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Lactofem Probiotic as Adjunct to SSRI Antidepressants May Enhance Mood & Sexual Satisfaction in Women (2024 Study)

The link between mental health and sexual function is complex and multifaceted, with depressive disorders particularly affecting individuals’ sexual satisfaction and functionality.

Recent research has highlighted the potential benefits of probiotics in mitigating these impacts, especially among women undergoing treatment with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).

A new study conducted in Iran provides promising evidence that oral probiotic supplementation can enhance sexual function and satisfaction in women treated with SSRIs for depressive disorders.


  1. Depressive disorders can significantly impair sexual function and satisfaction, with SSRIs also contributing to sexual dysfunction.
  2. The study was a double-blind randomized clinical trial, comparing the effects of SSRIs alone versus SSRIs combined with the probiotic Lactofem.
  3. Results showed that probiotic supplementation led to significant improvements in sexual function and satisfaction, as well as reduced depressive symptoms.
  4. This research is among the first to scientifically demonstrate the benefits of probiotics on sexual health in women with depressive disorders treated with SSRIs.

Source: BMC Psychiatry (2024)

Potential of Probiotics as Adjuncts to SSRIs for Enhanced Efficacy & Side Effect Reduction

Preliminary evidence suggests that the incorporation of probiotics as adjunct therapy to Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) may be a promising avenue for enhancing the efficacy of antidepressant treatments and reducing associated side effects, particularly sexual dysfunction.

  • Gut-Brain Axis Modulation: Probiotics can positively influence the gut-brain axis, potentially enhancing the mood-stabilizing effects of SSRIs. By improving gut health, probiotics may facilitate more effective neurotransmitter function, including serotonin, which SSRIs aim to increase.
  • Reduction of SSRI Side Effects: One of the major challenges with SSRI treatment is its side effects, such as sexual dysfunction, which can significantly impact adherence and patient quality of life. Probiotics have shown potential in mitigating these side effects, possibly by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress or through direct effects on sexual health mechanisms.
  • Improvement in Overall Well-being: Beyond addressing specific side effects, probiotics may contribute to general health and well-being, including enhanced immune function, reduced inflammation, and improved digestion. These broader health benefits can support overall mental health and resilience, potentially augmenting the therapeutic effects of SSRIs.
  • Personalized Medicine Approach: Recognizing the individual variability in gut microbiota, probiotics offer a pathway towards more personalized medicine in treating depression. Tailoring probiotic strains to the individual’s specific gut flora and health needs could optimize treatment outcomes with SSRIs.

Effects of Lactofem Probiotics with SSRIs in Women (2024 Study)

Nazir Hashemi-Mohammadabad et al. conducted a study to evaluate the potential of a specific probiotic “Lactofem” along with SSRIs in women – below are the findings.

1. Sexual Satisfaction & Depressive Symptoms

The results demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in both sexual satisfaction and the severity of depressive symptoms among participants in the probiotic plus SSRI group compared to those receiving SSRIs alone.

The significance level (P < 0.05) indicated that these differences were not due to chance, providing strong evidence of the probiotics’ beneficial effects.

Specifically, the study found remarkable improvements in the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) domains and total scores for the group receiving Lactofem alongside SSRIs.

These domains included desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain, all of which showed better outcomes post-intervention in the probiotic group.

2. Quantitative Improvements

The probiotic group experienced significant enhancements in sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction levels.

For instance, the scores for sexual desire and arousal post-intervention notably increased in the probiotic group compared to the control group, highlighting the probiotics’ potential to counteract some of the sexual side effects commonly associated with SSRIs.

Improvements were also significant in lubrication and orgasm domains, suggesting that probiotics may help in addressing physical aspects of sexual dysfunction, which are often overlooked in depressive disorder treatments.

3. Severity of Depressive Disorder

Participants in the probiotic plus SSRI group exhibited a significant reduction in the severity of depressive symptoms, as measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale.

This reduction underscores the potential role of gut microbiota modulation in improving not only sexual health but also the overall emotional and psychological well-being of individuals with depressive disorders.

Oral Probiotics with SSRIs in Iranian Females (2024 Study)

The primary objective of the study was to assess the impact of oral probiotic supplementation on sexual function in women diagnosed with depressive disorder and treated with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) in an Iranian female population.


  • This investigation was structured as a double-blind randomized clinical trial.
  • Participants were women between 18 to 45 years old, diagnosed with depressive disorder, and had been on SSRI treatment for at least four weeks.
  • The study divided participants into two groups: one receiving SSRIs combined with the probiotic supplement Lactofem (n=58), and the other receiving only SSRIs (n=54).
  • Lactofem contained several strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, with a total capsule weight of 500 mg, administered daily for two months.
  • Key outcome measures included sexual function (assessed by the Female Sexual Function Index), severity of depressive disorder (measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale), and sexual satisfaction (evaluated through Larson’s Sexual Satisfaction Questionnaire).


  • The study found statistically significant improvements in sexual satisfaction and the severity of depressive symptoms in the group receiving probiotics plus SSRIs compared to the SSRIs alone group.
  • Specifically, after eight weeks, significant enhancements were observed in the FSFI domains and total scores within the probiotic group, indicating an improvement in sexual function.
  • These results suggest that the adjunct treatment with probiotics can effectively ameliorate both depressive symptoms and sexual dysfunction in women undergoing SSRI treatment.

Limitations & Strengths


  1. Population Specificity: The study was conducted solely on a younger Iranian female population, which may limit the generalizability of the findings to other cultural or demographic groups.
  2. Lack of Placebo Group: There was no placebo control group for the probiotic treatment, which could affect the interpretation of the probiotics’ efficacy.
  3. Short Duration: The intervention lasted only two months, offering limited insight into the long-term effects of probiotic supplementation on sexual and mental health.


  1. Rigorous Design: The double-blind randomized clinical trial design minimized bias and provided a strong foundation for comparing the effects of SSRIs with and without probiotic supplementation.
  2. Comprehensive Measures: Using validated instruments to assess sexual function, depressive symptoms, and sexual satisfaction allowed for a detailed analysis of the intervention’s impact.
  3. Innovative Approach: This study is among the first to explore the role of probiotics in addressing sexual dysfunction among women with depressive disorders on SSRI treatment, contributing valuable insights to an under-researched area of mental health.

How Might Lactofem Probiotic Enhance Mood & Sexual Function in Women on SSRIs (Hypothetical Mechanisms)

The Lactofem probiotic, by improving sexual function and mood in women undergoing SSRI treatment for depressive disorders, may exert an effect through a multifaceted mechanism involving the gut-brain axis.

This axis represents a complex communication network linking the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system, through which gut microbiota can significantly influence brain function and, consequently, mood and behavior.

1. Modulation of the Gut-Brain Axis

Lactofem probiotics may enhance mood and sexual function by modulating the gut-brain axis.

This modulation can occur through the production of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which play crucial roles in regulating mood and anxiety.

Since a large portion of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, improving gut health with probiotics can potentially increase serotonin levels, thereby enhancing mood and mitigating some of the sexual dysfunction associated with depressive disorders and SSRI use.

2. Reduction of Inflammation

Chronic inflammation has been linked to depressive disorders, and the anti-inflammatory properties of probiotics could play a role in their mood-enhancing effects.

By reducing inflammation in the gut, Lactofem may decrease systemic inflammatory markers that are associated with depression and poor mood.

This reduction in inflammation can also alleviate some physical symptoms of depression, potentially improving sexual function indirectly.

3. Improvement of Gut Barrier Integrity

Probiotics, including Lactofem, can strengthen the intestinal barrier, preventing the leakage of harmful substances into the bloodstream, which could otherwise trigger immune responses and inflammation detrimental to mental health.

A healthier gut barrier may lead to a decrease in the body’s stress response, improving overall mood and reducing anxiety levels, factors closely tied to sexual health and function.

4. Effect on Stress & Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can exacerbate depressive symptoms and contribute significantly to sexual dysfunction.

Probiotics have been shown to impact the body’s stress response system, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which regulates stress reactions.

By modulating this axis, Lactofem may reduce stress and anxiety levels, thereby improving mood and enhancing sexual desire and function.

5. Alteration of the Microbial Composition

Lactofem may exert its effects by altering the composition of the gut microbiota, increasing the abundance of beneficial bacteria while decreasing harmful ones.

This rebalancing can affect the production of metabolites and other biochemicals that influence brain health and mood directly or indirectly, further supporting sexual health.

6. Neuroendocrine Effects

Probiotics may influence neuroendocrine systems, affecting the release of hormones that regulate mood and sexual behavior.

For example, improving gut health might modulate the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone,” which plays a role in social bonding and sexual arousal.

Do Adjunct Probiotics with SSRIs Actually Help Women with Depression & Side Effects?

In the context of this study on the effects of probiotics on sexual function and satisfaction in women treated with SSRIs for depressive disorders, several factors could contribute to potential inaccuracies in the results.

While the study presents promising evidence of the benefits of probiotics for women with depressive disorders treated with SSRIs, these factors highlight the importance of cautious interpretation.

Researchers underscore the need for further research, ideally with larger, more diverse populations, placebo-controlled designs, and objective measures, to validate the findings and determine the probiotics’ true efficacy and mechanism of action.

  • Sample Size & Composition: The study’s sample size and demographic composition (specifically, an Iranian female population) may not provide a comprehensive representation of the broader population. Small sample sizes can increase the risk of statistical errors, while a lack of diversity may limit the generalizability of the findings to other groups.
  • Placebo Effect: The psychological impact of believing in treatment efficacy (placebo effect) can significantly influence study outcomes, especially in trials involving subjective measures such as sexual satisfaction and mood. Without a placebo group for comparison, it’s challenging to discern whether improvements were due to the probiotic’s physiological effects or participants’ expectations.
  • Measurement Tools: Relying on self-reported questionnaires to evaluate changes in sexual function and depressive symptoms introduces subjectivity, which can vary widely among individuals. This subjectivity might not fully capture the complexity of sexual function or the nuances of depressive disorder symptoms.
  • Control Variables: The study might not have adequately controlled for all variables that could influence the outcomes, such as participants’ lifestyle factors, dietary habits, other medications, or concurrent treatments for depression. These uncontrolled variables could confound the results, attributing changes to the probiotic that might actually stem from other factors.
  • Correlation vs. Causation: Correlation does not imply causation. The temporal relationship observed between probiotic supplementation and improvements in sexual function or mood does not definitively prove that the probiotics caused these changes. Other factors or temporal coincidences could contribute to the observed outcomes.
  • Reporting Bias: Participants might report what they believe investigators want to hear, consciously or unconsciously skewing the data towards positive outcomes. Similarly, participants who experience improvements may be more likely to complete the study, while those who don’t may drop out, leading to reporting bias.

Conclusion: Probiotics with SSRIs to Enhance Treatment Efficacy & Reduce Side Effects?

The study’s findings showcase the potential role of probiotics as adjuncts to SSRIs in treating depressive disorders, offering a beacon of hope for enhancing treatment efficacy and reducing adverse side effects.

By harnessing the power of the gut-brain axis, probiotics have the potential to transform the landscape of depression treatment, making it more holistic, personalized, and patient-friendly.

Future research, grounded in rigorous methodology and a deep understanding of microbial-host interactions, is crucial to unlocking the full therapeutic potential of probiotics alongside SSRIs.

As we advance, the integration of probiotics into mental health care protocols could significantly improve the quality of life for those battling depression, marking a significant step forward in our approach to mental health treatment.

This study not only contributes valuable insights into the gut-brain connection but also paves the way for innovative, effective treatment strategies that consider the whole person, promising a brighter future for individuals affected by depressive disorders.


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