How Depression Could Be Severely Impacting Your Ability to Have Kids

A young bearded man in deep thought
A young bearded man in deep thought PeopleImages / Getty Images

When you and your partner are trying to conceive a baby, you make every effort to maximize your fertility. You nix the behaviors that could be lowering your sperm count and start making healthy lifestyle changes that help your odds of getting pregnant.

But, say things don’t go according to plan. Say you need to undergo fertility treatments (not including IVF). Difficult as that process can be, new research suggests there could be something impeding your odds of having a successful outcome.

Infertile couples are 60 percent less likely to conceive if the male has major depression compared to couples in which the man has sound mental health, according to research funded by the US National Institutes of Health.

In the study, published in Fertility and Sterility, researchers looked at data for 1,650 women and 1,608 men. Roughly 5.96 percent of the women had active major depression and 5.72 percent were on antidepressants, while approximately 2.28 percent of the men had active depression.

Oddly enough, depression in women didn’t have such a demonstrative impact. However, women taking nonselective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs (non-SSRI) for their depression were about 3.5 times more likely to experience a miscarriage in the first trimester than those not using antidepressants.

“It’s concerning that we found non-SSRI antidepressants to be associated with higher miscarriage rate,” study co-author Evans-Hoeker said in a press release. “I would likely prefer an SSRI medication in patients pursuing fertility treatments, if an SSRI medication is deemed appropriate treatment for their depression.’’

SSRIs, another type of antidepressants, were not linked to pregnancy loss.

While the study did not analyze why depression in men hurt the chances of a couple successfully getting pregnant and producing a live birth, researchers believe it could have something to do with a man’s decreased sexual function, lower libido, erectile dysfunction, less frequent intercourse, and/or poor sperm quality.

If you and your partner are trying to have a baby, get screened for depression. It may worsen with negative pregnancy tests after fertility treatments, the researchers say.