Infertility isn’t always on the woman’s side - up to 50% of the time, men are the ones who have the problem. This could be because of erectile dysfunction, limited ability to ejaculate, there are no sperm, there isn’t enough sperm, or the sperm move too slowly, for example. Now researchers have found that a type of antidepressant, paroxetine (trade names Seroxat and Paxil) may also contribute to male infertility. Paroxetine falls into the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) group of antidepressants.
The study, which was published in the most recent edition of the journal Fertility & Sterility, involved 35 men who took paroxetine for 5 weeks. Their ejaculate was then tested for sperm and sperm quality. What the researchers found was that the DNA (what holds part of the genetic code of a person) was abnormal - called DNA fragmentation - in up to half of the men taking paroxetine. It’s known that DNA fragmentation can lead to birth defects and reduced fertility, even with assitance (in vitro fertilization).
The good news is that fertility seems to be restored after men stop taking paroxetine.
Why is this this important?
A good portion of American men do live with depression (as many as 10%). Although not all receive treatment, those who do may be given paroxetine. If it’s known that the patients would like to have a family, their doctors may want to consider trying another medication first.