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Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Sexual Side Effects

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Reviewed by Mike Bohl, MD

Written by Geoffrey Whittaker

Published 07/01/2022

Updated 02/23/2024

The antidepressant known as bupropion (Wellbutrin) may not be the best antidepressant for everyone, but for people experiencing sexual side effects from another antidepressant, it can be a (sex) life saver.

Some of the most popular antidepressants today can cause negative sexual side effects

Common sexual side effects of antidepressants include things like a decreased libido, reduced arousal, difficulty orgasming and erectile dysfunction. Bupropion hasn’t been found to produce these side effects — in fact, some research shows it could increase libido, which could make it a good option for people seeing side effects from other antidepressant medications.

Below, we’ll explain how Wellbutrin works, whether it can treat sexual dysfunction and what other Wellbutrin sexual side effects you may need to worry about. We’ll also touch on some alternatives for treating low libido and erectile dysfunction (ED) so you can get back on top of your game regardless of what’s keeping you down.

Does wellbutrin make you last longer in bed? Does wellbutrin affect sex drive positively? Answering these questions requires a quick bit of background information.

  • Bupropion is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for  depression, seasonal affective disorder and smoking cessation. This medication is also frequently used to treat ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), obesity and sexual dysfunction disorder.

  • Wellbutrin was approved by the FDA in 1985 for the treatment of depression. It does this by targeting receptors for the neurotransmitters in the brain.

These medications are called norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (or NDRIs). NDRIs like Wellbutrin prevent your neurons from reabsorbing norepinephrine and dopamine. As a result, more of these neurotransmitters remain active in the space where neurons communicate with one another.

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In addition to its other uses, bupropion can also help with low sexual desire and erectile dysfunction in people experiencing these conditions as side effects of other antidepressant treatments.

Usually, SSRIs are the culprits in these cases.

SSRIs (short for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the most commonly and safely prescribed medications for depression and anxiety disorders today. You may know names like Prozac®, citalopram, sertraline and fluoxetine as common mental health medications.

Some adverse effects of SSRIs include things like diminished sex drive and negative impacts on sexual performance.

Bupropion, on the other hand, is one of the few antidepressants that don’t cause these common side effects, and some research shows it can have the opposite effect — increasing your libido.

So, while Wellbutrin erectile dysfunction treatment isn’t an FDA-approved usage, in this off-label capacity, bupropion works as a remedy for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction, specifically SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction.

Wellbutrin Sex Drive Increase

Bupropion sexual side effects may, in other words, be benefits — like an increased sex drive.

The Wellbutrin and sex drive relationship hasn’t been deeply studied, but some limited studies have shown that the side effects of bupropion may include increased libido.

In some research, men observed that while taking Wellbutrin, beneficial sexual effects occurred. A small double-blind study found that, compared to placebo, bupropion actually increased self-reported feelings of desire and frequency of sexual activity in men with SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction.

Will a Wellbutrin sex drive be insatiable? Probably not, but research shows it could be substantially improved — at least when compared to SRRIs.

Wellbutrin isn’t without its own side effects, though. Compared to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, some of its side effects could be considered more significant.

Premature Ejaculation and Spontaneous Ejaculation

Scientists aren’t really sure how or why this happens, but there are reports of spontaneous ejaculation and shortened time to ejaculation (aka premature ejaculation or PE) in men who use bupropion.

Digestive Issues That Can Kill The Mood

The side effects of bupropion are significant. They can include constipation, weight loss, dry mouth, nausea, headache, ringing in the ears, sore throat, loss of appetite, stomach pain, vomiting, uncontrollable shaking in your extremities and frequent urination. This medication can even affect your sense of taste.

We don’t know about you, but when we’re experiencing any of these issues, the only thing we can think about using a bed for is getting rest.

Serious Side Effects

In some cases, you may experience serious side effects when taking bupropion. These may include irrational fears, seizures, hallucinations, muscle and joint pain, confusion or a rapid heartbeat, to name a few.

Seek medical attention ASAP if you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms. Also, contact a healthcare professional if you have trouble swallowing, a fever, rash, blisters, swelling or hives when taking bupropion.

Check our guide to Wellbutrin side effects for more insight.

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Drug-induced sexual dysfunction can come in several forms. But for many men, the reality of taking antidepressants is that sexual activity often takes a hit due to things like erectile dysfunction or low libido.

Bupropion may help, but treatment for these issues might call for more than a new medication — and it might involve extra work on your part. And that’s okay.

The most effective ED treatments are therapy for psychological ED, prescription medication and lifestyle changes. Here’s what to know.

Therapy

While SSRIs may be the culprit in your case, the psychological causes of ED can be significant. This may include performance anxiety, confidence issues and other self-esteem problems that make intimacy difficult.

Previous sexual traumas might also play a part. As such, talking to a therapist about ongoing ED issues is crucial, whether they’re medication-induced or not.

Prescription Medication

Medication-induced ED is one of the cases in which you can fight fire with fire. Prescription medications like Cialis® (tadalafil) and Viagra® (sildenafil) can help increase blood flow to the penis. They do this by acting on an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), keeping you hard for longer.

Medications for ED include:

  • Sildenafil (generic for Viagra)

  • Tadalafil (generic for Cialis)

  • Avanafil (sold as Stendra)

Interested in alternative delivery methods for PDE5 inhibitors? Check out our chewable ED meds hard mints.

Lifestyle Changes

This might be obvious in this day and age, but your overall health plays a role in your erectile health. If you’re having ED issues, a healthcare professional may suggest lifestyle changes, like smoking or drinking less, avoiding recreational drugs, eating a better diet, improving your exercise habits and maybe even getting a good night’s rest.

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Wellbutrin isn’t an automatic libido enhancer, and there’s no guarantee you’ll have better erections or an improved sex drive if you switch to it from another antidepressant.

But you should absolutely talk to a healthcare professional about it in some circumstances:

  • If you’re on antidepressant medication and are experiencing bothersome sexual dysfunction, it’s time to talk to a healthcare provider.

  • We know navigating medications can be confusing, but skip the gas station pills and weird herbal supplements and just talk to your healthcare provider. Getting the right support, advice and medications will be a life-changer.

  • Erectile dysfunction treatments might be better suited for your needs, or they may work alongside Wellbutrin.

  • If you have other sexual health issues, we can help you find what you need. Our online psychiatry platform is a great place to look. We can also help you explore premature ejaculation treatment if you want to last a little longer.

Whether you’re switching off an SSRI or not, get professional support today. It’ll lift your spirits — among other things.

6 Sources

  1. Yafi, F. A., Jenkins, L., Albersen, M., Corona, G., Isidori, A. M., Goldfarb, S., Maggi, M., Nelson, C. J., Parish, S., Salonia, A., Tan, R., Mulhall, J. P., & Hellstrom, W. J. (2016). Erectile dysfunction. Nature reviews. Disease primers, 2, 16003. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5027992/.
  2. Huecker MR, Smiley A, Saadabadi A. Bupropion. updated 2021 apr 19. In: StatPearls internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470212/.
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Bupropion: MedlinePlus Drug Information. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a695033.html.
  4. Sooriyamoorthy T, Leslie SW. Erectile Dysfunction. updated 2022 feb 14. In: StatPearls internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562253/.
  5. Chu A, Wadhwa R. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. updated 2021 may 10. In: StatPearls internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554406/.
  6. Clayton, A. H., Warnock, J. K., Kornstein, S. G., Pinkerton, R., Sheldon-Keller, A., & McGarvey, E. L. (2004). A placebo-controlled trial of bupropion SR as an antidote for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-induced sexual dysfunction. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 65(1), 62–67. https://doi.org/10.4088/jcp.v65n0110/.
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Mike Bohl, MD

Dr. Mike Bohl is a licensed physician, a Medical Advisor at Hims & Hers, and the Director of Scientific & Medical Content at a stealth biotech startup, where he is involved in pharmaceutical drug development. Prior to joining Hims & Hers, Dr. Bohl spent several years working in digital health, focusing on patient education. He has also worked in medical journalism for The Dr. Oz Show (receiving recognition for contributions from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences when the show won Outstanding Informative Talk Show at the 2016–2017 Daytime Emmy® Awards) and at Sharecare. He is a Medical Expert Board Member at Eat This, Not That! and a Board Member at International Veterinary Outreach.

Dr. Bohl obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine from Brown University, his Master of Public Health from Columbia University, and his Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies—Journalism from Harvard University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership at Cornell University. Dr. Bohl trained in internal medicine with a focus on community health at NYU Langone Health.

Dr. Bohl is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, Medical Writer Certified by the American Medical Writers Association, a certified Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs. He has graduate certificates in Digital Storytelling and Marketing Management & Digital Strategy from Harvard Extension School and certificates in Business Law and Corporate Governance from Cornell Law School.

In addition to his written work, Dr. Bohl has experience creating medical segments for radio and producing patient education videos. He has also spent time conducting orthopedic and biomaterial research at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland and practicing clinically as a general practitioner on international medical aid projects with Medical Ministry International.

Dr. Bohl lives in Manhattan and enjoys biking, resistance training, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, tennis, and traveling. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information.

Publications

  • Younesi, M., Knapik, D. M., Cumsky, J., Donmez, B. O., He, P., Islam, A., Learn, G., McClellan, P., Bohl, M., Gillespie, R. J., & Akkus, O. (2017). Effects of PDGF-BB delivery from heparinized collagen sutures on the healing of lacerated chicken flexor tendon in vivo. Acta biomaterialia, 63, 200–209. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1742706117305652?via%3Dihub

  • Gebhart, J. J., Weinberg, D. S., Bohl, M. S., & Liu, R. W. (2016). Relationship between pelvic incidence and osteoarthritis of the hip. Bone & joint research, 5(2), 66–72. https://boneandjoint.org.uk/Article/10.1302/2046-3758.52.2000552

  • Gebhart, J. J., Bohl, M. S., Weinberg, D. S., Cooperman, D. R., & Liu, R. W. (2015). Pelvic Incidence and Acetabular Version in Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis. Journal of pediatric orthopedics, 35(6), 565–570. https://journals.lww.com/pedorthopaedics/abstract/2015/09000/pelvic_incidence_and_acetabular_version_in_slipped.5.aspx

  • Islam, A., Bohl, M. S., Tsai, A. G., Younesi, M., Gillespie, R., & Akkus, O. (2015). Biomechanical evaluation of a novel suturing scheme for grafting load-bearing collagen scaffolds for rotator cuff repair. Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 30(7), 669–675. https://www.clinbiomech.com/article/S0268-0033(15)00143-6/fulltext

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