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Keywords:

  • neuroleptic medication;
  • sexuality;
  • sexual health;
  • side effects

Discussing issues of sexuality is a challenging and difficult issue for many health care workers. When it comes to sexuality and people with mental health problems there seems to be a dual taboo. Mental health nurses are ideal members of the health care team to talk to service users about issues as sensitive as sexuality and the side effects of medication that impact on sexual health. However, in both clinical practice and the nursing literature, the side effects of medications that impact on sexual function are often ignored and unspoken about. This paper examines the impact of both conventional and atypical neuroleptic medication on sexual function and discusses the probable causes of such effects. The possible reasons why health care professionals are reluctant to discuss side effects impacting on sexual health with service users are explored and emphasis is placed on the need for mental health nurses to respond to requests from service users for more education and discussion in the area of sexuality and sexual health.