The role of atypical antipsychotics in sexuality: Road to recovery in schizophrenia

Raja Lope Adam, Hatta Sidi*, Marhani Midin, Hazli Zakaria, Srijit Das, Khairi Che Mat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Sexuality is an important dimension in human beings as a form of expression of individuality. For many decades, sexual functioning has been a neglected area among patients suffering from schizophrenia. It was a presumption that patients with schizophrenia could be asexual and this could be secondary to overwhelming situations of delusion, hallucination, hostility and negative symptoms among others. The deficient in sexual functioning are due to innate factors, i.e. negative symptoms (apathy, avolition and amotivation) and also as a result of prefrontal dysfunction, i.e. inability to plan and execute meaningful relationship. Adverse effects of the psychopharmacological agents, especially the typical antipsychotics, e.g. dystonia, excessive sedation and hyperprolactinemia may interfere with patients’ sexual activity. In this review, we highlight the neurobiology of schizophrenia in the context of understanding sexual functioning and to integrate the knowledge of dopamine-serotonin neuro-transmitter's interaction and the receptors’ target. Interventional approaches consist of psychopharmacological and psychosocial interventions. In the perspective of sexuality, we recommend atypical antipsychotic should be placed as the first line treatment for both drug naïve patients and also to patients who are already receiving psychopharmacological agents in consideration for a drug-switch from typical to atypical antipsychotics. Aripiprazole, clozapine, olanzapine and quetiapine exert benefits in terms of sexual functioning recovery due to their atypical mechanism of action. However, the potential adverse effect like metabolic syndrome should be adequately managed to prevent negative consequences. Psychosocial interventions, i.e. psychoeducation, destigmatization, supportive psychotherapy and psychiatric rehabilitation also play a crucial role in the management. In conclusion, restoration of sexual function is an achievable recovery target in patients with schizophrenia through these bio-psycho-social interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1402-1411
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Drug Targets
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Atypical antipsychotics
  • Psychoeducation
  • Psychotherapy
  • Recovery
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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