One of the more demoralising side effects of the anti-depressant selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is the reduced ability to reach orgasm, but there is also evidence that SSRIs also create temporary damage to sperm DNA.
Scientists from Bourn Hall Clinic presented results of a literature search on the impact of SSRIs and male infertility at the Fertility 2017 joint conference of the fertility societies in January.
Seventeen studies were identified that assessed the effects of SSRIs on male infertility; impacts included reduced sexual behaviour, poorer semen quality and sperm DNA fragmentation.
The studies concluded that SSRIs have a spermicidal effect with sperm motility, morphology, semen volume and concentration all impaired. The impact was proportional to drug dose and treatment duration.
Prolonged use of SSRIs was associated with an increase in DNA damage and erectile dysfunction, but this was reversible and sexual function returned within a month of treatment stopping.
These findings have led lead author Bayan Osmani to conclude: “The analyses of previous research has highlighted how SSRIs can have a negative impact on male reproductive potential. However, this can be moderated by reducing the dose and duration of treatment.
“There have been very few studies that assess the full impact of SSRIs on male fertility, in light of this we concluded that caution should be taken when prescribing these drugs to men that wish to conceive.”