Antidepressant Use During IVF

Many women struggle with mental health conditions while undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant. When depression is diagnosed, prescription medications called antidepressants can help control the symptoms. Are medications for depression safe to continue taking during fertility treatment and once pregnancy is achieved?

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Understanding depression

Infertility is a stressful diagnosis. Frequent appointments, hormonal medication use, and the fear of loss can all be a recipe for depression to occur. Even after a successful pregnancy, many women will continue to experience depression symptoms. Depression can present as feelings of sadness, angry outburst, loss of interest in everyday activities, and lack of energy. Some women with depression may have trouble sleeping or reduced appetite and weight loss. Therapy and lifestyle changes like diet and exercise can help in some instances. However, for many women, the chemical imbalance in the brain needs to be corrected with antidepressants.

Choosing a medication

Many different medications can be used to treat depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are 2 classes frequently prescribed. Atypical antidepressants are another newer class that may help. Many healthcare providers can prescribe this type of medication. The provider will listen to the symptoms reported and recommend an antidepressant thought to work best.

No proven effect on fertility

Generally speaking, antidepressants should not affect fertility. This means a negative effect is not expected when a woman is taking ovarian stimulation medication, undergoing egg retrieval, and having an embryo transfer. In fact, many research studies show untreated mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can affect pregnancy success more than the medication itself. Always check with the fertility doctor to be sure, but in most cases, continuing an antidepressant early in the IVF process is acceptable.

Antidepressants in pregnancy

The blood connection between the mom and baby takes place around 4 weeks from the last menstrual period (LMP). This is also the time when the baby’s major organs start to form. Most exposures the mom has after 4 weeks are expected to reach the developing baby. That said, many antidepressants are well-studied and not associated with early risks like miscarriage or birth defects. Withdrawal is a possible concern that can happen when an antidepressant is taken throughout pregnancy. Weighing the risks and benefits of continuing medication during pregnancy with a trusted healthcare provider is always a good idea.

Treating for two

Depression is common for women undergoing fertility treatment but should never be ignored. Medication can help treat the symptoms of depression, keeping the mom-to-be physically and mentally healthy. Always let the healthcare provider know about any medication use while undergoing IVF, but generally speaking, antidepressants should not affect the process.

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