Did you know that your mental health can play a role in your ability to orgasm? 

Psychiatrist Jessi Gold, M.D., recently penned an article for InStyle where she divulged conversations with female patients that provided a deeper look into the link between mental health and sexual function.

She revealed that one area women are especially avoidant in speaking of is their sex lives. 

She recalled a conversation with one of her patients who had been taking antidepressant medication for years (Antidepressants typically cause difficulty in “becoming aroused, sustaining arousal, or reaching orgasm"). She asked her patient, “Have you noticed any changes to your interest in sex or sexual functioning?” And her patient looked back at her stunned, shifted in the chair, and avoided eye contact. 

Gold goes on to explain that “women feel more shame talking about sexual side effects, even to another woman.” 

While men usually never hesitate to open up, women are more prone to feeling like their shortcomings or difficulties are somehow their own fault. Women tend to feel more ashamed, embarrassed and judged for talking about sex – even if that conversation is with their therapist. 

Gold went on to cite a study by PubMed. This study revealed that “eighty percent of women surveyed who were experiencing sexual dysfunction never talked about it with their mental health providers. Some, nearly fifteen percent, stopped taking their medication due to sexual side effects, choosing silence over getting better. But why should anyone feel they have to choose between good sex and their mental health? It’s about time that changed.”

Gold believes that “change starts with knowledge and awareness.” 

It must become more widely acknowledged that “mental health and sexual functioning are intricately linked.” People with depression are fifty to seventy percent more likely to experience sexual dysfunction and women between the ages of fifty and ninety-nine have sexual health that is more associated with mental health rather than factors like age, or even physical wellness. 

Gold believes that a great way to implement more knowledge and awareness in the world is to first start in the space of therapy. 

Truly creating a one on one experience that feels safe, neutral and trustworthy. She believes having these hard conversations with someone like a therapist first, is one of the best ways to lessen the anxiety one might have before approaching their romantic partner or other significant people in their lives. And if one just cannot bring themselves to feel that level of comfortability with their therapist, she recommends that it may be time to find a new one. 

Gold believes that both therapists and patients should be able to advocate for medications that will not alter one’s sexual functions. 

Patients should be able to ask, and be told by their doctors, about the side effects of medications they may be taking; as well as be able to switch to another that will serve them better rather than further compromise their mental and sexual health.

Gold reminds us that “no one should be suffering in silence – and caring about your own sex life is never selfish.”