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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

BU: Depression Lowers Women’s Chances of Pregnancy

Women with severe depressive symptoms have a decreased chance of becoming pregnant, while the use of psychotropic medications does not appear to harm fertility, a study co-authored by researchers from Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) shows.

The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found a 38 percent decrease in the average probability of conception in a given menstrual cycle among women who reported severe depressive symptoms, compared to those with no or low symptoms. The results were similar regardless of whether the women were on psychotropic medications.

Although the study does not answer why women with more depressive symptoms may take longer to become pregnant, the authors noted several potential mechanisms for future study. Depression has been associated with dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which may influence the menstrual cycle and affect the ability to conceive, for example.

Data for the study came from more than 2,100 female pregnancy planners, ages 21–45 years, enrolled in a BUSPH-led study known as PRESTO (Pregnancy Study Online) that is looking at factors influencing fertility. The participants were asked to report their current depressive symptoms and psychotropic medication use, among many other factors. Overall, 22 percent reported a clinical diagnosis of depression in their medical histories, while 17.2 percent were former users of psychotropic medication and 10.3 percent were current users of psychotropic drugs.

To read more about the study, go to: http://www.bu.edu/sph/2016/05/24/depression-lowers-womens-chances-of-pregnancy/