Depression lowers chance for pregnancy, study says

Some drug treatments may also affect fecundity, but depression lowers chances for conception by more than one-third.

By Stephen Feller

BOSTON, May 25 (UPI) -- Whether or not women are being treated for depression, dealing with the condition can lower their chances of getting pregnant, according to a recent study.

Researches at Boston University found that while some medications for depression can have slight effects on fecundity, having depression at all affects the ability to conceive.


Although previous studies have suggested that drugs used for depression, such antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, could be the culprit for women's difficulty getting pregnant, the new research suggests other studies about the brain are closer to the truth.

Depression has been linked to dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, a part of the brain responsible for response to stress, which may affect both the menstrual cycle, as well as conception.

"Our findings suggest that moderate to severe depressive symptoms, regardless of current psychotropic medication treatment, may delay conception," Dr. Yael Nillni, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University, said in a press release.

For the study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers analyzed medical records for 2,146 women who had been trying to conceive for six months or less at the start of the study, and were followed-up with every eight weeks for up to a year or until they got pregnant.


Overall, 22 percent of the women had been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives, 17.2 percent had been treated with some type of psychotropic medication and 10.3 percent were using them during the study.

Regardless of drug treatment, however, women with severe depression were 38 percent less likely to get pregnant. Women taking benzodiazepines also were less likely to get pregnant, although those who had in the past taken selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, had improved chances for pregnancy.

Future studies need to be conducted on the effects of individual drugs, the researchers said, as well as to confirm how depression affects fecundity.

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