Does Cymbalta Have Sexual Side Effects?

By Robynn Lowe
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
May 4, 2022

Have you been feeling anxious or depressed for some time?

Your doctor may prescribe you Cymbalta to help relieve your symptoms.

Cymbalta is a brand-name of the drug duloxetine, a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) which treats generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and major depressive disorder (MDD).

If your doctor has prescribed you Cymbalta, it’s important that you know the potential side effects that may accompany the drug.

Most side effects will subside after a few weeks of taking Cymbalta once your body has adjusted, but some, particularly sexual side effects, may continue for the entirety of your course. 

This article will discuss the possible sexual side effects of Cymbalta and why they happen.

It will include how to talk about them with your partner, what to ask your doctor, and other possible side effects of this medication.

Information to discuss with your healthcare provider will also be included.

What is Cymbalta?

Cymbalta is used for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults and generalized anxiety disorder in adults and children over the age of seven years.

Duloxetine is in a class of drugs known as SNRIs which increase the amounts of serotonin and norepinephrine and decrease nervousness

It can help improve your mood, sleep, appetite, and energy levels and can be used to treat nerve pain as well.

Your doctor may prescribe you duloxetine if you have diabetic peripheral neuropathy, fibromyalgia, musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic low back pain as the drug can reduce the intensity of your nerve pain signals.  

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Sexual Side Effects of Cymbalta

Cymbalta is an effective antidepressant for many.

It has also been proven to relieve anxiety-related symptoms.

However, when taking the drug, you may experience some potential side effects, especially while your body gets used to the medicine. 

Some adverse reactions will not go away with time.

This includes sexual dysfunction, a disturbance in your sexual desire, as well as psychophysiological changes that affect your sexual response.

It is important to be aware of how you might respond to the medication.

Difficulty Orgasming 

A delayed orgasm is a possible side effect of duloxetine for people with penises, though everyone may find it difficult to orgasm or have an unsatisfying orgasm on Cymbalta.

Studies have suggested that this may be due to an increase in serotonin in the body, which tends to inhibit sexual activity.

Once there is an increase of serotonin in the brain, the ability to orgasm can decline. 

Erectile Dysfunction 

One of the most common side effects is erectile dysfunction, the inability to get and keep an erection firm for sex.

This is the case with many SNRIs and SSRIs.

Impotence can seriously affect a patient’s wellbeing and if you are struggling with this, you should consult with your doctor to see if your dose can be adjusted or there is another treatment plan that might be better for you.

Decreased Libido 

A decreased libido means that you may have less interest or desire for sexual intercourse.

Your sex drive might be low when taking Cymbalta.

This can affect everyone but tends to be more prevalent for people with penises.

An SNRI increases the amount of serotonin in the body, producing a calming effect that relieves depression and anxiety but also affects the hormones in your body, diminishing your desire for sexual intercourse. 

Ejaculatory Dysfunction

Ejaculatory dysfunction occurs when a person ejaculates sooner or later than expected.

Cymbalta can be the cause of this.

Speak with your healthcare provider about ways to treat or manage this.  

What Causes Sexual Side Effects?

Duloxetine is an SNRI, meaning that it works to increase the amounts of serotonin and norepinephrine in your body.

This increase can create a calming effect to alleviate depression and anxiety.

Consequently, since Cymbalta may affect your hormones, this can lead to sexual problems.

The change in hormone levels means that adverse reactions relating to sexual dysfunction will more than likely not dissipate with time and you may experience them for the entirety of your prescription.

Other Side Effects of Cymbalta 

In addition to possible sexual problems, there are other potential side effects you might experience.

The most common side effect of duloxetine is nausea.

However, you may also experience any of the following:

Typically, these adverse reactions will lessen or go away with time as your body adjusts to the medicine.

Before taking Cymbalta, read all the information on the label and take only as directed by your healthcare provider.

Be sure to discuss all other medications you are taking to avoid drug interactions that can occur.

Your doctor or pharmacist may review the potential side effects.

Consult with your doctor if they persist. 

Managing Side Effects of Cymbalta 

The best way to overcome any sexual side effects from Cymbalta is to discuss them with your healthcare provider.

Your doctor will be able to determine if your dose needs to be adjusted, or if there are other medications you can take to counteract these effects.

Consider the following:

  • Choose proper timing: Have sex before taking your daily dose for better results.
  • Be patient: Your adverse effects may be stronger at the beginning of your treatment and lessen over time as your body adjusts.
  • Lower your dose: Your doctor may be able to improve your sexual function by lowering your daily dose.
  • Take erectile dysfunction medicines or home remedies: This should be taken under the supervision of your healthcare provider.
  • Take a drug holiday: Talk with your doctor if it’s possible to take a drug holiday for a few days to improve your sexual function.

Being Open with Your Partner

Sexual dysfunction can be difficult for both you and any sexual partners, especially when the medication is working well to treat your anxiety or depression.

The best way to handle this is to be open with your partner about what you are experiencing and manage expectations. 

This way you can work together to find ways to work around your sexual side effects, whether that be through taking Viagra, switching to other prescriptions medications, trying home remedies, or speaking with a licensed therapist. 

When to Talk to a Doctor 

Aside from sexual side effects, there are other side effects that you should monitor when taking Cymbalta.

Have your blood pressure measured and monitored while taking duloxetine.

Even though duloxetine is an antidepressant medication, it may induce serious side effects such as aggressive behavior, agitation, and suicidal thoughts or tendencies, especially in teenagers and young adults.

Be sure to speak with a doctor immediately if you or your child experiences any of these side effects.

It can take several weeks for your body to adjust to the medicine but beyond that period, you should consult with your doctor if your symptoms persist or worsen.

They may lower your dosage or find another medication for you.

Do not stop taking this medication without first consulting with a doctor.

The following symptoms indicate an overdose and you should seek medical attention immediately:

  • Agitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Exhaustion
  • Fever
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Muscle spasms
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Poor balance or coordination
  • Restlessness
  • Shivering, shaking, trembling, or twitching
  • Sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Sweating
  • Uncontrollable excitement
  • Vomiting

If you’re having a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. You can also get free 24/7 support from a suicide and crisis expert by calling or texting 988. If you’d prefer to chat online, you can chat with a suicide and crisis expert by visiting the Lifeline Chat.

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How K Health Can Help

Think you might need a prescription for Cymbalta (Duloxetine)?

K Health has clinicians standing by 24/7 to evaluate your symptoms and determine if Cymbalta is right for you.

Get started with our free assessment, which will tell you in minutes if treatment could be a good fit. If yes, we’ll connect you right to a clinician who can prescribe medication and have it shipped right to your door.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Robynn Lowe

Robynn Lowe is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over 15 years in the medical field. Robynn received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Florida Atlantic University and has been practicing in rural family medicine since. Robynn is married to her college sweetheart, Raymond and they have three awesome children. When Robynn isn't with patients you can find her shopping, coaching her kids sports teams, or spending time on the water.

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