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J Psychoactive Drugs. 1992 Jan-Mar;24(1):1-40.

Psychoactive drugs and human sexual behavior: the role of serotonergic activity.

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Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


A wide range of both prescription and nonprescription drugs has been reported to affect human sexual functioning. While the sexual side effects resulting from drug use have often been attributed to adrenergic, anticholinergic or dopaminergic activity, the present review considers the potential role of serotonin. Based on animal studies, serotonin has been shown to either facilitate or inhibit sexual activity depending on which serotonin receptor subtype is activated. However, few studies have been done in the human that assess the effects of drugs that bind selectively to serotonin receptors. Consequently, little is known about the role of serotonin in human sexual functioning. In this review, a wide range of drugs that affect both brain serotonergic systems and human sexual behavior is examined in an effort to determine the possible role of serotonin in human sexual behavior. A review of the literature is consistent with the hypothesis that the 5-HT1A and the 5-HT2 receptor subtypes play a facilitatory role in human sexual behavior. The evidence suggests that drugs that act as agonists on these receptor sites enhance sexual functioning in the human, while those that act as antagonists inhibit sexual functioning.

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