Men who have major depression are less likely to conceive a child, a clinical study at the US National Institute of Health has found.
The study compared data from over 1600 couples undergoing fertility treatment at six clinics across the USA, adjusting for factors such as age, race and smoking, and excluded those having IVF. The 34 men in the study with depression were 60 percent less likely to have babies during the study period than those without.
In contrast, women who had depression but who weren't taking anti-depressants were no less likely to have a live birth, the study found. Women undergoing anti-depressant treatment, however, were more likely to have a miscarriage.
The researchers suggested several possible reasons for these differences, including sexual or erectile dysfunction or a decrease in sperm quality among men with depression. Previous research has linked the use of anti-depressants to male infertility (see BioNews 477). However, men participating in this study – which used more fine-grained data for the women – were not monitored for use of anti-depressants.
The study, published in Fertility and Sterility, combined data from two previous clinical trials, to try to parse out the effects of male and female depression on non-IVF pregnancy outcomes. Both partners in the couples intending to have children filled in a depression screening questionnaire, and were then monitored for live births, pregnancy and first-trimester miscarriages.
'Our study provides infertility patients and their physicians with new information to consider when making treatment decisions,' said study author Dr Esther Eisenberg, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Rockville, Maryland, which funded the research.