Americans take some form of prescription antidepressants to address issues such as short-term emotional distress related to the end of a serious relationship, the death of a loved one, or some type of traumatic event. Some physicians and therapists will prescribe antidepressants for an individual who is recovering from long-term substance abuse or addiction issues. Antidepressants may also be prescribed for individuals who are dealing with a life-threatening illness.
In certain circles, there is a great deal of debate about the potential overuse of antidepressants in the United States as well as other Western countries. The topic can sometimes turn heated when the focus is turned from short-term circumstances where antidepressants are included in the treatment plan, to long-term antidepressant use in chronic conditions.
This has driven a great deal of research in recent years into the full effects of antidepressants on the brain, as well as the rest of human physiology. Some new research studies have even looked into whether or not antidepressants can have an effect on the human reproductive system and human fertility.
At the current time, the body of research into this topic is somewhat limited. There is no definitive evidence that demonstrates a direct link between selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, known also as SSRIs and any adverse impact on fertility. This is largely based on a research study and corresponding paper that appeared in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, which is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.
The study specifically states that there is currently an insufficient amount of evidence to propose that selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors have the ability to effectively reduce fertility or to influence the general outcomes of common infertility treatments. Yet it also goes on to note that selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors could potentially have an adverse impact on some aspects of fertility such as sperm quality. However, more research will be required to verify this theory
Exploring The Relationship Between Selective Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitors And Fertility
It is estimated that around one out of every six American couples, experiences increased psychological distress due to some type of infertility issue. At the same time, there are other studies that have estimated that between 4 to 11% of women who are undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) are taking some form of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors, during the course of treatment.
In the past, there have been several research studies that have explored the effects of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors on pregnancy and the gestational process as well as fetal outcomes. However, much less is known about just how these drugs can impact fertility as well as how much of an effect they might have on infertility treatment outcomes.
To help shed some light on this topic that is very important to many American couples, a team of researchers reviewed and analyzed the findings of 16 previous studies. Each of them looked at the associations between selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors and fertility as well as overall infertility-treatment outcomes.
Of these, seven studies were designed to evaluate the Effect of antidepressants in couples who were receiving infertility treatments. These tests were most commonly measured by the success rate of IVF treatments.
Six of these studies failed to find any significant association between selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors and the outcomes of infertility treatments. However, three of the studies found a possible trend toward a decreased probability of pregnancy in each IVF cycle or some decrease in fertility biomarkers in women who were taking selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors. One study even found that antidepressants were associated with increased pregnancy rates.
Only two of the related studies specifically looked at the effects of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors on fertile women. Both of them returned conflicting results. One study even suggested that there might be a lower probability of conception for women who had symptoms commonly associated with depression yet were not taking antidepressants for treatment.
The Potential Impact Of Antidepressants On Male Fertility
There were another Seven studies that specifically focused on the topic of male fertility and the impact of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors. Six of these studies found that SSRIs have a negative impact on most semen parameters which also included sperm quality. However, the researchers noted that this group of studies also had a few significant limitations. Primarily in that they did not account for the effects of depressive symptoms.
This indicated a need for more research into the possible effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors on reproductive age men as well as with couples trying to conceive. The discussion associated with this type of study will need to emphasize the complex associations between factors such as depression, and antidepressants when it comes to infertility. It should also incorporate the potential impact of mental illness which is often associated with many other psychosocial factors and certain lifestyle choices which can potentially affect fertility. This should include health factors such as smoking, and obesity, as well as alcohol, drug use and problems with chronic substance abuse. This could help to filter results to refine any direct causal relationships between selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors and fertility
The overarching goal in a study of this magnitude would be to weigh the possible benefits of antidepressant medications while also factoring in potential risks. This would include the potential impact of untreated depression, on the fertility outcomes of couples who are struggling to conceive. In some of these cases, psychotherapy may be a very effective alternative to prescribing antidepressants for patients who need treatment for things like mild depression and anxiety. Antidepressants might also be effective for helping individuals and couples who need help coping with the diagnosis of infertility.
Source – News-Medical