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What Are the Sexual Side Effects of Trazodone?

by Demarco Moore

October 3, 2023
a man sits in bed sexually affected by trazodone

Do you or a loved one use Trazodone for mental health or to sleep better? Research shows this antidepressant can affect sexual health, altering libido and causing ejaculation issues. If you’re in addiction recovery, these side effects matter.

Studies have found that stressing over sexual health can increase your risk of relapse. This blog will guide you through why these specific Trazodone-related sexual side effects should matter to you, who is most at risk, and how to manage them best.

Editor’s Note: This blog shouldn’t replace professional, expert medical advice. If you’re facing sleep, sexual, or addiction issues, call a doctor or addiction treatment provider.

Understanding Trazodone: A Quick Look

Trazodone quick facts and definition infographic

An infographic defining Trazodone.

What Was Trazodone Designed For?

Trazodone, FDA-approved in 1981, was first developed as an antidepressant. Its main job is to help manage depression symptoms.

Other Uses Beyond Depression

Doctors also prescribe Trazodone for the following conditions:

How Trazodone Works

german packaged trazodone

German packaging for a form of Trazodone

Trazodone controls serotonin levels in the brain. This chemical impacts your mood and ability to sleep. More serotonin in your system makes sleep easier while depression symptoms are relieved.

Is Trazodone Addictive?

Research shows that Trazodone and other antidepressants are unlikely to get you hooked. But if you quit all at once, you might experience withdrawal symptoms. Always stick to your prescribed dose to avoid overdose risks.

Off-Label Use and FDA Warning

Trazodone originally received FDA approval under the brand name “Desyrel.” These days, it’s often prescribed to help people sleep. It comes with an FDA Black Box Warning about increased risks of suicidal thoughts. If you or a loved one are taking the drug, take all advice from a healthcare professional.

Common Sexual Side Effects of Trazodone

sexual side effects of trazodone infographic

Sexual side effects of Trazodone.

Studies confirm that Trazodone can affect your sexual health. It’s also sometimes used to treat erectile dysfunction: when you can’t get or keep an erection strong enough for sex. Here are common sexual side effects you might experience when using Trazodone:

  • Increased or Decreased Libido
  • Impaired Ejaculation
  • Priapism

Increased or Decreased Libido

Libido is your sexual drive or desire. Trazodone can either ramp it up or take it down a notch, affecting your interest in sexual activities. 

Impaired Ejaculation

This is difficulty or inability to release semen during sexual climax. If you’re using Trazodone, you might find it challenging to reach this point.


This means having a painful, prolonged erection unrelated to sexual arousal. It’s rare but serious. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience this while taking Trazodone.

Can These Sexual Side Effects Be Prevented?

There’s no foolproof way to avoid these sexual side effects when taking antidepressants like Trazodone. However, according to studies, adjusting the medication or dose can help lessen the impact.

How Trazodone’s Sexual Side Effects Impact Addiction Recovery

Every detail matters when you’re recovering from drugs or alcohol, including your medications. Trazodone is often prescribed for mental health support, but its sexual side effects can create challenges that directly influence your journey. Here’s how:

Impact on Mental Health

Maintaining a good diet and mood is crucial in recovery. Although antidepressants like Trazodone can help, their sexual side effects can introduce stress, making it harder to keep your mental well-being on track.

Increased Risk of Relapse

While everyday stress is normal, added stress can be a common relapse trigger. The stress caused by Trazodone’s sexual side effects can increase cravings and lower your defenses against falling back into old habits. In recovery, you can’t afford to ignore this.

The Brain’s Role

Stress activates brain pathways that intensify cravings. So when Trazodone’s sexual side effects increase your stress levels, they make your recovery journey more challenging.

Influence on Relationships

Personal relationships are crucial supports in your recovery. Sexual dysfunction can strain these relationships, adding another layer of stress and complexity to your recovery process.

Make Informed Choices

Stress over sexual issues isn’t just about quality of life. It’s a potential stumbling block in your recovery. Knowing this allows you and your healthcare provider to make better decisions about your treatment.

Trazodone’s Sexual Side Effects: A Gender-Specific Look

Trazodone can be a double-edged sword, especially for those in addiction recovery. While it might help with depression or anxiety, it can mess with your sexual health in ways that differ between men and women. Let’s dive into these challenges so you know what to expect and how to navigate them.

How Trazodone Affects Men Sexually

  • Reduced Sex Drive: For some men, Trazodone might turn down the sexual thermostat. A lowered sex drive can frustrate and strain your relationships, impacting your emotional well-being.
  • Erectile Problems: Difficulty in achieving or sustaining an erection is another concern. If you’re already dealing with the stress of recovery, this can add another layer of emotional turmoil.
  • Priapism Risks: This is a medical emergency. If you experience an erection that doesn’t go away and is painful, get immediate medical attention to prevent lasting damage. It’s noteworthy that women don’t usually face a comparable risk.
  • Interactions and Day-to-Day Functioning: Watch out for other side effects like dizziness or blurred vision. Always communicate with your healthcare provider about any other medications you’re taking, including treatments for addiction recovery.

How Trazodone Affects Women Sexually

Women face a distinct set of challenges, including:

  • Lowered Sexual Desire: Just like men, some women find that their interest in sexual activities takes a hit. This can lead to tension in your relationships and negatively affect your self-esteem.
  • Arousal and Orgasm Issues: Struggling to get aroused or reach orgasm can make sexual activities less enjoyable, further discouraging sexual interactions.
  • Vaginal Dryness: Vaginal dryness can make intercourse painful, frustrating, and add to the list of reasons sex might not seem appealing when using Trazodone.

Consult Your Healthcare Provider

These side effects aren’t guaranteed, but if you experience them, guidance from a healthcare provider can help you explore other medication options or treatments for sexual dysfunction.

How to Manage Trazodone’s Sexual Side Effects

Consult a Healthcare Provider

The first step in handling any medication side effect is talking to a healthcare provider. They can help tailor your substance abuse or mental health treatment plan, perhaps even recommending addiction recovery programs.

Consider Treatment Program Adjustments

Some addiction treatment programs address addiction and medication side effects, often known as dual diagnosis. They can offer stress management techniques that tackle the unique challenges posed by Trazodone’s side effects.

Lifestyle Changes Can Help

Regular exercise and dietary changes can sometimes offset medication side effects. A healthy lifestyle may help you manage stress better, making your recovery more stable.

Stay Informed, Stay on Track

Understanding the link between Trazodone’s sexual side effects and stress in recovery keeps you vigilant. The more you know, the better you can adapt and protect your recovery.

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Trazodone’s Sexual Side Effects During Recovery

Trazodone can lead to various sexual side effects, from decreased libido to issues with arousal and orgasm. These aren’t just physical challenges. They can create emotional stress that heightens the risk of relapse. 

Understanding these side effects is crucial for those in recovery and their families. They serve as potential stressors that could derail your recovery path.

Ready for a Change? Landmark Recovery Can Help

If you’re struggling with drugs or alcohol or know someone who is, it’s important to address every element that can affect your journey, including medication side effects. Landmark Recovery offers tailored treatment programs to help you navigate these complex issues. We have locations in the following states to serve you better:

Take action before another day goes by. Call our confidential admissions line 24/7 at 888-448-0302. Reach out now and take the first step toward a healthier life.
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About the Author

Demarco Moore

Demarco Moore

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Demarco Moore currently writes blogs about drug addiction treatment and recovery to help save lives at treatment provider Landmark Recovery. Before that, he cut his teeth as a sports writer at the Manchester Times, where his coverage and stories won Tennessee Press Association awards in 2016 and 2017.

He’s always had a knack for storytelling. Moore’s written content for junior golf tournaments and helped to amplify the “People Not Profits” message of credit unions. When he’s not writing, Moore loves to travel, laugh and put his mental health into the hands of the Tennessee Titans during football season.