See Inside Scientific American Mind Volume 25, Issue 4

When Arousal Is Agony

Sexual dysfunction can emerge when certain nerves start misfiring. Are SSRIs partially to blame?

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A woman we'll call Sally lived in a small town deep in the heart of Texas hill country, a long, rippled patch of land wet with creeks and big oaks growing right out of the water. It's mostly middle class, mostly Christian, the sort of place where you don't have to lock your doors because you already know all your nosy neighbors. She lived with her husband and her kids were grown.

One day her husband took her out for a ride on his motorcycle. When they picked up speed, she was sucked off the back. Sally flew through the air, legs akimbo, and landed on her bottom. The doctors at the ER told her she had compressed a number of disks in her spine, broken her tailbone and snapped her wrist in three places. “Yeah, I messed myself up pretty good,” she says.

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