Anti-depressants could damage the sperm's DNA
Anti-Depressants like Prozac could damage sperm according to a report in the New Scientist magazine.
A small sample — 35 men — were given Paroxetine (sold as Seroxat or Paxil) which is one of the SSRI family, the most common type of anti-depressant. (Other SSRIs include include fluoxetine - sold as Prozac - and citalopram - Seropram.)
The men's sperm were examined before treatment and four weeks later. While, on the face of it, the amount of sperm and their movement appeared healthy enough, on closer examination, the DNA was more damaged after SSRI use. On average, the proportion of sperm cells with fragmented DNA rose from 13.8% before taking paroxetine to 30.3% after just four weeks.
This is the second time that teams led by Peter Schlegel of the Cornell Medical Center in New York City have observed this problem in the sperm of men on SSRIs.
This level of DNA damage in sperm — 30% - is considered 'clinically significant' by fertility specialists says Douglas Carrell, a specialist in male infertility at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. According to the magazine, studies of couples having IVF treatment have found that where the man has more sperm with damaged DNA, fewer embryos form and those that do are less likely to implant successfully into the woman's uterus.
Carrell has called for more research. SSRIs are already known to slow the movement of sperm through the male reproductive system. This effect has already been exploited with some doctors prescribing SSRIs to treat premature ejaculation. Schlegel believes that this extra time spent travelling from the testes is what causes the sperm's DNA to become damaged.
If you're on SSRIs, don't come off them without discussing it with your GP first. Tell your GP if you're trying to have a baby.
Janet Morgan, a spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline, which sells paroxetine, told New Scientist: 'This study was not conducted by GSK, and therefore we are currently reviewing the investigators' findings. We take seriously our responsibility to ensure our medicines are used safely.'
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