Sexual dysfunctions (SDs) occur frequently in schizophrenia patients and have a huge impact on quality of life and compliance. They are often associated with antipsychotic medication. Nicotine consumption, negative or depressive symptoms, and physical illness are also discussed as contributing factors. Data on SD in first-episode schizophrenia patients are scarce.
As part of the European First Episode Schizophrenia Trial, first-episode schizophrenia patients were randomly assigned to 5 medication groups. We assessed SD by analyzing selected items from the Udvalg for Kliniske Undersugelser at baseline and at 5 following visits.
Differences between antipsychotics were small for all SDs, and fairly little change in the prevalence of SDs was seen over the course of the study. A significantly larger increase of amenorrhea and galactorrhea was seen with amisulpride than with the other medications. In men, higher age, more pronounced Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale general psychopathology symptoms, and higher plasma prolactin levels predicted higher rates of erectile and ejaculatory dysfunctions. Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale negative symptoms and higher age were predictors for decreased libido.
In women, higher prolactin plasma levels were identified as a predictor of amenorrhea. Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale negative symptoms predicted decreased libido.
All evidence taken together underscores the influence of the disease schizophrenia itself on sexual functioning. In addition, there is a strong correlation between the prolactin-increasing properties of amisulpride and menstrual irregularities.