Low Fertility more Common for People Living with Depression

 27th Jul 2016

Women who are living with severe cases of depression are less likely to become pregnant, a recent study has revealed.

The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology discovered pregnancy rates amongst women who have been diagnosed with the aforementioned mental health illness fell by 38 per cent.

The problem predominantly affects people suffering from acute depression; however, those living with the illness in moderate severity may also be at risk.

Despite this, the consumption of psychotropic medication (drugs typically prescribed to help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health illnesses) does appear to be detrimental to a woman’s fertility.

Throughout the entirety of the study, there was found to be no significant difference in the probability of women falling pregnant between those who actively took psychotropic drugs and those who did not.

Whilst the initial findings are alarming, it is reassuring to see that one of the main forms of treatment for depression is not responsible for intensifying the issue of infertility amongst those who rely on it to deal with their symptoms.

Psychotropic medication such as antidepressants and antianxiety agents often carry negative connotations and attributions to long term side effects however, in this case, their use is actually seen to be unproblematic.

The journal’s findings are not without their limitations however, as the data does not identify the reasons for why victims of depression are less likely to conceive a child.

Because of this, it will be important for further research to be conducted to explore the physical repercussions of this specific mental health illness on a person’s biological processes and, in particular, how it affects the fecundability of women.

‘Fecundability’ refers to the likelihood of a pregnancy occurring during a predefined period of time - usually a menstrual cycle.

The data, comprised of information taken from over 2,000 female pregnancy planners between the ages of 21 and 45, provides somewhat of a duality in its findings.

On the one hand, it highlights the importance for prioritising the treatment of mental health illnesses in order to protect women from infertility; however, it also indirectly advocates the use of medication to help those currently living with depression cope with their symptoms.

For women suffering from extended bouts of depression who are looking to give birth, medication may be one of the most powerful ways to improve fertility until additional information on the effects of depression can be uncovered.

Encompass provide a wide range of person-centred care services for people living with enduring mental health conditions and learning disabilities.

Find out Encompass can help you or a loved one by clicking here.

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