A new research study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics Gynecology finds that women who display symptoms of severe depression may have a lower probability of getting pregnant. The new findings could help doctors determine better fertility treatments based on the health history of women.
In the US alone, there are an estimated 1.5 million women who are unable to get pregnant after a year of trying to conceive, according to the CDC. Infertility in women can be caused by conditions like damage to the fallopian tubes, pelvic infections, scar tissues, ovulation problems and hormonal imbalances. This research study, however, suggests that conditions like depression can also be a significant factor that prevents couples from conceiving successfully.
Depression and Infertility
Around 2,100 women who planned to conceive and were between the ages of 21-45 enrolled in the Pregnancy Study Online, conducted by Boston University Slone Epidemiology Center. Women who qualified for the study were required to have a stable relationship with a male partner and to be planning a pregnancy within 6 months during the 12-month long study. Women were asked to fill out one online survey at the beginning of the study, one survey every two months, and an online diet survey. In the analysis, participants were asked about depression symptoms and antidepressant medication use.
The study revealed that out of the 2,100 women who enrolled, 22% reported symptoms of clinical depression in their medical history. Around 17% of participants reported taking antidepressant in the past, while around 10% were on mood stabilizers during the study.
After compiling the data from the online study, researchers revealed that women who reported severe clinical depression symptoms had a 38% decreased chance of successfully getting pregnant in a given menstrual cycle when compared to those without symptoms. Similar results were exhibited in women who were on psychotropic drugs. Researchers stated that psychotropic drugs did not affect the probability of conception.
While the study does not answer the question of why women with depression symptoms take longer to conceive, the results could help future clinical research determine the effects of depression and infertility, leading to the development of more effective fertility treatments for the 1.5 million women trying to conceive.