Fertility is a highly complicated issue, but unfortunately, the vast majority of people are blissfully unaware of how much difficulty actually goes into getting pregnant. When you first learn about how the body works in your middle school health class, the process doesn’t sound very difficult at all. Well-meaning teachers who are simply trying to keep young kids out of trouble tend to exaggerate how easy it is to make a baby. One quick move, one false step, one minute with your guard down and 9 months later there will be a baby on the horizon. However, once adulthood sets in and you make the decision to have a child according to your carefully designed plans, the reality tends to hit pretty harshly. Only 30 percent of couples will conceive a child on their first try. For the rest, it takes time, sometimes between six months and a year—and sometimes much longer.
Infertility is common—very common. Yet it isn’t talked about very often. It is discussed in hushed whispers, left out of dialogs about hopes and dreams of parenthood and adorable infants. But there are actually a lot of factors that can make conceiving a child difficult. Even if the timing is right, and you are in generally good physical health, there are things that can get in the way.
Mental health is one of those factors. Mental health concerns can make it difficult to impossible to conceive a child. Issues like depression and anxiety can significantly increase your risk of experiencing infertility. This has long been discussed as a concern for women, but the reality is that it also is something that impacts men. Furthermore, the use of antidepressants can cause further complications in regards to fertility issues. A recent study has even confirmed that the use of antidepressants in the male partner can significantly increase a couples’ risk of experiencing infertility.
Antidepressants and Infertility: The Connection
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10 percent of Americans use antidepressants. The use of antidepressants can have a significantly positive effect on your everyday life. Antidepressants make it possible to improve quality of sleep, become more focused at work, engage more meaningfully in social interactions and the list goes on and on. It makes sense, therefore, that while using antidepressants one may decide that it is the right time to introduce a new baby to the family. After all, the decision to become pregnant is a huge life-changing undertaking—one that will cause stress and anxiety for just about anyone.
Unfortunately, however, the use of antidepressants may also make it more difficult to conceive a child. One of the most common types of antidepressants is called an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). SSRIs are helpful in alleviating the effects of depression but have side effects.
In men, these side effects can include:
- Decreased sexual desire
- Erectile dysfunction
- Delayed ejaculation
- Inability to achieve orgasm
The potential sexual side effects of SSRIs have an immediate impact on one’s ability to conceive, as orgasm is fundamental to the conception process.
It is not impossible to conceive while taking antidepressants, whether they are being taken by either the male or female partner. However, it may be necessary to make some changes to your antidepressant use to increase your ability to conceive. In many cases, medication is necessary to managing mental health concerns, but medications such as SSRIs, for example, are not always necessary for everyone. Also, there are ways to increase your ability to conceive without making any changes to your antidepressant regimen.
If you are having difficulty conceiving while taking antidepressants, talk to your fertility doctor about your options. Taking care of your mental health is incredibly important, especially as you consider making a huge change in your life by bringing a child into your family. For support during this process, contact your fertility doctor.