Male depression may lower fertility odds in couples

Among couples being treated for infertility, depression in the male partner was linked to lower pregnancy chances, while depression in the female partner was not found to influence the rate of live birth, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The study, which appears in Fertility and Sterility, also linked a class of antidepressants known as non-selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (non-SSRIs) to a higher risk of early pregnancy loss among females being treated for infertility. SSRIs, another class of antidepressants, were not linked to pregnancy loss. Neither depression in the female partner nor use of any other class of antidepressant were linked to lower pregnancy rates.

“Our study provides infertility patients and their physicians with new information to consider when making treatment decisions,” said study author Esther Eisenberg, M.D., of the Fertility and Infertility Branch at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funded the study.

The researchers combined data from two previous studies funded by NICHD’s Reproductive Medicine Network. From the two studies, the researchers analyzed data for 1,650 women and 1,608 men. Couples in which the male partner had major depression were 60 percent less likely to conceive and have a live birth than those in which the male partner did not have major depression.

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