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Antidepressants and Male Fertility

Antidepressants And Male Fertility

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Many people take antidepressants to help them manage their mental health, but could they impact male fertility? 

If you are taking antidepressants and hoping to become a father, it’s important to get informed about the impact they could have on your fertility. The most important thing is that you take to your doctor about your medication and your family building plans – as they will be able yo advise you. But to help you prepare for that conversation – here’s a brief overview of the research. 

Different Kinds of antidepressants 

Before we get stuck into the impact antidepressants could have on male fertility, it’s helpful to outline the different kinds of antidepressants that can be prescribed. They usually fall into two main categories. 

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

These are usually the first choice of antidepressants as they seem to have the least side effects. As well as depression, they have been shown to help other mental health conditions including Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Some of the most common SSRIs include:

  • citalopram (Cipramil)
  • dapoxetine (Priligy)
  • escitalopram (Cipralex)
  • fluoxetine (Prozac or Oxactin)
  • fluvoxamine (Faverin)
  • paroxetine (Seroxat)
  • sertraline (Lustral)
  • vortioxetine (Brintellix)

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

SNRIs work very similarly to SSRIs but they are a newer class of drug and are used to treat major depression and other disorders including chronic pain. 

The common SNRIs include:

  • venlafaxine  (Bonilux, Depefex, Foraven, Politid, Venlalic, Winfex, Efexor)
  • duloxetine (Cymbalta, Yentreve)

You can then also have Serotonin antagonists and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs) – the main one of which is trazodone (Molipaxin) – which are not usually the first choice but might be prescribed if others haven’t worked, 

Then you also have Noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NASSAs) – the most common of which is mirtazapine (Zispin). They can be a good alternative for people who struggle with SSRIs and interestingly are thought to cause fewer sexual side effects! 

Can antidepressants impact male fertility?

Research in this area is still ongoing, but it’s an important conversation to have, especially as there is often still so much stigma around both mental health and infertility – taboos that need to be broken.

The vast majority of research into male fertility and antidepressants indicates that whilst there could be certain parameters impacted by taking these medications, the effects are short-term and reversible. There is still so much to be researched and confirmed but here’s what we know so far. 

Antidepressants and sperm motility

A 2015 study indicated that SSRI antidepressants could be associated with a decrease in sperm motility. However, the study did say that there was ‘insufficient data’ to suggest changing SSRIs prescriptions for men who are hoping to become fathers. Interestingly, a small 2021 study found that duloxetine (a common SNRI) had no impact on sperm motility, or any other sperm health parameters. Researchers suggested that this specific antidepressant could be a good alternative for men struggling with depression but keen to conceive. 

Antidepressants and sperm count

Some research has indicated that SSRIs may have a detrimental impact on sperm count. A 2019 scientific review found that these antidepressants seemed to reduce the quality of all sperm health parameters, including count and concentration. The same review concluded that SNRIs (specifically venlafaxine) didn’t have a significant impact on sperm count and in fact could potentially help to improve sperm morphology

Antidepressants and DNA fragmentation 

DNA Fragmentation is harder to test for and researchers are still unsure whether it’s an accurate indication of male fertility. However, some studies indicate that damaged sperm cells could find it harder to fertilise an egg, and could even be linked to miscarriage, so it’s worth thinking about. 

In terms of antidepressants and DNA Fragmentation, we don’t know too much right now. However, a 2010 study found that men taking Paxil – an SSRI also known as paroxetine – had more DNA Fragmentation after taking the drug for a month. Before taking Paxil, their average sperm DNA fragmentation level was 13.8%, but 4 weeks later, after taking Paxil every day, levels were more than double at 30.3%.

Antidepressants and erectile dysfunction 

Whilst there is still a lot more research needed into the impact of antidepressants and male fertility, we do know that they can trigger erectile dysfunction and other issues including loss of libido and delayed ejaculation.  Whilst these might not be linked to fertility specifically, obviously, anything that makes it difficult (or perhaps impossible) to have penetrative sex and climax could slash your chances of conceiving.

If you’re actively trying to have a baby it’s recommended that you have sex every day during the fertile window, so if you’re struggling to do that, you may struggle to conceive. Some antidepressants are more likely than others to cause issues in the bedroom, so speak to your doctor if you are concerned. 

If you are struggling with ED your doctor may prescribe your viagra to take alongside your antidepressants. But be careful, research shows that there could be a link between viagra and low sperm health. 

Should I come off antidepressants if I want to conceive?

Coming off antidepressants is a big decision and one that should not be made lightly. Whilst there’s a chance that coming off antidepressants could improve your sperm health, you have to measure that against the toll it could take on your mental wellbeing. 

If you are struggling to conceive, look into getting your sperm tested – our at-home test makes it easier than ever! Once you have your results, you can take a view on whether you need to alter your medication. Firstly, look at the other lifestyle factors that could be impacting your fertility – do you smoke? Are you overweight? Is your diet more junk food than vegetables? If the answer is yes then they might be more pressing things to address – and they could have benefits for both your fertility and your mental health. 

If you are still unhappy with the health of your swimmers, then consider sharing your concerns with your doctor. They may be able to suggest a different medication with fewer risks or advise you on a way you can safely come off your medications if that’s the route you decide to take. 

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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.