The effect of antidepressants on fertility

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Information on the effects of different pharmaceuticals on fertility is sparse. Human and animal models indicate that antidepressant use could have a negative effect on fertility through alteration of levels of the neurosteroid, allopregnanolone.


The objective of this study is to assess the effects of antidepressants on the natural fertility in women.


A secondary analysis of data from Time to Conceive, a prospective cohort study, was conducted. Women ages 30 to 44 years without a history of infertility, early in their attempts to conceive, were followed with standardized pregnancy testing until pregnancy was detected. Medication use was assessed at enrollment, daily for up to 4 months, and then monthly. For this analysis, discrete time regression models were created to calculate the association between antidepressant use and fecundability. Potential confounders—age, body mass index, caffeine, alcohol use, and education—were included in all models.


Ninety-two (9.6%) of 957 women reported antidepressant use while attempting to conceive. Women taking antidepressants were more likely to be non-Hispanic Caucasian (91% vs 75%, P < .01) and to consume alcoholic beverages (74% vs 61%, P < .01). Antidepressant use at enrollment had an adjusted fecundability ratio (FR) of 0.86 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.63–1.20). However, time-varying analyses suggested that antidepressant use in a given cycle is associated with a reduced probability of conceiving in that cycle (adjusted FR, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.53–1.06). After adjusting for history of depression or restricting the analysis to women who reported a history of depression, the association between antidepressant use and decreased fecundability remained [adjusted FR, 0.66 (95% CI, 0.45–0.97) and (adjusted FR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.43–0.94), respectively].


Our data suggest that antidepressants may reduce the probability of a woman with a history of depression to conceive naturally. Future studies are needed to differentiate the extent to which this association is due to the antidepressant itself versus the underlying depression.

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