Antidepressants Linked to Male Infertility

Researchers at New York’s Cornell Medical Center have found a major correlation between use of antidepressants and sperm count. Men who take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are being urged to consult closely with their doctors in order to determine a proper course of action in light of the new study, the first of its kind. Cornell’s Peter Schlegel announced the results this week at the 62nd annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in New Orleans.

The Cornell study involved the careful monitoring of two male patients over the course of two years. Both men were treated with citalopram (Cipramil) or sertraline (Lustral) and were later found to have significantly decreased sperm counts; in fact, their sperm counts actually approached zero. Once taken off the antidepressants, both men’s sperm counts rebounded to normal levels. Researchers also found a similar connection in a dozen other patients, although not quite as dramatic as in the two featured cases.

The <"">SSRI class of antidepressants includes the highly popular drugs Prozac and Seroxat. Previous research had linked SSRIs to issues with ejaculation and impotency, but the effect on sperm count and fertility has never been documented before. In his presentation to the ASRM, Dr. Schlegel said he found what he termed a “strong association” between SSRIs and fertility, claiming that the drugs caused a “severe deterioration” of both sperm counts and motility.

Dr. Schlegel believes that the problem may be connected to damage of the nerves in the vas deferens, the tube trusted with the task of delivering sperm to semen just before ejaculation. For male SSRI patients who may be considering starting or continuing a family, the results may have major ramifications.

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