Sexual dysfunction in male posttraumatic stress disorder patients Academic Article uri icon


  • Previous studies have suggested that sexual dysfunction may be associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Yet such studies have not examined a full range of sexual functioning and have not accounted for the possibility that medication used to treat PTSD may contribute to sexual dysfunction. The current study compares the various components of sexual functioning among three groups of males: (1) untreated PTSD patients (n = 15), (2) PTSD patients currently treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) agents (n = 27) and (3) a group of normal controls (n = 49). All participants completed an 18-item questionnaire for assessment of sexual functioning. Those with PTSD also completed the Impact of Events Scale and the Symptom Check List-90 (SCL-90). Untreated and treated PTSD patients had significantly poorer sexual functioning in all domains (desire, arousal, orgasm, activity and satisfaction) as compared to normal controls. Those treated with SSRI had greater impairment in desire, arousal and frequency of sexual activity with a partner. There was a high correlation between sexual dysfunction among the PTSD group and the anger-hostility subscale of the SCL-90. PTSD appears to be associated with pervasive sexual dysfunction that is exacerbated by treatment with SSRIs. PTSD may represent a heterogeneous syndrome. Patients with PTSD have a high rate of comorbid panic disorder, major depression and anxiety, and it could thus be argued that these comorbid disorders, rather than PTSD, accounted for the observed result. Future research aimed at understanding comorbidity and heterogeneity should help to illuminate the psychobiology of PTSD and eventually guide both medication and psychosocial treatments.

publication date

  • January 1, 2000