Chronic fluoxetine inhibits sexual behavior
in the male rat: reversal with oxytocin

Cantor JM, Binik YM, Pfaus JG
Department of Psychology,
McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Psychopharmacology (Berl) 1999 Jun; 144(4):355-62


RATIONALE: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, used widely in the treatment of depression, progressively inhibit sexual orgasm in many patients and induce a transient inhibition of sexual desire. OBJECTIVES: We attempted to model the effects of these drugs in sexually experienced male rats during tests of copulation in bilevel chambers. These chambers allow the study of both appetitive and consummatory sexual responses of male rats. METHODS: Males were treated daily with fluoxetine hydrochloride (0, 1, 5, or 10 mg/kg) and tested for sexual behavior with receptive females at 4-day intervals. Rats were treated with oxytocin (200 ng/kg) or saline after ejaculations had decreased. RESULTS: Fluoxetine decreased ejaculatory responses of male rats in a dose- and time-dependent fashion, but left the copulatory efficiency of the males intact. In contrast, conditioned level changing, a measure of appetitive sexual excitement, was inhibited following acute and chronic treatment with 10 mg/kg, although tolerance may have developed to the effect of 5 mg/kg. Subsequent administration of oxytocin restored the ejaculatory response but not the measure of sexual excitement to baseline levels. CONCLUSIONS: The reversal by oxytocin of the fluoxetine-induced deficit in ejaculations is consistent with the hypothesis that serotonin suppresses ejaculatory mechanisms by interrupting the action of oxytocin, which normally accompanies sexual behavior. Co-administration of oxytocin may help to alleviate the predominant sexual side effect of serotonin reuptake blockers.
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