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An Evaluation of Sexual Functioning in Employed Outpatients with Major Depressive Disorder Treated with Desvenlafaxine 50 mg or Placebo


  • Funding: Pfizer Inc., formerly Wyeth Research, Collegeville, Pennsylvania.

Anita H. Clayton, MD, University of Virginia Health System, P.O. Box 800623 Charlottesville, VA 22908-062, USA. Tel: 434 243 4646; Fax: 434 243 4743; E-mail:


Introduction.  The symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD) include sexual dysfunction, but antidepressant pharmacotherapies are also associated with treatment-emergent sexual dysfunction.

Aim.  These secondary and post hoc analyses evaluated sexual functioning in employed adult outpatients with MDD treated with desvenlafaxine (administered as desvenlafaxine succinate) and placebo.

Method.  Patients were randomly assigned (2:1 ratio) to 12 weeks of double-blind treatment with desvenlafaxine 50 mg/day or placebo.

Main Outcome Measures.  The Arizona Sexual Experiences Scale (ASEX) was administered every 4 weeks. Analysis of covariance was used to compare differences in mean change from baseline ASEX scores between desvenlafaxine and placebo for women and men.

Results.  There were 422 evaluable patients with baseline ASEX scores (desvenlafaxine, N = 281; placebo, N = 141). Among women (desvenlafaxine, N = 184; placebo, N = 92), baseline scores were 20.0 (5.2) and 20.5 (5.3) for desvenlafaxine and placebo, respectively; mean changes at week 12 were −1.93 (0.37) and −1.03 (0.54), respectively (mean difference: 0.90 [–0.38, 2.18]; P = 0.169). Among men (desvenlafaxine, N = 97; placebo, N = 49), baseline scores were 16.4 (4.9) and 15.9 (4.8) for desvenlafaxine and placebo, respectively; mean changes at week 12 were −1.13 (0.47) and −1.06 (0.70), respectively (mean difference: 0.07 [–1.59, 1.74]; P = 0.932). Significantly greater orgasmic dysfunction at week 12 was observed in the subgroup of men without baseline sexual dysfunction treated with desvenlafaxine relative to placebo. Conversely, women without baseline sexual dysfunction experienced poorer overall sexual functioning and orgasm satisfaction at week 12 with placebo relative to desvenlafaxine treatment. Subgroup analyses of treatment responders and nonresponders found no difference in the proportion of men or women that developed or had resolution of sexual dysfunction in the desvenlafaxine and placebo groups.

Conclusion.  With the exception of orgasmic dysfunction in men without preexisting sexual dysfunction, no significant negative effect on sexual functioning was observed over 12 weeks of treatment with desvenlafaxine. Clayton AH, Reddy S, Focht K, Musgnung J, and Fayyad R. An evaluation of sexual functioning in employed outpatients with major depressive disorder treated with desvenlafaxine 50 mg or placebo. J Sex Med 2013;10:768–776.

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