At least 6% of the population suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and 14% more experience a less severe condition referred to as the “winter blues.” These conditions may sound made up, but folks in the north experience the effects of the seasonal changes more acutely than in other parts of the country. Many people who experience the mood-altering effects of SAD, rely on antidepressants to get them back to feeling a sense of normalcy. However, is restoring your mood with the assistance of antidepressants putting your fertility at risk?
Serotonin carries signals through nerves making it a natural neurotransmitter. It’s considered by scientists to be the chemical responsible for maintaining mood balance. But how does serotonin play a role in your fertility and how do the medications that fight disorders like SAD affect your chances of conceiving.
How Antidepressants Affect Women
Serotonin is naturally found in female reproductive organs of women. Some studies have found that the level of serotonin in a woman’s body could have an effect on how oocytes (immature egg cells) mature. This could explain why women have a difficult time trying to conceive while depressed.
To combat the effects of depression, many women lean on antidepressants, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), which regulate the amount of serotonin in the brain. While studies have shown there are some risks to taking these medications while pregnant, it’s still unclear if these medications reduce your chances of conceiving.
In a study of women taking SSRIs versus women unexposed to the medication, no significant differences were found between the groups in terms of number of oocytes retrieved, number of oocytes fertilized, or peak estradiol levels. Therefore, taking antidepressants such as SSRIs seem to have no effect on a woman’s fertility.
How Antidepressants Affect Men
In men, taking SSRIs have resulted in erectile dysfunction, problems with ejaculation, and abnormal sperm production, which has been observed in around 50% of the men who take SSRIs. However, the good news is that once a man stops taking the antidepressants, normal sexual reproduction health typically restores after one month.
Your mental health is important, especially during a pregnancy. It’s critical to seek treatment, whether you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or another form of depression.
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