The effect of serotonin reuptake inhibitors on the vaginal epithelium in postmenopausal women Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Purpose: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are used as alternative treatments for the vasomotor symptoms of menopause in women who are unwilling or unable to receive hormone therapy. These agents have been associated with sexual dysfunction and xerostomia (dry mouth), but the effect on the vagina has not been studied. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of SSRIs and SNRIs on the vaginal epithelium and sexual function in postmenopausal women, using both subjective and objective measures. Materials and methods: A cross-sectional study of postmenopausal women not using any local or systemic estrogen therapy was conducted. The main outcomes included the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), vaginal epithelial maturation index (MI), and pH. Results: Sixty-six women were recruited, 30 using SSRIs/SNRIs and 36 who were not (control). Both the proportion of superficial vaginal epithelial cells and the total MI were higher in the SSRI/SNRI group (p = 0.006 and p = 0.047, respectively). There were no significant differences in FSFI scores, vaginal pH, or total MI values. Conclusion: The use of serotonin reuptake inhibiting drugs does not appear to have a negative influence on the vaginal epithelium and associated vaginal atrophy.

publication date

  • September 3, 2019