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5/28/99

Anti-Depressant Drug Zoloft Not For Lovers

In the first placebo-controlled comparison of these two drugs, patients taking sertraline (marketed as Zoloft(R) by Pfizer, Inc.) reported greater orgasm dysfunction than patients taking bupropion SR (marketed as Wellbutrin by Glaxo Wellcome Inc.) or a placebo.

A study in the current issue of the journal Clinical Therapeutics demonstrates that while two commonly prescribed medications for depression are equally effective in treating the symptoms of depression, Zoloft causes a significantly higher rate of orgasm dysfunction (lack or delayed orgasm) than either the other drug or placebo.

More patients taking sertraline reported orgasm dysfunction after only one week of treatment compared with bupropion SR or placebo. At the end of the study, 41 percent of patients taking Zoloft reported orgasm dysfunction. There was no statistically significant difference between Wellburtin and the placebo. Researchers suggest that the serotonin effect of SSRIs like Zoloft may create sexual function problems. Wellbutrin is not an SSRI and has no appreciable effect on serotoniin levels. The study was financed by the makers of Wellbrutin.

"While doctors have known about the anti-sexual side effects of some antidepressants, many don't realize the prevalence of the problem," said R Taylor Segraves, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at MetroHealth Medical Center, and one of the study's investigators.

In the study, 355 patients with moderate to severe clinical depression were randomly selected to bupropion (Wellbutrin) or SR, sertraline (Zoloft) or a placebo in this double-blind, placebo-controlled eight-week trial. Each of the three treatment arms included similar numbers of men and women.

"One reason adverse sexual side effects have been under-reported is that patients, unaware that the medication may be causing the problem, blame themselves or their partner for the problem and they don't talk to their doctor about it," said a researcher on the project. "At the same time, doctors may be reluctant to bring up sexual functioning with their patients. Open communication about side effects is critical to successful antidepressant treatment."

Alternative medicine's answer to synthetic drugs like Zoloft and Wellbutrin can be found in herbs like St. John's Wort with clinically proven anti-depressant properties. These herbs and supplelements do not induce impotence or create other negative side effects. For information on flower essences that fight depression, see our feature on it in Prescribing for Yourself


Male Cyclists Suffer High Rates of Impotence

An alarming number of competitive male cyclists suffer from impotence, according to German study. However, one of the researchers has provided reassurance to recreational Bikers. Udo Engelmann, MD, told the 94th scientific meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) yesterday that he and co-researcher Ulrich Schwarzer, MD, both from the University of Cologne, found that 13 percent of 1,800 competitive male cyclists from bicycle clubs in Cologne, Germany,suffered from impotence. The problem -- apparently caused by compression of arteries in the perineal area behind the scrotum -- may lead to arterial sclerosis, although the authors caution that more research is needed.

The erectile dysfunction rate among the athletes studied was triple the rate of a similar group of swimmers. In addition, nearly 70 percent of the cyclists suffered from temporary genital numbness. In an interview with Medcast News Networks Engelman said, "I think the recreational biker has nothing to fear, and if he's worried he should take a look at his saddle, and use a wider saddle, one that is padded, or change position (frequently) during cycling."


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