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Dr Frank Quinn

Knowledgeable, Empathetic & Approachable

Depression, anxiety and antidepressants during IVF

Women receiving fertility treatment have a high prevalence of depressant and anxiety symptoms.

Fertility specialists have worried about what effect the depression, anxiety or medications may have on IVF outcome.

A study in Fertility and Sterility in 2016 looked at 23,557 women undergoing IVF treatment and looked at what potential effect depression and treatment with medical treatment may have on cycle outcome. Common selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in Australia go under the name of Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Priligy.

The results showed in total, 4.4% of women had been diagnosed with depression/anxiety and/or dispensed antidepressants before their IVF first cycle. The odds for pregnancy and live birth were slightly decreased. For women with a prescription for a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) only (829 patients) had no statistically significant associations were found. Women with non-SSRI antidepressants (52 patients) were at reduced odds of pregnancy and live birth. Women with a depression/anxiety diagnosis with no antidepressant (164 patients) also had reduced odds of pregnancy and live birth. Among the women who became pregnant (39.7%), there were no statistically significant associations between exposure and miscarriage except for the women taking non-SSRI antidepressants.

They concluded that a diagnosis of depression/ anxiety and/or treatment with antidepressants before IVF was associated with slightly reduced odds of pregnancy and live birth. Women with the presence of depression/anxiety without antidepressants had a more pronounced reduction in odds, implying that the underlying disorder is important for the observed association. (Fertil Steril.2016;105:1594–602). 

The take home message is that taking SSRI's during IVF do not appear to have any significant negative effect on outcome.

When considering changes to antidepressant medication, patients should always discuss the options with their general practitioner, pyschologist or pyschiatrist.