Trying to conceive can be a stressful experience as it is. It can be an emotional journey that can trigger stress-related disorders like depression and anxiety. If you already experience anxiety and depression, trying to get pregnant can only exacerbate these issues .For some, the only way to manage these issues are antidepressants. But what does this mean for your fertility?
Effects of Antidepressants on Fertility
There isn’t that much information on how antidepressants affect women’s fertility. In 2016 one study found that there was a slightly higher chance to experience infertility while being on antidepressants. However, this study suggests that further studies need to be done on whether or not it’s the antidepressant that is the cause of that infertility, or the underlying depression.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) have been found relatively safe for use by women during conception and pregnancy. However, there is a different type of antidepressant that has been known to affect your ability to conceive. These are tricyclic antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication, like Elavil. Fortunately for most women, SSRIs are the most common prescription that you will get for treating depression.
For men, however, this isn’t the case. SSRIs that are most often used as antidepressant medication has been linked to abnormal sperm production. It can also be linked to erectile dysfunction and issues with ejaculation because of the changes to hormonal levels. However, coming off SSRIs for around a month seems to reverse these effects almost completely, so this is only a temporary problem to be faced.
Effects of Depression and Anxiety on Fertility
While there isn’t much known about the effects of antidepressants on fertility, it has been found that coming off of them can actually cause more stress on your body than staying on them. In fact a 2015 study showed that attempting to go through with a pregnancy while struggling with major depression can actually lead to premature delivery. This happens at about the same rate as with continuous SSRI usage.
So the decision becomes whether or not your depression can be managed with or without SSRIs. Stress and depression can release hormones into your system that will also interfere with the hormonal balance in your body. The imbalances that mood disorders will cause can affect your ability to conceive, as well as the resulting fetus’s health.
When deciding whether or not to discontinue your antidepressants, you should consult a mental health physician. You’ll need to be able to manage the symptoms of your disorder, with or without medication. If medication is the only way to manage your symptoms, then it is the healthiest option for you and your future child.
Thriving Through Your Pregnancy
As I mention in my book, Pathways to Pregnancy, you need to thrive, not just survive. Among many of the suggestions I would give to you, I would ask you to first change your perspective on your pregnancy. Many times we internalize the problems that we face and that can create more stress on ourselves. If you focus on your well-being — emotional, mental and physical — then your energy and blood will flow more easily and create a more fertile environment.