Do Antidepressants Cause Male Infertility?

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1. Male Fertility And Antidepressants

It has long been known that women who are trying to conceive should be careful about the antidepressants that they take, since some antidepressants could lead to fertility problems. However, up until now, not much research has been done on men and how antidepressants affect their fertility.

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With antidepressant medications being one of the most commonly prescribed types of drugs in the United States, it is very important to know how they affect male fertility. Read on for more info on this important subject.

2. Sperm Damage and SSRI’s

SSRI’s, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are among the most common antidepressants that are prescribed today. However, new research shows that these popular drugs might actually damage sperm in men who take them. Experts say that in some men, SSRI’s can lower sperm counts by as much as 50 percent.

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This is a hugely significant number, especially if that man has other fertility issues as well. There might not be much sperm to lose in the first place. Doctors also say that it doesn’t take long for the damage to happen. Sperm can be damaged within the first month of being on an SSRI, and can worsen even more as time goes on.

3. More Bad News

That’s not all. There are other problems associated with SSRI’s as well. Not only do SSRI’s damage the sperm count of men, they also change the actual shape of the sperm so that they are unable to swim properly. These sperm rarely have a chance to make it to the egg.

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Therefore, with all of these problems combined, SSRIs can actually render some men infertile while they are taking them. This is very bad news for the men who are taking these drugs for the treatment of their depression while also trying to father a child.

4. What To Do

If your guy is currently taking an SSRI and you are trying to conceive, it is very important to discuss these issues with your doctor. It is even more important that your guy does not go “cold turkey” and abruptly stop using his antidepressants.

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That can also be a very dangerous choice. In some cases, doctors are able to help men wean slowly off the antidepressants, or can substitute another safer drug in it’s place. In some cases, men might be able to temporarily stop using their SSRI’s and see a return in their fertility while they are trying to conceive.

Then, these men could go back to taking their SSRI as usual once their partner becomes pregnant. Whatever you decide to do, it is very important to discuss these issues with your doctor before you take any action.

Dr. Karen Leham is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocronology and Infertility. Dr. Leham completed her residency at Loyola University, followed by a fellowship at UCLA.