When I was first prescribed psychiatric drugs to treat my bipolar disorder, one of my first concerns was: how would this affect my sex life?
OK, so that may seem silly. Of course, most people would be more preoccupied with dangerous (and just plain annoying) side effects of mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics. They might be concerned with the long-term effects of the drug, if the medicine will work, and whether or not they really needed psychiatric medicine in the first place. These questions also crossed my mind on anxious loop at different points, but the question of how my sex life would change on medication troubled me the most.
Before medication, my manic impulses dominated by thoughts and actions. One way this translated was through sex, which I engaged in at least once a day. Besides having a sometimes overwhelmingly-high sex drive, being intimate and achieving orgasm became an absolutely necessary coping mechanism of mine, evening out my anxious and depressed moods towards something a bit more balanced. Knowing that sex was my medicine (well, if I’m being honest, my drug), it scared me to imagine how my anti-depressant could decrease my sex drive. I worried that the sedating effects of my mood stabilizer and anti-psychotic would render me too tired to function, let alone have sex. But…there was only one way to know the truth. I started taking the meds that were prescribed to me six months ago. And what I discovered surprised me.
My drugs mellowed me out and stabilized my mood, as they were intended to do. They did make me a bit drowsy too, as I have a much earlier bedtime nowadays. But, to my joy, I discovered that sex felt better for me on meds. It felt as though my whole body could feel a bit more of everything, and could truly relax into connectedness and contentment during intimacy. I felt like I could stay in my body and that my body was a safe place. I felt like I could look into my partner’s eyes and easily connect with their primal sounds and loving stares. It was like looking through a windshield that was finally, for the first time, clean and crystal clear.
Because of this peace, the peace of being on the right drugs for my mental illness, I was able to access even stronger orgasms than I previously could. This was brilliant, but also meant I orgasmed less during sex (while I was able to sustain 10+ climaxes before medication) and finished quicker. I also noticed that before an orgasm, I have a much harder time getting wet due to the incredibly drying nature of my Lithium. But that’s nothing a bit of lube and/or saliva can’t fix.
Nowadays, I find myself getting exhausted by the third or fourth orgasm my partner gives me, and I often fall straight to sleep after sex. My sex drive is also generally lower. That fact certainly doesn’t diminish the level of joy and pleasure I’m able to experience during any given love-making session, but, in all actuality, it’s helped me get my life under greater control. My growing addiction to sex before I took meds was honestly very time-consuming and exhausting for me, and especially for my partner. My sexual appetite, amongst other impulses, dominated how I lived my life as a person without medical treatment for bipolar disorder. But now, my partner and I have sex three or four times a week at most, and we couldn’t be happier.
It feels amazing not to have to put so much pressure on my partner to sexually pleasure me more often in order to feed my never-ending hunger for intimacy. Among other super amazing things that psychiatric meds have done for me, they’ve helped me get rid of my uncontrollable impulses and allowed me to have a more healthy sexual relationship with my partner and myself. Sure, sometimes I miss living impulsively and having more sex. But looking back, I realize that riding the ups and downs of my extreme moods just wasn’t good for me or anyone.
Now, my partner and I are finally in sync and having sex at a pace that we are both satisfied with. And while I may be having less sex thanks to my diminished endurance and drive, I’m certainly making up for the lack of quantity with quality. Because now that I exist in a body that has balanced, stabilized and connected with my partner, I’m having the best sex of my life.