Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 05/19/2021
Ah, modern medicine. The very pills that can treat what ails us can cause unwanted side effects.
The rigorous testing that goes along with getting a drug approved for use typically uncovers the adverse effects that go along with it.
If those risks prove too high, it’s unlikely the drug will be approved. But generally, and as is the case with paroxetine, side effects are manageable and possibly even temporary.
In fact, paroxetine side effects are why some men take the medication: it helps with premature ejaculation.
But before you take this medicine for PE or any other reason, it’s important to understand what effects you can expect.
Paroxetine, sometimes sold under the brand name Paxil, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI.
It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat major depressive disorder, social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It is a prescription drug, which means you have to talk with a medical professional before you can get your hands on it.
Paroxetine most often comes in tablet form, and can take a while to build up enough to become effective.
Great question. One of several off-label uses of paroxetine is in the treatment of premature ejaculation. (Other off-label uses include chronic headaches and tingling in the hands and feet caused by diabetes).
“Off-label” means a drug’s use isn’t explicitly approved by the FDA, but there is general scientific support for its use in a particular instance.
When it comes to premature ejaculation, it’s widely known that one of the most common Paxil side effects is ejaculation problems, or that the medication causes delayed ejaculation.
For men who don’t struggle with premature ejaculation, this could be annoying.
But for men who are searching for a solution to finishing too fast, this sexual side effect can be a blessing.
Among several SSRIs, paroxetine seems to provide the most significant ejaculation delay, making it a relatively common choice in the treatment of premature ejaculation.
In fact, research indicates paroxetine can increase the time to ejaculation by 8.8 times over baseline, and as soon as within five to 10 days of beginning treatment.
So we know paroxetine can cause ejaculation changes. But what are the unwanted side effects?
The likelihood you’ll experience Paxil side effects depends on your dosage, but when it comes to using paroxetine in the treatment of ejaculation problems, the most common side effects include: headache, nausea, dizziness, sleep disturbances, fatigue, dry mouth, yawning, and constipation.
Scientific literature suggests these side effects are typically mild and temporary, resolving within 2 to 3 weeks of treatment in most patients.
Less commonly, erectile dysfunction occurs, and for men seeking help with sexual function, this could be an obvious reason to stop taking paroxetine.
Men who take paroxetine for premature ejaculation may also have difficulty sticking with their treatment regimen, either due to relationship issues, side effects or simply not wanting to take a drug associated with mental illness.
While the stigma of depression medication is real, seeking medical help for physical and mental health issues should not come with shame or embarrassment.
As with any prescription drug regimen, if you’re experiencing unwanted effects that make taking the drug unpleasant or unsustainable, get medical attention before stopping treatment altogether.
Your healthcare professional may be able to reduce your dose or guide you through other approaches to minimizing Paxil side effects.
There are a few other options for the treatment of premature ejaculation.
Topical creams can reduce sensitivity by numbing the penis. One such anesthetic, lidocaine, can increase time-to-climax “significantly,” according to research. Lidocaine is also available in a quickly-absorbed spray.
Tramadol for premature ejaculation is an opiate, and therefore addictive. This means that in spite of it having some effectiveness in treating PE, it’s rarely used.
Additional side effects of tramadol include nausea, vomiting, dry mouth and dizziness, among others.
Phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors are commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction. However, there is some indication that they may assist with premature ejaculation in instances where men have “conditioned themselves to ejaculate rapidly” for fear of losing their erection before finishing.
There was a time when premature ejaculation was believed to be entirely “in your head,” or the result of anxiety and mental conditioning.
Because of this, therapy was the first-line treatment, and with some success. If you find your PE is brought on by anxiety or other mental health concerns, therapy may help.
It’s safe to say that all prescription drugs come with the risk of side effects. In the case of paroxetine, one of the more common side effects–delayed ejaculation—makes the medication an off-label treatment option for premature ejaculation.
Other potential paroxetine side effects include headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue and sleep disturbances, but these are believed to be temporary, and resolve once you get accustomed to the medication.