Americans are increasingly depressed and new research suggests that it is affecting our fertility, with men less likely to impregnate their partners and women suffering pregnancy loss as a side effect of antidepressant medication.
The studies, conducted by the National Institutes of Health, sought to understand how rates of depression effect chances of success for couples undergoing infertility treatments.
An estimated 16.2 million people in the U.S. have had a major depressive disorder. Among couples seeking fertility treatments, 50 percent of men and 41 percent of women say they are depressed.
The researchers evaluated pregnancy rates and outcomes among couples where women took ovulation-inducing drugs but didn’t undergo IVF.
They found that in couples with men who had major depression were 60 percent less likely to conceive and have a live birth, compared to couples where the male was not clinically depressed.
This same association was not found in women although the researchers did observe that rates of miscarriage were higher in women taking antidepressants known as non-selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Women taking non-SSRI’s were 3.5 times more likely to have a first trimester pregnancy loss compared to women not taking antidepressants, the researchers found.
“Our study provides infertility patients and their physicians with new information to consider when making treatment decisions,” study author Dr. Esther Eisenberg, of the of the Fertility and Infertility Branch at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a statement.