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Does Wellbutrin Enhance Sex Like Viagra or Ecstasy?



Prozac and similar selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox and Celexa, have become the nation's most popular antidepressants. Many people say that SSRIs have improved their lives dramatically.

However, in addition to their most common side effects, like nausea, nervousness, insomnia, diarrhea, dry mouth and hand shaking, the SSRIs have become notorious for causing sex problems: libido loss, difficulty in reaching or inability to reach climax and, in men, erectile dysfunction. Depending on the study, 50 to 80 percent of SSRI users report at least one sexual side effect.

Unfortunately, few people know that another antidepressant, Wellbutrin (chemical name: bupropion), is as effective as the SSRIs - but much less likely to cause sexual side effects. Not only that, several studies have actually shown that Wellbutrin has sexually enhancing effects.

Studies show that like the SSRIs, Wellbutrin's other side effects are pretty mild and usually temporary. But in terms of sexual side effects, we're talking night and day. The SSRIs send your sex life down the toilet, but with Wellbutrin it's the opposite: It will improve it.

So why do so few people know about Wellbutrin's positive effects on sexual health? The answer involves an unfortunate chain of events that include a combination of bad luck, bad press and drug industry prudery before Viagra proved to be a cash cow. Two recent studies may begin to turn things around.



Wellbutrin is not an SSRI and is chemically unrelated to every other antidepressant medication. Medical researchers are still not completely sure how and why it works. In the mid-1980s, when Burroughs-Wellcome (now GlaxoWellcome) was demonstrating that Wellbutrin was safe and effective enough to win FDA approval, the company contracted with several laboratories to study the drug's side effects.

One safety study showed that at very high doses, about twice the recommended maximum, the original formulation of Wellbutrin caused seizures in 0.4 percent of those who took it. That's 4 people per 1,000. That's about 2 to 4 times the seizure risk of other antidepressants.

Trying to save their million-dollar research and development investment, Burroughs-Wellcome came up with a new slow-release (SR) formula, now the standard prescription. Wellbutrin-SR caused seizures in only 0.1 percent of users, comparable to the seizure risk of Prozac and Paxil, and lower than the risk associated with Zoloft (0.2 percent), Luvox (0.2 percent) and Celexa (0.3 percent).

Roberta May, director of the Office of Psychiatric Research and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama says, "Wellbutrin is an excellent antidepressant that has no more seizure potential then other antidepressants."

During another study, the Crenshaw Clinic, one of the nation's most prominent sex and drug research facilities gave 60 men and women suffering from low libido and difficulty with reaching climax Wellbutrin. An astonishing 63% of the people taking Wellbutrin reported improved sexual health.

"The drug companies have had a historical anti-sexual bias," says Eli Coleman, professor and director of the Human Sexuality Program at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. "Of course, Viagra has changed that," but Crenshaw's study took place a decade before the erection pill was approved.



In a medical study published in Clinical Pharmacological Therapies in 1997, researchers at the University of Alabama gave 107 depression sufferers one of four antidepressants: Wellbutrin, Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft. Among those taking the 3 SSRIs, 73 percent complained of sex-impairing side effects. Only 14 percent of the Wellbutrin group reported sex problems, while 77 percent said the drug "heightened sexual function."

In another 1997 study, reported in Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, researchers at Valparaiso University in Indiana gave Wellbutrin to 14 nondepressed diabetic men with erection problems caused by diabetes. After 10 weeks, they showed significantly improved sexual functioning.

In a 1998 study, researchers at the State University of New York tested Wellbutrin as an antidote for SSRI-induced sexual impairment in 47 depressed individuals who were told to take the drug an hour or two before sex. Wellbutrin successfully reversed the sex problems in 66% of them.

"There was mounting evidence that Wellbrutrin has a significant pro-sexual effect for people with a variety of conditions. No other drug had ever done that," says one researcher. At Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, a team of medical researchers gave Wellbutrin to 66 women, aged 23 to 65, who had experienced low or no libido for an extended period of time. By the end of study with Wellbutrin, the women reported that their sexual arousal had increased significantly, and the number of their sexual fantasies had more than doubled (0.7 to 1.8). "Before starting treatment," Seagraves says, "100 percent of the women were dissatisfied with their level of sexual desire, but by the end of the treatment phase, 40 percent reported feeling satisfied."

At the University of Alabama, in a study reported in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, a team led by Jack Modell, M.D., a professor of psychiatry, worked with 30 adults (20 women, 10 men), ages 21 to 54, who complained of low libido, poor sexual satisfaction, difficulty reaching orgasm and, among the men, premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Wellbutrin treatment "significantly improved" sexual functioning. The women recorded highly statistically significant improvement in ability to reach orgasm, and the men reported highly significant improvement in ability to raise and maintain erection. In addition to overall improvement in their sexual functioning, one woman reported the first orgasm of her life, and another woman experienced her first multiple orgasms.

Because Wellbutrin is already an approved antidepressant, doctors are free to prescribe it for sex problems without the FDA's specific approval. That would be of help especially to women, who have not shown benefit from Viagra.

Some people, who have had experiences with illegal drugs, reported that having sex while on Wellbutrin was very similar to having sex while rolling on Ecstasy (MDMA).


Have you had similar experiences with any of these drugs?





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