify) are the most obvious examples. But antidepressants are weird that way, too: they’re used to treat “OCD” in some people but seem to promote compulsive behavior in others. Then there’s that “emotional numbing” factor, which can lead users to chase more and more extreme images and stories, because the ordinary stuff no longer moves them like it used to.

    Of course, this could also encourage binge-watching, binge-shopping, binge-gaming and other online activities that can interfere with Real Life. I’ve heard it said that binge-watching Netflix, etc. is a central part of home life these days for young couples. Lots of couch time, not much cuddling. Bleah. Drugs could be one reason why.

    • Jo

      Interesting thoughts – the one thing the BMJ research and other studies suggest is use of porn does not reduced real live sexual contact. This of course could be just another example of not blaming the X, Y or Z although in this case its harder to believe porn is an industry that keeps countries afloat.

      What is certainly the case is that people on SSRIs who have complete emotional numbing report going on snuff movie sites etc – anything in order to feel something. And there is definitely an interface between emotional numbing and sexual numbing found with PSSD. PSSD is worse than asexuality in this sense in that people with asexuality seem to be able to delight in things other than sex.


  4. James Moore Retweeted

    Dr. Peter Ansari‏ @DepressionHeute 9h

    Woher kommen die vielen sexuellen Störungen und Beziehungsprobleme unserer Zeit? @DrDavidHealy schreibt, könnte der wachsende Gebrauch von #Antidepressiva der Elefant im Raum sein?

    Nogracias Retweeted

    ICNS Instituto‏ @icnsInstituto

    ICNS Instituto Retweeted David Healy

    La disminución en el número de relaciones sexuales en los últimos años relacionada con el aumento del consumo de psicofármacos, particularmente antidepresivos.

    David Healy‏ @DrDavidHealy

    What’s behind the decline of sex in the UK? Rising use of antidepressants (and other drugs) could be the Elephant in the Room here … …

  5. Song of heartbreak by the Righteous Brothers:-

    You lost that lovin feeling, Whoa that lovin feeling, You lost that lovin feeling, Now it’s gone, gone, gone.

    You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips, And there’s no tenderness in your fingertips, Your trying hard not to show it, But baby I know it.

    Chorus – You lost that lovin feeling …

    Now there’s no welcome look in your eyes when I reach for you, And now you’re starting to citizise the things that I do, It makes me feel like crying, Cause baby something beautiful’s dying,

    Chorus .You lost that lovin feeling…..

    Baby, baby I would get down on my knees for you if you would only love me like you used to do, yeah, We had a love, a love you don’t find everyday, So don’t, don’t, don’t let it slip away.


    Baby, baby, baby, I beg you please ,please, please, I need your love, I need your love, I need your love,So bring it on back, bring it on back, Bring it on back, bring it on back, Bring back that lovin feeling, Whoa that lovin feeling, Cause it’s gone, gone gone, And I can’t go on.

    Chorus…Bring back that lovin feeling……cause it’s gone, gone, gone.

    • It should be possible to get someone to tweak a collection of songs to bring out the effect of meds and get them online and beyond infinity who knows where


    • I was in my friends car the other day, and “Sexual healing” came on the radio by Marvin Gaye. Within seconds it brought back all the anger about everything I have missed out on, in the last 12 years I have had PSSD. I used to like that song, and now I hate it.

      Every time I hear a song about love and sex (which most songs are about in one way or another), it feels like I have been punched in the stomach. It is very triggering for me.

      It is part of the reason I rarely listen to music anymore, along with the fact that the emotional numbing aspect of PSSD stops me being able to enjoy the emotional effects of music.

      I have hated every last decade, year, month, week, day, hour, minute and second of suffering PSSD.

      I genuinely hate it with a fully fledged passion.

      It is not the life I want at all.

      • Spruce, you have my full empathy here, again. The only approach I have been able to come up with is any sort of creative work still possible; and, in the words of Ken Keyes Jr, upleveling the “addiction” to the status of a preference.

        Of course, wanting to have a “normal” physical and emotional constitution is far from “addiction”; however, upleveling that want to a preference can lessen the secondary mental pain created by the physical and emotional injury.

        We have to make do with the weapons we have in our arsenal.

    • Gosh Susanne, talk about taking us back in time – I can see and hear the Righteous Brothers on Top of Pops as I read the words; oh! and their solemn faces as they sang it – couldn’t you just jump through the screen and cuddle them until they go over their ‘lost love’! Falling ‘in’ and ‘out’ of love is as old as time itself I guess – but this latest concern seems to go way beyond the natural pattern as we knew it. As far as I can see, it’s almost as if the sap of youth has stopped rising (if you get my drift!) and in its place has come …… what? more mental health problems in the young? more pressures to ‘succeed’ and then ‘fail’ to find a successful career? more time spent in solitary situations, gaming etc?
      Whilst all of the above are true – there has to be more. What else has changed? We suffered our ‘broken hearts’ with friends…..and swiftly moved on to find the next one who would probably end up putting us right back to square one! It was part of growing up in those days wasn’t it? I certainly can’t remember anyone turning up at their GP’s surgery for a prescription for a ‘broken heart’ can you?
      Today, youngsters are taken ( or take themselves) to their GP at the first sign of distress – and, as we know, far too many end up with a prescription for ADs.
      To my mind, this is bad in two ways – firstly, we all who read here,know about the side effects of ADs and they for sure are capable of ruining your whole being. They certainly won’t create a more ‘self-confident you’. Secondly, not being allowed to overcome mild distress by your own power, leaves you totally incapable of facing life’s inevitable knocks when they come along. Unless we are left, up to a point, to learn to deal with our emotions then surely our emotional growth will be sadly lacking?
      I guess that added to all of this we have families who communicate with each other less and less with the spoken word. Family meal times are non-existent in many cases; we hear of parents/children texting each other within the same house rather than speaking face to face. Unless we can come face to face with each other comfortably then surely building a relationship can sound quite daunting – if we cannot even speak to one another, we’re hardly equipped to do much else together are we!
      I have heard a good few parents talking lately too about the fear that their youngsters have- mainly boys in this instance – of being falsely accused of rape – even in relatively stable long-standing relationships. The comments there were along the lines of UK population decreasing if this ‘fear’ continues! In my younger days I have a feeling that ‘fear of rape’ or of anything else didn’t seem to exist in the minds of young lads!
      To come back to the seriousness of the topic, surely the increase of psychotropic drugs, especially in the young people must be partly to blame. Added to that, we know of the effect of such drugs on the bird population and toxicity levels in water etc. all of which, I assume, could be altering the ways of human behaviour too.

      • Hi Mary – Glad the song struck a chord with you! It’s bizarre that the words apply so well by now to the issue of loss of intimacy and sexual feelings due to prescription drugs . There were some horrendous cover ups back in the day of course , notably the thousands of trusting women who were prescribed highly addictive valium which had terrible withdrawal effects. That scandal resonates with what’s happening with ADs now although this has spread across the whole population. It’s a crime that younger people en masse especially are being duped into thinking they have a mental illness or serious depression rather than a problem to be dealt with – a diagnostic label on their record will colour the way they are perceived in future including by employers. However much they are encouraged to think it’s a brave new world where difference is celebrated – the evidence is that it’s a long way off. We don’t all live in a William and Harry world of celebs who can safely ‘shout out’. Societies have a way of flipping ideas of morals, values, whatever as shown by the way abortion laws in USA are being rewritten right now. The colleges and organisations which benefit from messages positioning almost the whole of society as in need of their ‘help’ might give a thought to the way it is all becoming so circular – the ‘helpers’ are now positioned as desperately needing help/therapy/support – where does it end.. A help your self to pills bucket provided by the life destroying guzzlers of pharmaceutical execs.

    • Great to see David managing to get the last word in this discussion too – stating clearly that the nature of the drug can cause the problems in well people. Therefore doing away with the “depression causes suicidal thoughts and actions” argument that was fast becoming far too prevalent!

      • You have it right Mary, David was really excellent in his argument, he was clear and firm and obviously knew he was putting the absolute and terrifying truth out there for all to see. For anyone who missed it, his final words, directed to Joanna Gosling, presenter, were that if he gave her RoAccutane isotretinoin, even her, she TOO had a chance of ending up with permanent sexual dysfunction. In other words, this horrible outcome, often well after stopping the drug, can affect ANYONE AT ALL. ‘it is not you, it is the drug’ was his very important message all through the programme. If our son Olly, (whose name was read out by Derek Jones in a list of those he knows have died after taking this drug) had known it was the drug and not him, officially, stated by a trusted and knowledgeable doctor, he’d probably be alive today. With his self esteem in tact and hope flowering. Thank you David for your impressive contribution which will doubtless have saved many from damage (maybe death) and explained such a lot to those confused by their situation well after stopping the drug.

  6. Goes without saying…

    …Derelie Mangin

    recovery&renewal Retweeted

    Dr Mark Porter‏ @drmarkporter

    Need help from the Twitter massive please. Planning a deprescribing special on Inside Health @BBCRadio4 and looking for hospital angle – ie. initiatives to prevent excessive polypharmacy, as well as reducing it. Is this up your street? Or do you know someone who could contribute?

    Enduring Sexual Dysfunction: 300 Cases

    May 4, 2018 | 56 Comments

  7. Rivaroxaban and other NOACs (blood thinners) are being heavily used and producing floods of reports of a range of serious problems – hemorrhage into every body orifice and cavity imaginable. Sexual issues are not likely to be top of anyone’s mind given the gravity of the problems being treated and the serious difficulties treatment can cause. But this doesn’t mean sexual difficulties aren’t happening.

    David, as you know, sex is a major taboo per se, and sexual dysfunctions, especially for men, are 1000 times the sex taboo. That means that very few people will consider submitting side-effect reports in pharmacovigilance databases (even if we suppose that a very small fraction of them may know that they can, or they should, report these side effects and the particulars of the process).

    Also, the doctors they would have visited would have been totally negative as to this possibility (“since this side effect is not listed in the patient information leaflet then it does not happen, the pharma companies list ALL side effects there for fear of lawsuits” as one very ignorant urologist told me). Or the patients would have been, hmm, not so young, i.e. over 50, as the case commonly is with deep vein thrombosis and heart issues, and the doctors would have no difficulty assuming some other cause (despite the patients never having had any sexual issues before the drug).

    Then, another doctor would suggest that the problem is psychological, “go get some therapy, it really helps”, as I was told by an endocrinologist.

    It is obvious that one needs to be pretty self-confident and knowledgeable about his body and how it is affected, as well as intrepid, in order to make the small step of… reporting it. And then again, the feedback from the pharmacovigilance authority would be something like “if you have a side effect which is not listed in the patient information leaflet then just consult your doctor for that side effect”. When I told them that the doctors do not have a clue, the reply was a resounding silence. There is no authority structured in a way to handle appropriately such issues and help sufferers. Patients are left in a state akin to inmates of concentration camps, pining away for the crime of having been prescribed a poison which was served in the guise of an expensive cure.

  8. ambrosia the food of the gods;

    Fiona French Retweeted

    Alyne Duthie‏ @alyne_duthie 48m … A horror-movie version on A/Ds – “a startling satirical view of the age of psychopharmacological drugs.” “ may be a horror movie…is the ideal way to present the argument that we’ve become a society of people too artificially addicted to well being”

    Cannes Film Review: ‘Little Joe’

    Jessica Hausner’s artfully unnerving horror movie about a sinister flower is an ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ for the age of antidepressants.

    Keeping her camera moving with slow-glide voyeurism, she turns those plants into disquieting “creatures” even when they’re just sitting there being their innocent selves.

    This is Goooood …

  9. In what was supposed to be a more innocent /prudish era – read – hypocritical- where sex on film was taboo – (1950’s )Marilyn Monroe was an actress explicitly used as a sex object ‘sex symbol’ including to titilate the then president of singing to him in a sexual way at his birthday celebration.
    She died while severely depressed
    ‘Marilyn Monroe and the Prescription Drugs that Killed Her’ PBS Newshour.

  10. PLANT of the Year …

    Thrilling for Chelsea; but, even more, thrilling for Wales

    Simon Wessely‏ @WesselyS 4h

    First ever visit to #RHSChelsea. Am here to talk about nature, gardens and #mentalhealth. But first congratulations to the Chelsea Plant of the Year. Very well deserved.

    Accept 9/10 FOR WALES

    PAST (Prescription Awareness & Support Team) Wales‏ @PastWales 20m

    PAST (Prescription Awareness & Support Team) Wales Retweeted Fiona French

    Hopefully in #Wales at least this will cease to be the norm sooner rather than later..with 9/10 recommendations accepted in Stevie Lewis’s petition…

    PAST (Prescription Awareness & Support Team) Wales‏ @PastWales 57m

    Recommendation 2.  The Welsh Government should confirm and explain its position on whether SSRI and SNRI antidepressants should be formally recognised as potentially leading to problems of dependence and withdrawal. 

    Response: Accept

    recovery&renewal Retweeted

    PAST (Prescription Awareness & Support Team) Wales‏ @PastWales 2h

    Massive congratulations to Stevie Lewis on her successful petition to the Welsh Gov about #PrescribedHarm #InformedConsent .. they will take on 9/10 recommendations she put forward @Fiddaman @aki @Mad_In_America @MITUKteam @recover2renew @PsychRecovery @alyne_duthie

    A massive ‘spurt in the undergrowth’ for Wales …

    • Annie, My spies tell me Simon W is the plant – sent there by the college to sprinkle his ‘charm’ amongst the marquees. 70 million prescriptions for ADs – horrendous side effects? – no problem, cheers!
      What I don’t really understand is how many actual people are given a prescription? How does the 70 million prescriptions break down? On R4 5 oclock news two days ago a GP described that people are staying on them for 20 years, he knew one man who was on them for 21years and is still depressed.In his area (Plymouth) 81% of the population had been given a prescription for depression at some point.. For the last 30 years the rate of prescribing ADs had doubled every 10 years. College of gp’s stated gp’s will only prescribe them after careful consideration’.
      Stevie and others continue to publish the truth in thebmj this week.
      Hopefully Vaughan Gethin Health minster will realise that he and his team can’t cover things up any longer Yet another scandal has resulted in calls for his resignation in Merthyr where preganant women are refusing to be admitted to Prince Charles hospital which has been found to be unsafe and yet again people in vulnerable positions have been bullied and not listened to. G V was the youngest leader of the TUC some years ago ,his mind set is to protect members . Stevie has had trouble getting the message through to him and his team The one thing he is reluctant to do is collate data from different areas – possible what makes him nervous is that this would show up different practices by name. If he takes on board the other principles which have been accepted this could be dealt with by proper training and investment in, as she suggest, having experts in mental health prescribing attached to sugeries.
      Just by the way – why don’t we ever hear from presidents of the colleges of psychs in Wales, Scotland or Ireland ?

  11. Those of us fed the chemical imbalance crap, saw no reason to challenge our long term depression pill prescribing, not that there were any meds reviews, we just ingested the pills month in, month out, year in year out. 2004 I was prescribed sertraline, it was not until 2015,when I decided to try and give up taking benzos that I realised the notion of a a chemical imbalance could be challenged.

    I had not ever lost my libido on benzos….but within weeks of taking sertraline I lost interest in anything to do with sex. At first I wondered if it was busy lifestyle, stress etc.

    Upon consulting my GP, It was suggested my partner and I see a sex therapist….and I would be checked out at a endocrine clinic.
    The Couples Counsellor recommended…Date nights, lots of foreplay sex toys etc.

    Now I had been enjoying sex for over 20 years … was humiliating for both of us to see and feel the lack of response to ‘The rampant rabbit’ The UKs number one vibrator…promoted by ‘The Sex in the City Girls’ or feeling utterly numb as my partner tried to pleasure me in a totally female centred way…..If you get my drift.

    At this point I had not made the connection to the sertraline ( I was on 200mg ).

    I felt suicidal…..WTF was wrong with MY BODY…The sex therapist was busy saying The mind is at the centre of sexual arousal. I loved my partner and found him extremely attractive……15 years later I still do. No amount of fantasizing, dressing up, even watching porn made any difference.

    I became Asexual which was devastating for both of us.

    My partner could not win…make advances I would turn away, not make advances I would think he did not find me attractive.

    My Karaoke song became Abba’s ‘ Gimme, Gimme ,Gimme a man after midnight, won’t somebody help me chase the shadows away………There’s not a soul out there, no-one to hear my prayer……..

    One night I accepted a lift home from an acquaintance……..It was easy to say NO, yet in Court it became an issue of consent.

    As part of the Character assignation I was asked by his defence If quote ‘I was on drugs’ I replied No thinking they meant illegal ones. So they ask me again, and again I said No. Then they said so what is Sertraline, diazepam and tramadol ? I tried to say ‘But they are prescription drugs…..They repeated were you on drugs yes or no? So I said yes….I have no idea how they accessed my medical records….although my medical records would also have said I was suffering from sexual dysfunction. The Judge in his summing up reminded the jury I had lied under oath about ‘taking drugs’.

    This trial was so hard for my partner and me. The guy was let off. it was presumed I had consented to sex…( This was in 2010 ) oh the Irony……….

    My partner has stood by me and stayed with me he too has been seriously affected by the serious sexual dysfunction provoked by Sertraline.

    Having come off benzos, after a 2 year taper, I am 18 months down the line, still in protracted withdrawal. I am finally trying to taper my depression pill. Ever so slowly.
    After 18 years of dysfunction I am not sadly expecting much when I come off.

    Although coming, after coming off would be a marvellous result………..

  12. Contributions can range from 10 to 10,000 words. Graphics welcome. Publication aimed for 2020

    Is there a deadline for submission? Colour graphics allowed?

    Just an idea, this book could be supported with a dedicated website/blog with extra material about the medications/conditions/cases referred to by the book as well as contributor bios/case histories/videos, etc.

    I am guessing there will be some sort of introduction also.

    • Spiros

      No deadline. Colour Graphics – Yes. Re website support – Yes. Introduction – we can certainly think of it – or perhaps Extraduction


  13. Sex and Drugs – and No Rock’n’Roll
    There’s a few different versions of ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’
    I think the the one which best expresses the theme is by ‘Tank’ (2011) and has the best video
    but to include gay people there is one by George Michael.
    All on You Tube

  14. Yes! Writing was my pathway to feeling, and remembering, and forgetting the terror of letting some idiot doctor and lexapro/citalopram/prozac/what-ever-else-I-got switched-to-every-few-months try to possibly help with my most complex, and normal, feelings as a 22 year old. Actually, when I think about it, antidepressant medication felt similar to taking the Eucharist. No offence if you’re reading this and are a practicing Catholic (I am obviously no longer!) but the repetition of taking it, and the literality of the pill, turning feelings and a psychological state into your own flesh. It is just another way of fucking, but a very repressed way where we think the prescribing doctor has nothing to do with the process.

    Thank-you David, I admire your work. I think you should put out an ‘open call’, I’ll send something for sure.

  15. Yes Lauren Writing is cathartic……Dr Healy I think this is an excellent idea…..I am sure someone who is good at graphics could illustrate eg The above…….It still remains difficult to talk about sex…..especially if you are suffering from dysfunction but we need to stop feeling the shame, the humiliation……..We also need to feel safe to tell our stories…….We also need a black sense of humour……Thank you Dr Healy for getting the ball rolling…………

  16. You put your finger on what especially forced medications can feel like Laurie – repulsive, abusive invasions akin to rape. And the consequent fear of the consequences of abusive medi-fucks – alteration not only to the physical self but personality which has to be painfully regained when (hopefully) free of ‘the idiots’,
    Obviously I’m not advocating anyone should actually take revenge on those who abuse their power and position but here’s a great REVENGE!! quote taken out of context from a book I haven’t read (described as brutal but suitable for young adults) called ‘The bruised Heart’ ‘You broke it. You didn’t fix it. So now you pay for it!’ I used to think gaining justice would be good enough , but probably there is often at least a sliver of revenge incorporated into the justice – but also where no justice is given phantasies can range from a sliver to a rage to an actual acting out -especially if the rage is ramped up by drugs. .

  17. I took sertraline for little over 12 months. It had no positive effects what so ever so i decided to come off.Sadly over one year on i am suffering from the ongoing mental and sexual results.

Leave a Reply to Spiros