In a new review focused on the effects of mental illness on fertility, researchers at The Ohio State University found there was not sufficient evidence to prove the use of antidepressants had detrimental effects on pregnancy.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, reviewed 37 studies.
“Increasing knowledge of consequences of mental illness and its prescribed treatment on reproductive health is important for patients and clinicians when making decisions affecting the patient’s health and the health of their unborn child,” principal investigator Dr. Tamar Gur, a psychiatrist and women’s health expert at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, said in a news release.
According to study data, maternal psychiatric illness is associated with a low fertility success rate, lower rates of successful pregnancies, impairment of the stress system, and lower rates of retrieval of cells necessary for reproduction to occur.
Looking at male fertility, the study found inconclusive results on the effect of antidepressants and sperm; some studies showed an increase in quantity while other showed a decrease in quantity and viability. Data showed that male depression did not affect sperm, but anxiety did.
Researchers concluded that more research around the negative effects of depression and anxiety, as well as its treatment, on the reproductive system is critical.
“Ideally, physicians would be able to tell if psychiatric disorders will impact a couple’s ability to have children. Or, if prescribing treatment would have an adverse effect on their fertility.” Gur said.
Gur noted that untreated mental illness is problematic , that risks and benefits must be carefully considered, and that the decision is highly personal for a couple to make with a knowledgeable physician.